Chamber Honors Worrell Land Services, CassComm and Department of Health as Companies of the Year

A communications powerhouse, a growing family business and a nonprofit group whose mission is to keep people healthy were honored Tuesday with the Jacksonville-area Chamber of Commerce’s annual top awards.

At its annual meeting at Warehouse 200, the chamber named Worrell Land Services as its Small Business of the Year and Cass Communications as Business of the Year. The Morgan County Health Department was honored as Nonprofit of the Year.

The Small Business of the Year is awarded to companies with less than 25 employees.

Allan Worrell started Worrell Land Services in 1995 from a spare bedroom in his home with the intention of helping those planning agricultural investments. She quickly added rural real estate, auction and appraisal services to her portfolio.

Worrell’s son, Luke, and his wife, Allison, now run a business with four full-time employees and six independent contractors.

The family remains attached to the community through social organizations such as Kiwanis. Allan Worrell served as chairman of the board of the chamber and is a member of the agribusiness division, as well as a member of the Ag Hall of Fame. Luke Worrell helped establish an agribusiness program at Illinois College, and both have donated time to Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corp., the Morgan County Fair Board of Directors, and other organizations .

The company of the year is awarded to a company with 25 or more employees.

Cass Communications got its start over 120 years ago when the Virginia and Little Indian Telephone Co. was granted a franchise in 1898 to provide telephone service in the city. The company was incorporated in 1910 as the Cass County Telephone Co. by Edward J. and Ada Huff, great-grandparents of current Chairman of the Board Gerald E. Gill and great-great-grand- parents of President Gerald S. Gill II.

CassComm now serves nine counties and 33 communities through Cass Communications Management, Cass Cable TV, Cass Internet, Cass Telephone, Cass Tech Center, Cass Long Distance, Cass Advertising, Gillcrest Farms and Gillcrest Estate.

CassComm has nearly 100 employees and offers Internet, telephone, television and multimedia advertising capabilities. During the pandemic, Cass Communications offered promotions to school districts to ensure teachers and students had internet access for remote learning, and added more than 50 access points in 33 communities.

The Morgan County Health Department was honored for its efforts in the fight against COVID-19 in the community in addition to providing its other health care related services. Over the past two years, the agency has provided more than 5,000 tests and more than 20,000 vaccinations. It has also helped long-term care facilities deal with virus outbreaks, worked with school districts to keep in-person learning safe, and responded to more than 10,000 confirmed or probable cases by providing contact tracing or quarantine and isolation orders.

The health department was organized in May 1922 and was Illinois’ first full-time county health department. It provides services in 16 programs, including clinical services, environmental services, family planning, maternal and child health, immunizations and vital records. It provides about 10,000 vaccinations a year and partners with the SIU Center for Family Medicine Jacksonville to provide medical care to residents regardless of their ability to pay.

Outgoing Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce Board Members Casey French, Jim Krug, Lindsay McQueen and Emily Winters, as well as Past President Maryjane Million were recognized at the meeting and new members of the council were presented.

Gregory M. Roy