The following information was supplied by Jim Wright, president of the Kirkwood-Des Peres Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Kirkwood-Des Peres Area Chamber of Commerce will honor community leaders and business owners at the 66th Annual Installation and Awards Celebration on Friday, Feb. 3 at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac.
Citizen of the Year - Bill Burckhalter and the staff of the Kirkwood Train Station
In 2003, Amtrak eliminated staffing the train station. It was the city's vision to have volunteers meet the trains daily, but needed someone to run the station as well as oversee the volunteer program. They met with Bill Burckhalter and hired him as the new station manager and volunteer coordinator, with the charge to find volunteers for the program. Burckhalter now has about 70 volunteers who meet the four trains 365 days a year, including holidays.
Burckhalter is in charge of the building itself in addition to the volunteer program. Since then, he’s overseen numerous improvements and renovations, including addressing ADA needs, mostly funded by grants applied for by Burckhalter.
After the first year of operation, the program received Amtrak's presidential award for outstanding service. Amtrak has requested Burckhalter explain the effort to others across the country to help other cities design successful rail stations and programs.
Burckhalter is a Vietnam veteran and organizes the Veterans' Day event each year at Kirkwood High School where veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and Iraq and Afghanistan speak to students about their service. He and his wife Katie are Kirkwood residents and have three daughters and five grandchildren.
Businessperson of the Year - Computer St. Louis owners Seth and Nicole Russell
Seth and Nicole Russell, owners of Crestwood-based Computer St. Louis will be awarded the Businessperson of the Year Award. They are an I.T. solutions provider with a wide range of products and services scaling from the individual consumer on their retail storefront to the 1000-seat enterprise level customer.
Computer St. Louis takes pride in being locally owned and operated for over 15 years. They recently outgrew their original location and moved to a new, larger space to satisfy their needs and facilitate future growth.
Their goal is to serve all their clients with the right technology to make them more profitable, more efficient, more productive, and make their jobs and lives easier. This goal was established 14 years ago when Seth's father, Jim, started the business. Seth and his co-owner, wife, Nicole, have two children.
Volunteer of the Year – Colleen Schulter of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
Red Robin has been a member of the Chamber since 2007, and Schulter began volunteering since day one.
Schulter caters the Board of Directors lunches twice a year, every year, and even delivers the lunches on her day off. Every year, for the past three years, she has hosted one of the quarterly Chamber New Member Receptions.
Schulter also spearheaded and hosted a very successful Business After Hours and Networking. Most recently, she helped coordinate our first ever Breakfast With Santa.
She takes up collections of toys, clothing and other necessities for less fortunate children and families to be donated in the hopes of making their holiday season a little brighter, and every year offers free meals to veterans on Veteran's Day.
Lifetime Achievement – Alvin and Romona Miller
Alvin was born and raised in Kirkwood, and is the youngest of 11 children. He and his siblings were among the first African American students to attend integrated Kirkwood schools. He was a fine student and remarkable athlete, and received multiple honors including being named "Parade Magazine's Top Prep Football Player of 1982."
He received a full scholarship from Notre Dame University, and went on to play pro football with the NFL's Buffalo Bills. He is currently a territory sales manager for a large corporation.
Romona holds multiple degrees, from the University of Memphis and Webster University. She is currently assistant principal at Kirkwood High School.
Romona and Alvin met following her move to St Louis from Memphis in 1988, and like a Kirkwood love story, it happened at the annual Turkey Day game. They now have three children - Scott, Ariel and Lauryn.
The Millers are devoted to helping young people succeed, especially those facing challenging circumstances. They volunteer with Hope Unlimited as well as the Kirkwood Harrison Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, and have participated in the efforts of Community for Understanding and Healing. In recent years, several young people in need of a supportive family situation have been welcomed into the Miller's home.
Alvin and Romona were 2009 Community Service Award recipients, and in November, 2011, the track at KHS was named in Alvin's honor.