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State Rep. John Kuempel Named Chamber's 2023 Besserung Award Winner

Published Tuesday, January 30, 2024 9:28am

Representative John Kuempel was announced as the recipient of the annual Besserung Award Friday evening at the 105th Annual Banquet of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce. The award, which is kept secret until the moment of the reveal, is often referred to as New Braunfels’ outstanding citizen’s award and is designed to honor an individual who provides significant contributions to the community through their civic activities.

Kuempel was born and raised in Seguin and currently serves as Chairman of the Higher Education Committee in the Texas House. He was sworn into office in 2010 and has served seven terms as State Representative of District 44, which is comprised of Guadalupe and Gonzales Counties.  

During the most recent Legislative Session, Kuempel led the way by authoring House Bill (HB) 4997, which allows Texas State Technical College (TSTC) to operate by right in Comal and Guadalupe counties. The passage of HB 4997 creates the opportunity for TSTC to build a campus in this region and will provide opportunities for individuals to gain specialized skills and knowledge in industries with great-paying jobs.

“This bill that he carried through legislation is going to be absolutely critical for the future of our community and the people that are going to be working here,” said Doug Miller, Former Texas State Representative.

The announcement of the Besserung Award winner capped off the evening, but prior to that, the banquet program included several award recognitions and the ceremonial passing of the gavel from Outgoing Chair Allison Humphries of the Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre to the 2024 Chair of the Board Barron Casteel of Casteel & Casteel PLLC.

The award recognitions included the Chamber’s Blue Coat Ambassador program recognizing their new 2023 Senior Blue Coats and Blue Coats and announcing award winners Caryn Benson as the Blue Coat of the Year and Helgard Hollis as the Senior Blue Coat of the Year.

We had the privilege of announcing our newest Blue Coat Ambassadors; Cordell Bunch, Vanessa Dean, Clarissa Eastepp, Jeff Jenkins, Elizabeth Joost, Mary Ann Labowski, Austin Milam, and Melodye Tomsu will be volunteering their time to help the New Braunfels business community and support Chamber functions.

Chair of the Board Award winners and Honors Hall inductees were recognized next. The Chair of the Board Award honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to the community in a specific field of civic endeavor. No more than six recipients may be named in a calendar year. The 2023 Chair of the Board Award winners were Suzanne Herbelin, Tara Kohlenberg, Mary Ann Labowski, Michael Rutherford, and Ian Taylor.

The 2023 Small Business Person of the Year was awarded to Myra Zunker from the Chandelier of Gruene.

The Hall of Honor Award recognizes individuals who have participated in civic activities over many years and are at least 50 years of age. A maximum of three recipients may be named in a calendar year and their photograph will be included as a permanent exhibit in the Chamber’s Honors Hall. The 2023 Hall of Honor inductees were Barron Casteel, Eric Couch, and Luke Speckman.