CAMDEN — The Preble County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 34th Annual Awards Dinner Wednesday, Feb. 3, at Preble Shawnee High School.
Chamber Director Matt Owen welcomed those attending the event which honors the Business of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Young Professional of the Year and Citizen of the Year — and presents Legacy and Distinguished Service Awards each year.
The 2015 Citizen of the Year was Sheriff Mike Simpson.
Commissioner Rodney Creech presented the award, noting much of the sheriff’s history in Preble County:
“Sheriff Michael Simpson began his career with the Sheriff’s Office as a Corrections Officer/Dispatcher in July 1988. He served in that capacity until December 1990, when he was promoted to Deputy Sheriff assigned to road patrol. In January 1998, he was promoted to the rank of Captain by Sheriff Tom Hayes, serving as a road patrol supervisor. On July 5, 2003, he was promoted to the rank of Chief Deputy, serving as second in command under Sheriff Hayes.
“On Dec. 3, 2003, he was appointed Sheriff of Preble County after the unexpected death of Sheriff Hayes. Sheriff Simpson was elected to his first full term as Sheriff in November, 2004. Sheriff Simpson is currently in his 28th year of service with this office.
“Sheriff Simpson has attended numerous law enforcement training classes throughout his career, including the Evidence Technician Course at the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab, Technical Crash Investigations at the Ohio Highway Patrol Academy, and several management courses offered through the Ohio Peace Officer’s Training Academy.
“Sheriff Simpson is a graduate of the 141st Class of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command in 2000, and the 217th Session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia in 2004, and the National Sheriff’s Institute in Longmont, Colorado in 2005. Simpson has maintained his Certified Law Enforcement Manager’s certificate from the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association since 2004. He is also an active member of the Floyd E. Spitler Lodge of the F.O.P., and a Rotarian with the Eaton Rotary Club. Sheriff Simpson is currently serving as the 2nd Vice President of the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association. He also serves on several volunteer boards throughout the county.”
Rep. Jeff Rezabek presented this year’s Distinguished Service Award to former Eaton Mayor Gary Wagner.
He noted: “Wagner has been a part of the Eaton workforce since he filled out his first application in 1964. He was just 18 years old at the time but has served the community in some capacity ever since.
“In 1966 Gary joined the Eaton fire department. He resigned in ‘79 before being rehired by the city in ’82, retiring once again in ’99. Just one year after his second retirement, he was brought back on to do contract work. In 2003 he was voted onto Eaton City Council where, during his first night in office, he was elected the vice-mayor. Gary was re-elected to the same role in 2007 before stepping into the mayor’s role in 2009. Getting involved and serving the community was an example set by Gary’s father.”
“I guess it’s in my family background,” it was noted Wagner said. “My father was my mentor when I was younger and he was always doing public service work of some kind or another. When it came time for me to have the opportunity to do that, I did it.”
This past December Wagner participated in his last council meeting and officially retired from public office.
“In his retirement, Gary will still have his consulting business and his love of hot rods to keep him busy,” Rezabek said. “But he also plans on traveling and spending more time with his family.”
Business of the Year was awarded to TimkenSteel. TimkenSteel’s St. Clair plant in Eaton has a growing workforce and utilizes state-of-the-art technology to transform raw steel into components such as pinions and ring gears. Its customers include major auto manufacturers and industrial companies. St. Clair recently increased its workforce by 30 percent to 90 employees and is looking to fill 10 more positions due to strong demand for its products.
Small Business of the Year was awarded to Daylight Donuts. Starting Daylight Donuts in Eaton has been a new and exciting adventure for Paula Murray and Katrina Tyler. Both Preble County residents recently retired from office positions with 60-plus years combined experience. Their dream was to bring to Eaton “the very best made-from-scratch donuts possible, but also creating jobs in a wholesome, family friendly, encouraging environment.”
Young Professional of the Year was presented to Kyle Cross, current Preble County Engineer. Cross serves on the Ohio Public Works Integrating Committee where he has secured over $5 million in grants for projects countywide. He is also a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. He volunteers countless hours to the Eaton Little League Program where he serves as president. He is a dedicated and active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Eaton. Cross has received several awards for the Hueston Woods Covered Bridge which was completed in 2012, and was recognized for the “Build a Better Mousetrap Award” for achievements in his bridge department and was presented The Seven Mile Road Bridge Award from the Federal Highway Administration/ODOT and the State Historical Office. Cross is the youngest county engineer to be elected in the State of Ohio.
Legacy Awards were presented to retired Judge Wilfrid Dues, and posthumously to Jack Cobb.
Sen. Bill Beagle honored Dues:
“In 1975 exactly one day after graduating from Notre Dame Bill Dues took the position of Vise President & Trust Officer at Eaton National Bank & Trust. The bank informed Bill that they wanted him to be the face of their institution and encouraged him to get involved with the community. After five years with the bank, Bill was elected Prosecuting Attorney for Preble County in 1980 where he was elected two more times until he was elected to the bench as Common Pleas Judge for the Juvenile and Probate Division in February of 1991. There Judge Dues served for 24 years until his retirement in February 2015.
“For a majority of his professional career Judge Dues has dedicated himself to the youth of Preble County. In 1992 he spearheaded the formation of the Preble County Youth Foundation. The concept was to engage with young kids who needed mentoring. What started out as basketball and pizza turned into much more. The Youth Foundation grew and gained credibility and the result was the idea of a Youth Center. Bill went to work with his resources and the Foundation raised $2.1 million in 90 days and the result turned out to be the Preble County “Y” and the Sinclair Learning Center. Bill also assisted in getting Kettering Medical Center Network to Preble County.”
In 2014 Dues was instrumental in helping bring the Kettering Emergency Room facility to Eaton. Over the years, Dues has been involved with everything from Eaton High School booster clubs to the United Way to the Eaton Chamber of Commerce.
Dues, in turn, honored Cobb with a Lifetime Legacy Award.
“Jack Cobb started at Henny Penny in 1959. He was the company’s fourth employee. He became vice president in 1970 and six years later he became president when he and a business partner purchased the company. Under Jack, the company grew to be one of the world’s leading foodservice equipment manufactures. In 1985, Jack became sole owner of Henny Penny and served as President and CEO until 1996.
“During Jack’s career with Henny Penny he was well known for his leadership and vision for the company, but he was even better known for caring for the people who worked there. He was loyal to his employees and in return they were loyal to him. He empowered them to make decisions. He was known for being tough, but fair,” Dues pointed out.
“Jack’s commitment reached far beyond Henny Penny. His fingerprint on the community is everywhere. Jack served as President of Eaton Little League when his kids were young. He served on Eaton City Council and was mayor in the early 70’s. He was on the board of directors for the Germantown Federal Savings Bank for 22 years, he was co-chair of the Preble County YMCA Capital Campaign and a active member of the Eaton City Schools Master Planning Committee and was a proud member of Eaton Rotary for 51 years.”
Cobb’s son, Steve, accepted the award.
Outgoing board members were also honored at the event. Those recognized were Dianna Houser and Dave Weber.
Houser served on the PC Chamber Board of Directors since 2013. She has served on the Chamber’s Executive Board, Finance Committee and served as Board Treasurer. She is a lifelong resident of Preble County and recently retired from U.S. Bank.
Weber is the outgoing Board Chairman for 2015. Weber has been involved with the Chamber since 2012 and has served on numerous committees including the Business Expo Committee, Golf Outing Committee, the Annual Awards Dinner Committee, as well as the Chamber’s Executive Committee. He has also served as the Chamber’s representative on the Preble County Development Partnership board and will serve as immediate past chair on the Chamber board in 2016.
“Dave has provided great leadership and direction in his service as Board Chair,” Owen said.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.