PREBLE COUNTY — Preble County has a little bit of everything. There are international manufacturers and unique boutiques, mom-and-pop restaurants, and businesses of all sorts
The Preble County Chamber of Commerce had to suspend plans for its annual Holiday Gala and Awards Celebration this year due to COVID-19 restrictions but took time to personally honor a few award recipients on Monday, Dec. 14.
It has been a year of continued uncertainty, one highlighted by a global pandemic and economic hardship – but still, Preble County Chamber of Commerce members and other local businesses have persevered: some opened new locations, many have begun work toward bouncing back from earlier shutdowns and coronavirus restrictions. Preble County’s business community has remained #PrebleCountyStrong.
Nominations for this year’s annual awards were accepted earlier this fall, in the categories of Outstanding Corporate Citizen of the Year, Outstanding Small Business Citizen of the Year, Citizen of the Year, and Young Professional of the Year. Several nominations were received in all categories — except Outstanding Corporate Citizen, which will not be presented for 2020 for this reason. A special Legacy Award was also presented.
The Preble County Chamber’s Membership Ambassador team visited the award recipients in “surprise” visits at their places of business.
This year’s Outstanding Small Business Citizen of the Year recipient was Eaton Floral LLC. One nomination noted, “(Owner) Angela Bryant has supported many great causes over the years with help of the employees who have worked for her over the years. She has been a wonderful supporter of Ty’s Christmas Wish, Jacob’s Ladder, and many other nonprofits in the Preble County area. She has always been willing to help those in need.”
Other nominees for this year’s award included First Impression Wear/Andrea Thompson (Eaton), The Brick Rhod Bistro in Lewisburg, Bratt Tasties/Tina Wagers in West Alexandria and Hometown Title/Jill Hittle (Eaton).
This year’s Young Professional of the Year is Jordan Clapp of Shelter Insurance. One nomination noted, “I love seeing our own moving back to Preble County and starting the business of his dreams. Entrepreneurs coming home is always good. He carries three licenses, gave a scholarship to an Eaton High School student, volunteers at Habitat for Humanity, gives to Toys for Tots, and is a veteran. He is an outstanding young man.”
Other nominees for Young Professional of the Year included John Grieshop of John’s Tire Service and Lindsay Watson of the HIT Foundation.
From the nominations received, the Preble County Chamber’s own Executive Director, Leslie Collins, was selected in a surprise board action as this year’s Preble County Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.
“The true definition of the ‘Citizen of the Year’ is embodied by this year’s recipient,” said current Preble County Chamber of Commerce Chairperson Jeff Sewert. “The recipient, a Preble County resident, best exemplifies outstanding service to the Preble County community. This individual has represented herself and the Chamber well in a professional and leadership role through the past unprecedented year, by communicating each and every day to our residents and business community the ways to stay safe and healthy – while sharing the many resources available to ensure our businesses were afforded every opportunity during the COVID-19 pandemic”
Chairperson Sewert continued, “Leslie has gone beyond the call of duty with her respect for Preble County residents and businesses. She is one who says Preble County is her home and her life – and I say she is its future, never saying no. Whatever she can do to make things better, she will do so.”
“Thank you very much, Leslie. It has been an honor to serve alongside you this past year, one I’ll never forget.”
Other nominations for Citizen of the Year included Preble County residents Karen Marshall, who was nominated for the impact she has made on the knowledge of cystic fibrosis in the Preble County area and resident Lisa White who was nominated for her work at the Preble County Historical Society and as color guard coach at Eaton High School.
The Register-Herald was recognized with the Preble County Chamber’s 2020 Legacy Award, celebrating the publication’s 200th year covering Preble County.
The Register-Herald’s past dates back to early summer 1820, when Cornelius VanAusdal, while serving in the Ohio state legislature, began publishing the Eaton Register.
The Eaton Herald was started in 1896 by E.B. Harkrider and his brother as an independent newspaper. In 1902, it was sold to Charles B. Unger, and in March 1918, (the month the first cases of the Spanish Flu pandemic showed up in the U.S., according to reports) the Eaton Register and Eaton Herald were consolidated and first published under the name The Register-Herald. The Register-Herald has been a Preble County Chamber member for over 30 years.
The annual awards, presented by Reid Health, are also sponsored by Preble County Development Partnership, Brubaker Grain & Chemical, Opti-Vise IT, LCNB and Preble County Power Equipment & Rental.