EATON — The Preble County Chamber of Commerce turned its annual awards dinner into a holiday day gala, celebrating a year of business and professional successes and enjoying the Christmas season on Wednesday, Dec. 7.
This was the 35th year the chamber took a special evening to honor businesses and individuals nominated by chamber members.
Jason Moles, 2016 Preble County Chamber Board Chairperson, welcomed those in attendance, and honored outgoing board members Dave Weber, who was unable to attend, and Joanie McDaniel, who was presented a special award for her service.
Moles was later honored as outgoing board chair.
Home Is The Foundation employee Toni Morgan was recognized as the chamber’s Citizen of the Year.
Morgan is a program coordinator for HIT, who helps people “because that’s the person she is,” Moles said.
“Honestly this recognition has very little do about me,” Morgan said. “You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. I have a championship team.” Morgan recognized and thanked her family, coworkers, and others.
“My small part of the cold shelter is a small part of a bright and shiny example of what a community can accomplish when we come together,” she said. “The real winners are our guests who come in out of the cold.”
Lewisburg Village Manager Jeff Sewert received the Distinguished Service Award. Chair-elect Cindy Kaufman said every advancement Preble County makes, every committee doing something great, it seems “Jeff Sewert is involved somehow.”
“He’s just one of those great people you just can’t say enough about,” Kaufman said.
Sewert is vice president of the Preble County Historical Society, is treasurer of the Preble County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, and is outgoing chair of the Preble County Development Partnership.
“I look out in the audience tonight and there are many more people out there that deserve this award more than I,” Sewert said. He dedicated the award to his father.
“He taught me the word volunteer and how to do so,” Sewert said. “He taught me to give back to the community. But the most important thing he taught me was respect.”
Rexarc’s Robert Moyer was honored as Young Professional of the Year. Moles called Moyer “passionate about training, developing and empowering the employees of Rexarc.”
“Growing up in Preble County, many of you have seen some of the achievements I’ve accomplished — this is just another one that I will use as a springboard onto others, as an ‘old professional,” Moyer joked. He spoke of the great team at RexArc and offered thanks for the honor.
Wildcat Sports & Graphics in Eaton was named Small Business of the Year, while L&M Products was named Business of the Year. Latanza presented owner Jeff Weireter with the award.
Weireter said he has the “best customers.” He thanked the Preble County Development Partnership for its services, his family, and God.
L&M Executive Director Terry Stevens accepted the Business of the Year award on behalf of her board, staff, and the people they serve.
“2016 was a great year of excitement for us,” Stevens said. The new Wagner Center, home of L&M Products, opened its doors to the community in July. L&M purchased and moved into the former Eaton Church of the Brethren located at 1407 N. Barron Street in Eaton.
Plans call for the new facility to welcome community members into the new building for meetings, activities and events. This will aid in the integration of people into the community, give them life experiences and help teach skills.
Dow Chemical Company of West Alexandria was awarded the Outstanding Recycling Program Award.
Special guest speaker for the evening was Matt Appenzeller, executive director of Southern Ohio Chamber Alliance. He spoke about the health insurance programs offered on the SOCA benefit plan. Preble County Economic Development Directory Brenday Latanza reported on the progress of the Preble County Development Partnership.
This year’s awards gala, held at The Grange in Eaton, was sponsored by Premier Sponsor, Mary Bullen; Principal Sponsor Henny Penny; and supporting sponsors LCNB, SOCA and the PCDP. Dinner was provided by Buckeye Jake’s of West Alexandria.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.