By Lauren Cabral

The Cove Herald

A piece of Copperas Cove transformed into Sin City Saturday when the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce "Texas Vegas Style" Banquet took place at the Copperas Cove Civic Center.

Not one but two Elvises made surprise appearances at the event, where about 325 people enjoyed Big Hoss BBQ, a cash bar, a silent auction and an ATV raffle.

Guests played craps, roulette, blackjack and poker not to win money, but to win prizes by exchanging their chips for tickets to enter in a series of drawings. The silent auction was also a hit as guests bid on a cruise, a leather recliner and other items.

Chamber President Marty Smith said the amount raised by the event was not yet totaled, but funds were not what was important.

"Everybody had a good, good time, and that was the purpose," she said.

New Cove residents Johnny and Vanessa Moldanado were no exception.

"This is pretty cool," Johnny said Saturday. "It reminds me of home."

The couple recently moved to the area from New Mexico, and welcomed the familiar atmosphere.

"As soon as I get to the table I'll be fine because I'm going through casino withdrawal," Vanessa said.

Kurt Pinkerton began his night at the craps table, where he'd had luck before.

"I've played one time in Vegas, and I was very successful," he said. "So I've been warming up to go back."

The Chamber rented game tables and dealers from the Copperas Cove Rotary Club, and those funds will go toward the Paul Harris Foundation to eradicate polio in third world countries.

Before the festivities began, Mark Peterson, president of the chamber board, issued his "State of the Chamber" address. He said there were 38 new additions to the chamber in 2010, bringing the grand total of members to 440.

The chamber also honored businesses and individuals who had served the community.

Chairperson Paula Cobb was named Ambassador of the Year, which she wasn't expecting.

"It was a surprise," Cobb said. She noted her boyfriend, William "Sonny" Hinchman, had died serving in Iraq in 2009, and the community helped her to get through the tragedy.

Since then, she has been trying to do all she could for the chamber to show her appreciation.

"The City of Copperas Cove was amazing to me, so I feel like I have to pay it forward and give back," she said. "I'd do it without an award."

Contact Lauren Cabral at or (254) 501-7476.

'10 Chamber Awards

Large Business of the Year – H-E-B

Medium Business of the Year – Western Insurance

Small Business of the Year – Bella Sera

Good Friend of the Chamber – Best Western; Comfort Inn and Suites

Ambassador of the Year – Paula Cobb

Supporters of the Chamber – Jack Smith of Donlie McMullin Realty; Doreen Vasseur of the YMCA

Yes Award – Schlotsky's Deli

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