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Business owner to be honored with CVB's top award

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Local business owner Gary Ellison was selected to receive the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau Inc.'s top annual award.

Ellison, who owns marketing and public relations agency Gary Ellison Productions Inc., is scheduled to receive the Pinnacle Award during a CVB event on Feb. 18 at the White River Conference Center, according to a news release.

The Pinnacle Award honors individuals who have been active in and made significant contributions to the local travel industry. Ellison has served on the boards of multiple tourism-related entities, including the 1996 Mayor’s Commission on Travel and Tourism, and he's written articles about Springfield tourism for Show-Me Missouri magazine.

The CVB will also honor Springfield Regional Arts Council Inc. Executive Director Leslie Forrester with the Diplomat Award, which recognizes support of the local travel industry. Forrester was chosen for her leadership in bringing arts events and exhibits to the city, according to the release.

The Ambassador Award, which recognizes individuals who encourage tourism or secure a major convention or event, is going to Fred Spaulding and Pam Prentice. Spaulding is a military reunion planner who has brought dozens of groups to Springfield through the Fire Support Base Ripcord Association, and Prentice has more than 20 years of experience as a local hotel general manager with Rolling Oaks Hospitality Inc.'s Holiday Inn Express & Suites Medical District.

The nonprofit TrailSpring will receive the Spotlight Award, an honor recognizing organizations that are not usually considered to be part of the travel and tourism industry, according to the release. The organization is being recognized for its trail development and the Singletrack Mind festival.

BigShots Golf, a partnership between O’Reilly Hospitality Management LLC and ClubCorp that opened this summer in north Springfield, is the recipient of the Hospitality Award. The award recognizes attractions for their hospitality to visitors.

Winners are selected by the CVB board’s executive committee, according to past reporting.

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