Deb Ohnoutka said having to give a few remarks was unexpected.
But she took to the microphone and walked through one of the key turning
points in the recent history of Blue Springs.
Less than five years ago, St. Mary's Medical Center was up for sale,
and the community was apprehensive. A sale to HCA Midwest was announced
but eventually fell through. More apprehension, more questions, she acknowledged.
Would the hospital close? Or become a nursing home?
But the hospital got a new owner in February 2015, Prime Healthcare, and
Ohnoutka was soon named chief executive officer. What's followed,
she said, is a period of stability, a shift in the hospital's culture
and a return to profitability.
"And we are so proud to say we are here, and we're getting bigger
and better every day," she said. "And we could not do that without
the support of Blue Springs."
That progress was recognized Friday night with the Blue Springs Chamber
of Commerce annual award for business of the year.
The chamber's annual dinner also included several other moments of
• The chamber's membership is at 447, and its 2016 chair, Mark
Whitlow, said " ...; I've never seen the Blue Springs chamber
this vibrant, this robust."
• The Citizen of the Year is Ted Meyer. He and Betty Meyer celebrated
the 50th anniversary of their business, Meyer Music, last year. Ted Meyer
was deeply active with the chamber in its early years and on Friday pointed
out that as its president he presented the first citizen of the year award
in 1969 to Dale Baumgardener. He's also long been involved with Rotary.
The Blue Springs Rotary and the Blue Springs Education Foundation nominated
him. The foundation wrote, "He has a selfless heart as he assists
with music programs and supports, staff and schools. ...; Ted's impact
He noted that Betty, their daughter and now a granddaughter all taught
or have taught in the Blue Springs School District.
"So we love Blue Springs," he said. "We are so connected
to it. We are so glad we landed here.