Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony recognizes local business, community leaders

People stopping by to take photos of the Corn Palace, walk past the 601 N. Main St. building that's home to the Mitchell Area Development Corporation and Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce on Friday afternoon across from the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Community business leaders were recognized for their efforts on Tuesday during the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce’s virtual recognition event.

The virtual event doled out five awards to local businesses and community leaders. Although the late Lance Carson wasn’t able to stand next to his wife to receive the Community Service Award, his impact on the community of Mitchell lives on.

“Thank you very much for this award, and it is truly an honor,” said an emotional Donna Carson, Lance’s wife of 54 years. “We are blessed to have made the friends we have in the Mitchell community.”

Lance Carson
Former State Rep. Lance Carson, center, sits between former state Sen. Mike Vehle, left, and Rep. Tona Rozum while listening to Gov. Dennis Daugaard give his 2017 budget address. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Before his death to COVID-19 on Oct. 14, Carson served in the military and moved to Michell in 1979. Together, they ran a successful business, Lance’s Amoco, for several decades. Carson became a veteran state legislator, representing District 20 in the state House of Representatives for a decade.


The Community Service Award recognizes a leader who has made significant contributions to the community in various capacities.

The Harold Hagen award that recognizes contributions for spurring economic development to the city of Mitchell was given to Bob Mueller, owner of Mueller Lumber. Mueller, a Mount Vernon native, started his longtime Mitchell business in 1964, which has continued to grow ever since.

Mueller has built over 450 homes and 500 apartment units in Mitchell and the surrounding area. His contributions have helped the community grow to new heights.

“I am proud to have helped the community grow with jobs and new housing developments,” Mueller said. “It took a lot of work to get this business going.”

After 30 years of doing business in the community, Paulson Air Heating and Cooling was awarded the Prairie Family Business of the Year Award. The family-owned business has provided jobs and given back to the community through donating to local food drives and animal shelters.

“This year we had the first-generation owners who were able to start this business and the last generation join us,” said Scott Paulson, who is the second-generation owner of Paulson Air Heating and Cooling. “It means a lot to us to be a part of this community, and I want to thank everyone for their support."

Jeff Logan, president of Logan Luxury Theaters Corporation, was recognized for his efforts to bring a nostalgic form of entertainment back to the community amid the pandemic. With the social distancing measures and safety precautions that were implemented to curb COVID-19, Logan opened the Starlite Drive-In after a seven-year hiatus.

After opening the Starlite Drive-In Logan this past summer, Logan said the retro outdoor movie theater attracted customers from states across the nation. It was fitting for Logan to be honored with the Tourism Excellence Award.


“Opening the Starlite Drive-In during these tough times just seemed like the right answer,” Logan said. “We had so many customers come to enjoy the shows, and there were some who travelled from Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. It really worked well and helped us survive through the summer.”

Megan Suarez, owner of Adorn Boutique, was recognized with the Main Street Champion Award for her efforts to help promote downtown Mitchell and local businesses. Suarez has grown her boutique in the heart of Mitchell’s Main Street, while promoting events held by Mitchell Main Street and Beyond.

“I always try to think of ways of how I can get more people in the community involved with downtown, because if we work together as a whole then the community becomes a better place for businesses,” Suarez said.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
What To Read Next
Get Local