Congratulations to all of the 2022 Belgium Area Chamber of Commerce award winners. The following winners were honored at the 2022 Celebrate Belgium event Wednesday, November 9th, 2022 at Memories Ballroom.
AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR: EVAN RAMMEL
This year’s Ambassador of the Year has been a part of the program since it started in winter, 2019. He is one of our student ambassadors, who was in middle school when the program began and is now a junior in high school. We love our student ambassadors as they are so enthusiastic and excited to play their role of ambassador. They are willing to get outside their comfort zone and play roles that some adults aren’t willing to do, such as dressing up as a character and walking in the Belgium Christmas parade, which this ambassador has done several times, his favorite character being from Paw Patrol.
This ambassador has also volunteered as a gator boy and with set-up and take down at Luxembourg Fest, assisted with the Belgium Easter egg hunt, Summer Nights Live and our Splash Pad Sunday events.
When not serving as an Ambassador, this student helps at the fire department, where he has been an Explorer for two years, plays on the HS Varsity soccer and golf teams, and this year, earned the rank of Eagle Scout, building a structure known and loved by many kids as a Gaga Ball pit, at Heritage Park.
The Ambassador Program helps keep our many events afloat. If you, your business, or anyone you know would like to get involved with the Ambassador program, please let us know, as the continued success of this program is critical to our organization.
We simply would not be able to continue hosting local activities without the help of this great group of people and the businesses that sponsor the Ambassador program. This year we are pleased to honor Evan Rammel as our Ambassador of the Year.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: CHANEL SCHMIDT
This year’s Citizen of the Year was also our 2019 Ambassador of the Year, so we are not surprised to see her up here again.
Like Evan, she was a part of our Ambassador program from the get-go and continues to be a valuable member of the program today. She always is the first to volunteer for event committees and can always be counted on to sign up when someone needs help. She assists us with Luxembourg Fest, European Christmas, Brew & Chew and was on the Centennial Committee, helping at the Buechler Farms music festival, and chairing the birthday party weekend events committee. She is an active member of the Chamber board of directors, and has served as our Chamber treasurer for the past two years.
This busy mother of two teenagers recently stepped down as President of the PTSO, where she served that organization for the past five years. Even though her children are both in high school she continues to help out the PTSO with events such as the book fair and assisting new parents as they step up to lead.
She is the manager at the Belgium Branch of Port Washington State Bank, where she has been employed for going on nine years. Her passion for her work has extended into yet another service role as she helps out at the high school, assisting the personal finance class with teaching financial literacy to local students.
Speaking of literacy, her newest role is helping out with the Ozaukee Adult Literacy Center, planning the adult spelling bee and getting information about the center to schools.
What makes this volunteer of the year particularly stick out from the rest is her attitude. She is positive, professional, and her enthusiasm and excitement is contagious. She faces any challenges with a can-do spirit and is an incredibly valuable member of the team no matter which role she is in. She loves to give back, and says she “wants to encourage others to do the same, and hope they see it as being as fun as she does.”
Our community is very blessed to have her and for that we are pleased to present Chanel Schmidt with our award for Volunteer of the Year.
COMMUNITY SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD: BUECHLER FARMS
You only get to celebrate a centennial anniversary once in a lifetime. Once ever, actually, so when it came time to celebrate Belgium turning 100, we had to do it right.
As we mentioned earlier, a committee was formed to brainstorm ideas and to bring them to fruition. What resulted was a group effort but there was one local business who truly stood out from the rest in making this year special and that business is Buechler Farms.
Buechler’s owner, Irene, joined our committee and stepped up with lots of ideas right off the bat.
She took an idea they had for a multi-day music festival and embraced it as Belgium’s Birthday Bash. They went out on a limb for our community, taking the risk of booking some of Wisconsin’s hottest cover bands into one action-packed summer weekend. They erected a massive farm-themed pavilion to shade the crowd. They offered scenic camping alongside their pond. They partnered with Mel’s Charities to make sure they were using the event to give back- ultimately donating $2,000 back into our community. There were fireworks. A great time was had by all.
But they weren’t done. Irene also volunteered for the actual Centennial anniversary weekend events. She expanded the Sunday celebration by using their regularly scheduled Harvest Festival to celebrate the Centennial on Saturday as well. She invited the Fire Department to come give fire truck rides. The Lions made Belgium Waffles. 4H made crafts with the kids. Belgium Scouts were there.
The Chamber was able to host a sunset lantern launch in the pond. Port Washington State Bank sponsored an amazing night of live music. It truly was a celebration of our community and who we are.
On Sunday, the Buechler Farm continued its Harvest Festival, but not before Irene also ensured that we had a wonderful birthday cake and cupcakes ordered and delivered to serve at Sunday’s festivities at Village Hall.
The Buechler’s have an incredible entrepreneurial spirit and can-do attitude that is infectious and exciting. They continue to host events that are creative, fun, and amazing for Belgium tourism. We are so grateful to Brian and Irene Buechler for all they have done for Belgium’s Centennial celebration and our community as a whole, and for that we want to honor them with tonight’s Community Special Recognition Award.
COMMUNITY BEAUTIFICATION AWARD: MIKE ANSAY
Our next award goes to someone who stepped up in a very big way to commemorate Belgium’s Centennial. Not only did this person take an idea and run with it but asked for no recognition in return, which is par for the course in terms of this person’s generosity to our community.
We mentioned, in passing one day how cool it would be to have a sculpture to mark Belgium’s Centennial. The next thing we knew, this person had commissioned a Luxembourgish immigrant, artist Victorine Hinger, to create a sculpture honoring Belgium’s heritage. If you have not yet seen it, the sculpture is entitled “Immigration” and beautifully illustrates a young immigrant family being sheltered by the arms of an angel.
He coordinated not only the creation of such a special piece and the shipping of the piece from Florida to Belgium but took care of having it carefully designed into its final display location in Belgium’s Village Square, adjacent to the sculpture of Grand Duke Henri. When a Luxembourgish Cardinal came to Luxembourg Fest this summer, it was arranged for the Cardinal to bless this sculpture with artist Victorine Hinger also on hand for the event along with specially-created replica necklaces of the “Immigration” piece which are currently sold at the LACS- all of which made our Centennial celebration that much more memorable. BTW- we’d also like to thank the Village of Belgium at this point for paying for a plaque that will allow us to acknowledge these gifts.
The donation of Belgium’s Centennial sculpture is what inspired the nomination of this award, but it bears noting that this generous act is just one of many, many ways that Mike Ansay and his family have given back to the Belgium Community over the years.
Mike grew up in Belgium and, thanks to his upbringing, has always found ways to contribute to the growth, enjoyment and beauty of our community. We have Mike and his family to thank for the donation of Belgium’s Village Hall, the Village Splash Pad, and the beautiful Ansay Welcome Center down at Harrington Beach State Park.
The Ansay family has donated acres of land for public use, including the donation of the land used for Lake Hills Park in Belgium, along with the landscaping and trees to make it a shady place to play. They donated the land that the fire department used to raffle off a house in order to buy a new tanker truck. Mike donated land for Heritage Park off KW, in addition to adding, grading and tiling the baseball diamonds, and strategically working with John Rassel to build storage facilities there for the football team. He also donated land for Belgium’s Industrial Park, which brought 300 jobs to our area, donated land for the Luxembourg American Cultural Society and was instrumental in ensuring our small village of Belgium played host to this internationally renowned cultural society, which he continues to sit on the board for today.
This is only a sampling of the difference Mike Ansay has made in our community. Can you imagine Belgium without these parks, ball diamonds, splash pad or lovely Village Hall?
Belgium is unbelievably lucky to have such a generous champion of our community who is so passionate about forwarding our community into the future while also doing so much to remember its heritage. For these reasons we honor Mike with this year’s Community Beautification Award.
BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT AWARD: PLUS GROUP WEALTH ADVISORS
Our next award is the Business Improvement Award, and it is being given to a business who always stands for quality and community. They are faithful in their support of our local civic organizations and always willing to step up to help when there is a need in our community, from sponsoring events to purchasing picnic tables and umbrellas for our splash pad.
One may argue that this year’s winner, Plus Group Wealth Advisors, always looks neat, modern and tidy, but they are also always looking for ways to improve. This past year, they completed a major landscaping project, removing a retaining wall, and completing new masonry, putting in new stairs to their front door. They installed new landscaping. But that isn’t where the improvements stopped.
As you may have seen by the beautiful Luxembourgish photography, custom printed on metal with hand-crafted metal frames that graces their interior, this business embraces Belgium’s Luxembourgish heritage, and encourages other businesses to do the same. So it is no surprise that when they added a new flagpole to their landscaping, it flies both the American and Luxembourgish flags.
They then installed a digital sign, and not just any sign but the highest resolution sign in town, capable of displaying impressive notices of upcoming events as well as the not always beautiful but still helpful stock market standings.
They also put in a concrete pad and arranged the installation of a UPS pick-up box, which is helpful for all of Belgium’s businesses and residents alike.
We are grateful to have this commitment to quality and community in Belgium. For this and many more reasons we are pleased to present Plus Group Wealth Advisors with our 2022 Business Improvement Award.
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD: GREG ANZIA
Our next award goes to someone who was born and raised in our community, so we won’t embarrass him by saying how many years we have been blessed with his service but it is quite a few.
We can start by saying he has been on the fire department for 27 years, and started volunteering with EMS just a few years later in 1998. He was lieutenant for more than ten years and has served as Captain for a year now.
He took on one of his biggest roles in life 21 years ago when the oldest of his sons was born, to be followed by three more boys. These boys turned out to be quite athletic, and Greg was there every step of the way to teach and encourage them. It was not unusual for Greg to find three sets of coaching shirts (yes, he would coach up to three teams at a time) in the back of his car. He lost track of how many years he coached baseball but it was a variety of leagues for all four boys.
He coached Broncos middle school football for nine years. When his boys started playing varsity football in 2016, Greg started helping up in the booth and documenting plays.
He says, “You gotta be involved. You can’t stand by and watch.” Considering this man has been on the road 50-70% of the time and still manages to be this involved, the rest of us really have no excuses. For being such an inspirational volunteer in our community, we are pleased to present Greg Anzia with the 2022 Distinguished Service Award.
2022 BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: LUXEMBOURG CAFÉ
Our 2022 Business of the Year award goes to a relatively new business in Belgium who took the stage last year for our Business Improvement Award. They had only been open a couple months at the time, but had put many months of blood, sweat and tears (we are only assuming this was a part of the package as they make it look so easy) into renovating their space from floor to ceiling, inside and out, prior to opening.
It has now been over a year since Luxembourg Café joined our community. Like Plus Group Wealth Advisors, they have embraced our Luxembourgish heritage. Through my work with the LACS I can tell you the addition of the Luxembourg Café has thrilled our guests who come to visit from overseas. Photos of Luxembourg Café are always a highlight of their visits and the café has even been featured in other Luxembourg society newsletters. I hope I am not wrecking any surprises here but I have been told that mustreipen will soon be added to the menu, which will be sure to thrill Luxembourgers and Luxembourg descendants alike.
But beyond embracing the culture, Luxembourg Café has been a solid addition to Belgium in terms of offering quality food, friendly service, and a wonderful atmosphere to dine.
It surely was not easy to open a restaurant in the height of the pandemic. They were faced with the same staffing issues, supply issues and skyrocketing food costs as everyone else. And yet they persevered and they flourished.
They have done wonders in putting Belgium on the map, as their recipe for success has blessed them with significant word of mouth advertising. Guests are willing to travel to Belgium just for a chance to experience a meal at the place they have heard so much about.
Following the pattern of the others who have stood on this stage tonight, owners Dee and Terry have a commitment to excellence and are always seeking to better their business and give back to the community.
When the Belgium Fire Department was striving to raise money for new air tanks, the café allowed them to set up a table to sell raffle tickets. They have participated in community events, from the Chili cookoff (which they are again doing this year on December 4th) to Brew & Chew.
They recently installed several sound clouds to improve acoustics in the restaurant, and as soon as the supply chain allows the remainder to be delivered, they will be adding even more.
As part of the renovations, they fixed up the café’s banquet room, which immediately became a popular meeting location for groups such as the Belgium Lions Club, parties, business meetings, and more. They are now working on adding a bar to the banquet room, and are proving the sky is the limit with what they can do with their business.
Owners Dee and Terry are new to town but fit right in. Their warm personalities and hardworking mentality have endeared them to all, and the feeling is mutual as Terry recently told us Belgium is their favorite place they have ever lived.
We look forward to many continued years of success for Luxembourg Café, and are pleased to honor them as our 2022 Business of the Year.