During the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority's annual holiday reception on Wednesday, Dec. 4, members of the hospitality and tourism industry gathered to recognize this year's leading professionals, attractions, and events.

Award recipients were announced for the Chester F. Dobis Public Service in Hospitality Award, Elected Official of the Year, Most Innovative Attraction, Best New Attraction, Bring It Home Hero and Event of the Year.

W. F. "Bill" Wellman was awarded the 2013 Chester F. Dobis Public Service in Hospitality Award. Wellman has been serving the hospitality and tourism industry for more than 50 years. Early in his career, he developed Holiday Inns in both Valparaiso and Portage, as well as Wellman's Restaurant, Bowling Lanes and Bridge VU Dinner/Theatre in Valparaiso. He participated in the design and development of the 3400-seat Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, which he was the general manager for during the first 2-and-a-half years of operation. Currently, Wellman is the Senior Vice President of Communications for Whiteco Industries, Inc.

Mayors Joseph M. Stahura and David D.F. Uran were awarded the 2013 Elected Official of the Year award. Mayor Stahura was awarded Elected Official of the Year for his continued work to bring the Chicago Baseball Museum and the Mascot Hall of Fame to the City of Whiting. Mayor Stahura's vision for the development of Whiting's lakefront also includes a luxury hotel, lakefront restaurants and new sports venues with the objective being to attract visitors to Whiting to support local businesses.

Mayor Uran was awarded Elected Official of the Year for his work on the Crown Point Sportsplex. Mayor Uran has worked with other local elected officials and youth sports organizations for the vision of the Sportsplex, in which he secured millions of dollars from the White Foundation to build an elite youth sports complex for the children and families of Crown Point and the region.

Award recipients also include Fair Oaks Farms Pig Adventure for the 2013 Most Innovative Attraction, Jak's Warehouse for the 2013 Best New Attraction, Pastor Ron Johnson, Jr. for the 2013 Bring It Home Hero Award for the Band of Brothers conference and the Professional Disc Golf Association PDGA World Championships for the 2013 Event of the Year.

"The annual Hospitality Awards recognize the professionals and businesses who are bringing visitors to the region," stated Speros A. Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore CVA. "Dedicated and innovative leaders in the tourism industry are what keep Northwest Indiana competitive with other destinations."

The awards were presented during the South Shore CVA's 30th annual holiday reception celebrating the launch of the holiday season in the W.F. Wellman Exhibit Hall at the Indiana Welcome Center.

To nominate an individual or organization for one of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority's annual recognitions, contact Nicki Mackowski-Gladstone, vice president and chief communication officer, at 219-989-7770.