MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon-Knox County Chamber of Commerce is on sound footing financially, outgoing chairman Gene Jackson told those in attendance during Saturday night’s annual meeting and awards dinner.
Jackson encouraged chamber members to become more involved as ambassadors, and thanked members for their contributions to the chamber and the community.
Myra Wilson was honored with the Chairman’s Award.
“Near perfect attendance, active committee member, goes to HR person for job descriptions, annual reviews, by-law updates and revisions. Always there, always willing, never says no and happy to help,” was Jackson’s description of Wilson.
Jackson then introduced the 2009 board chairman Dr. Keith Newman, vice president of university relations of Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Newman spoke of the nation being “in the midst of an economic storm, unlike what most of us has ever experienced.” He compared that storm to Hurricane Katrina and the valiant efforts of those from around the world to rebuild the Gulf Coast.
“I guess my message to you tonight, as we look to the future, is that our economic storm will require us all pitching in and working together. … Storms have a way of testing and trying, but it is also possible to emerge stronger and more efficient on the other side,” he said.
The chamber board of directors was introduced, with the awards ceremony following.
The Heart Award was presented to the B&O Train Depot for its achievement in maintaining architecture that complements the community. Each of the nominees “are examples of structures designed to reflect and enhance the community around them,” said Clint Bailey, who presented the award.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis accepted the award and gave credit to those businesses and individuals, including Ariel Corp. and Mount Vernon City Council, that had the vision and determination to restore part of the city’s past and make it an active part of it’s present and future.
Mount Vernon Country Club and Peirce Hall at Kenyon College were also nominated. The award was sponsored by Critchfield, Critchfield & Johnston.
The Foundation for Knox Community Hospital was named the recipient of the Quality of Life Award. This honor is bestowed on a chamber member whose work enriches the lives of Knox County residents.
“This year’s recipient is a volunteer organization dedicated to raising funds for priority medical equipment. They believe much of the strength of recovery lies in having excellent health care close to home, with neighbors caring for neighbors,” said Bruce White, chief executive officer of Knox Community Hospital. The foundation raised $360,000 in 10 months to purchase a digital mammography unit.
Foundation chairman Charlie Brenneman gave credit to the hard work of members such as Tom Fosnaught, Lynn Clapper and Kim Rose, who helped put the organization together. He said the project was the biggest undertaking of the foundation so far and that it is the dedication of not only the members but the community as a whole that the project and the foundation have been such a success.
“This award truly belongs to the community of Knox County,” Brenneman said.
Knox Community Hospital sponsored the Quality of Life Award. The Station Break Senior Center and United Way of Knox County were also nominated.
Central Ohio Technical College sponsored the Investor in the Future Award. COTC President Dr. Bonnie Coe presented the award to Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
“There can be no better measure of a community than its commitment to its next generation,” Coe said. “This year’s recipient is a community partner, who offers excellence in education while supporting local businesses and organizations in creating a better life for Knox County residents.”
MVNU President Dr. Daniel J. Martin thanked the chamber for the honor and shared that the connection between MVNU and Knox County is merely a return on the community’s investment in the donation of Lakeholm farm to the school in 1966.
“We owe a great debt to the community,” Martin said. “Together, we can continue to invest in our shared future.”
Fredericktown Schools and Sanoh America were also nominated.
John Walsh, a representative of Fredericktown Chevrolet, sponsor of the Women in Business Leadership Award, passed on the award to Carol Garner.
The award honors a woman who “serves as a role model, encouraging women to achieve their full leadership potential,” said Thom Collier, master of ceremonies.
Garner served as director for Knox County’s Big Brother/Big Sister organization, in which over 100 adult mentors were matched with children from single-parent homes. She was director of Columbus Council on World Affairs and was the first woman to lead a trade mission through Vietnam after the United States embargo was lifted. As director of development for KCH, Garner has raised over $2 million for hospital expansion and to purchase equipment, Walsh said.
Garner spoke to the crowd about the importance of finding mentors who were willing to help open the doors for women in business.
“This is really about women in business and what they can accomplish,” Garner said. “I’ve had a lot of mentors and they did a lot for me. It hasn’t been easy for women to get into business.”
Kay Culbertson and Sally Nelson were also nominated in this category.
Robert Lantz was honored with the Paul Slaughter Volunteer of the Year Award by Jim Kelly of Embarq, award sponsor.
“The coveted Paul Slaughter Volunteer of the Year Award is received by an individual whose business has been a chamber member for at least two years, who consistently volunteers for community and chamber projects, and has contributed to a single, unique project in the community in the past two years,” Collier said.
Lantz’s bio information is dotted with involvement in local clubs and organizations and he also “drives medical patients to out-of-town doctors for Interchurch Social Services,” Kelly said.
“I consider it a privilege to be able to work with the various organizations I belong to,” Lantz said. “There are many things I can do. A lot of things I don’t do very well. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to work with these organizations to use the abilities that I have.”
Body Basics Health & Fitness Club, Killbuck Savings Bank Co. and Parkside Restaurant and Tavern vied for the honor of Small Business of the Year Award. Sponsored by Zelkowitz, Barry and Cullers, the award was presented by Collier to Parkside Restaurant.
This award “recognizes a business of less than 50 employees who contribute to both chamber and community projects, has a reputation for integrity as well as successful solutions to business issues,” Collier said.
Parkside has hosted fundraisers for various charitable organizations throughout 2008 and sponsors several youth athletic teams.
Owner Jeff Boucher proved to be a man of few words by acknowledging the community’s support of the family business and gave credit to his wife, daughter and son-in-law for their efforts. He also expressed his appreciation for his mother, who was in the audience.
“It all started with you mom, so thanks a lot,” Boucher said.
The Business of the Year Award reflects a continued commitment to a business with over 50 employees which has been in operation for more than five years.
“They each consistently contribute to both chamber and community projects and have a reputation for integrity and fair business practice,” Collier said of the nominees Kokosing Construction, Mount Vernon Nazarene University and Rolls-Royce Energy Systems.
“This year’s recipient is a family-owned business that started in Knox County in 1951,” said award presenter Gordon Yance of First-Knox National Bank regarding the winner, Kokosing Construction. “The Knox County area has and continued to provide it some of the most talented people in the construction industry. These people are a real strength for the company. Today, it has grown to be the 78th largest general contractor in the United States with revenues of $765 million in 2007, providing work for over 2,800 employees.”
“I never dreamed we would receive this,” said Marsha Rinehart, executive vice president of Kokosing Construction. “This is all because of the people we have in our company, and most of them are from Knox County.”
Following Win Curry’s receipt of the Lifetime Achievement Award, the annual meeting was adjourned.