‘Rock Island Rendezvous’ to celebrate Eldon businesses, future opening of Depot project

Mitch Prentice
Lake Sun Leader
A view of the construction work being done to the future Rock Island Depot center.

The annual Eldon Chamber awards dinner will be held this week, but with a theme honoring some exciting changes coming soon to the city. This year’s dinner will be called the “Rock Island Rendezvous”, in honor of the new Rock Island Depot construction that will house the Chamber’s new office space. 

Jan White, Eldon Chamber of Commerce Executive Director’s Assistant, says they don’t have a firm date on the building’s opening quite yet, but they are hoping for fall 2021. The project has been ongoing since 2019, when the city was granted the property of the old depot from Ameren. The Eldon Chamber worked alongside the city to negotiate a 25-year lease starting August 1, 2020. 

“We are happy to see the depot project progressing.  It will be not only a great connection with the past but also a centerpiece for the city and the Rock Island Park.” Don Smith, Eldon City Administrator said. 

The depot serves as a historically significant part of Eldon. A group was formed around 2014 to create a master plan for the future vision of Eldon. This ended up including the Rock Island Trail, Rock Island Park and the depot reconstruction.

One of the keynotes of the new construction is the fact that labor will be completed by Eldon Career Center students. With summer break just around the corner, this may set the project back to a slower pace until students return. However, White says they are confident that the building will be completed within the year and they want to celebrate during this year’s award ceremony.

The Rock Island Rendezvous will host a dinner and silent auction, alongside a slate of community awards. These include large business of the year, small business of the year, citizen of the year, distinguished citizen of the year, organization of the year, volunteer of the year, teacher of the year and support staff of the year. The Chamber will also be recognizing chamber board members both leaving and joining their ranks.

White says that this year’s awards ceremony feels significant due to the challenges COVID created for local business. She says the Chamber sees this as an opportunity to honor and celebrate the businesses who stuck through it and helped keep Eldon going. 

“We wish we could do even more to appreciate them,” White said.

The silent auction will see a number of baskets for sale that highlight local businesses. Some baskets already shown by the Chamber include Lake Regional, Eldon Family Chiropractic, Woods Supermarket and more. 

For those looking to join the event, you must purchase tickets in advance. They cost $35 a person and can be purchased through the Chamber. The event will take place on April 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the Eldon Community center.