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Chamber awards Chuck Nelson with Distinguished Service Award

Chuck Nelson, president, CEO and majority owner of Pine River State Bank, was honored with the Pine River Chamber of Commerce’s Distinguished Service Award on Monday, May 13.

Nelson was recognized on behalf of the chamber for his contributions to Pine River and the surrounding area.

Chamber Vice President Diane Johnson told the crowd gathered Monday night at Bites Grill & Bar, “Our Distinguished Service Award winner has always had a clear idea of what he wanted to do in his life and set out to make it happen.”

Nelson is known for his support of community development and events including the local rodeo, the Paul Bunyan Trail and the reconstruction of the Pine River Bowling Alley after its destruction by fire.

John Wetrosky, chamber executive director, stressed how important the reconstruction was to the community.

“It was our winter activity here in town. Many communities that have lost that type of thing were never able to bring it back,” Wetrosky said.

He also said that without Nelson, the project may have never been completed because Nelson provided constant support throughout the process, even when Wetrosky and others became concerned about the scale and cost.

“I’ve been involved in a number of things over the years. What a great guy to have as your backer,” Wetrosky said. “We’re very lucky to have an independent banker left in this community.”

Wetrosky remembers working for Nelson at the bank and said he was often willing to support community building projects that would traditionally be less popular to banks.

Nelson said he felt honored by the award and said he would continue to dedicate himself to the community as he has in the past.

“There’s a lot more to do, and I promise you I’ll do what I can in the future to help this place along,” Nelson told the crowd.

“The bank will only do as good as the town does, so we’ve pushed the town,” Nelson later said. “We’ve done everything we can to help the town, to make the town grow, to make it a better place for the people in it, to make it attractive for other people to come in, and we’d like everybody in the town to do good and get rich. Then other people would come in and borrow the rich people’s money and we’d all do well.”

Nelson is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a degree in economics. He purchased the Pine River State Bank in 1983 and still works there.

The Pine River Chamber Distinguished Service Award began in 1979 as a way of recognizing contributions of chamber members. The first recipient was Walt Silbaugh. Chamber members, employees of chamber members and associate chamber members are eligible for nomination. They are nominated and voted on by a committee formed of past award recipients. The committee attempts to choose members with longevity, degree of support, activity with the chamber and involvement in events.

“Generally, the people that have been awarded have been active at some level. It doesn’t necessarily have to be all chamber events, but supportive of chamber events and things like that,” Wetrosky said.

For information on past recipients, visit the Pine River Information Center, where a plaque can be found with the names of all 34.