Chamber honors those who make the city work

Lee Pasko (left), the 2013 Huntington County Chamber of Commerce board president, and Nicole Johnson (right) the 2012 board chairman, flank several award winners named Monday, Jan. 21, at the 2013 chamber annual dinner. Photo by Scott Trauner.

The Huntington County Chamber of Commerce celebrated its successes, welcomed new faces and bid farewell to several long-serving volunteers during its annual dinner on Monday, Jan. 21.

Chamber membership now stands at 401, a record for the local organization, Executive Director Steve Kimmel told the crowd at the Huntington PAL Club. The dinner crowd of 215 people, too, set a new record, he said.

Kimmel lauded Nicole Johnson, of Edward Jones & Company, who wrapped up her year as chairman of the chamber's board at the annual dinner.

"Nicole, you did a fantastic job," he said. "We appreciate all the work you put in."

"She is definitely someone who is passionate about what she does," said Lee Pasko, of iAB financial bank, who succeeds Johnson as chairman of the board.

Johnson had some kudos of her own to hand out. The 2012 chairman also urged more people to get involved with chamber functions and other community activities.

"Huntington can't be the great place it needs to be unless we all get together to do that," Johnson said.
Johnson offered her thanks to the volunteers involved in the chamber's four main activities - the Chamber Ambassadors, who represent the organization at business openings and other events; Huntington County Business Expo co-chairs Scott Trauner and Jim Scheiber and their committees; the Heritage Days steering committee and chairman Joe Burgess; and the committee that staged A BIG Day, an annual golf outing and dinner.

Three volunteers and
two businesses were singled out for formal awards.
Johnson presented the Volunteer of the Year award to Phyllis Renz, of the Huntington County Visitor and Convention Bureau. Renz, she said, has assisted with Heritage Days planning for many years and, when the window decorating contest was in danger of dying out for lack of a chairman, took over that responsibility as well. Renz is also a vital part of the downtown business organization, she said.

Terry Miller, of Real Living Ness Bros. Real Estate, was named Ambassador of the Year. Miller volunteered to become a Chamber Ambassador several years ago and is a near constant presence at Ambassador functions, Johnson said.

Rose Wall, who is leaving the chamber board after eight years of service, received the Chairman's Award. Wall not only did what was asked of her, Johnson said, but continually looked for other ways to serve.

DeWeese Soft Water and Appliance, of Warren, was tapped for the Community Excellence Award, presented to a business that gives to the community without expecting anything in return. The Warren business is always willing to donate water and popcorn bags, and sometimes even freezers, to community events. Business owner George DeWeese was not in attendance to accept the award; Johnson said he told her he didn't deserve the award because he hadn't done anything out of the ordinary.

The Chamber Partner Award went to Our Sunday Visitor for its support of chamber events. In celebration of its 100th anniversary this year, Johnson noted, OSV donated 100 trees to be planted around the city.

Four retiring board members were recognized. They are Tracey Shafer, of the Huntington County Community School Corporation; Seth Marshall, of BSB Investments; Rose Wall, a former business owner; and Rich Najuch, co-owner of the New Huntington Theatre and Supper Club.

Their seats on the chamber's board of directors will be filled by four newly-elected members - Ryan Lemon, of the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA; Trace Hinesley, of the Huntington County Community School Corporation; Joseph Santa, of TrophyCenter Plus; and Kay Schwob, of Huntington University.

After business was taken care of, the crowd was entertained by Midwest Dueling Pianos.

Performers Rusty Northrop and Evan Burgess played tunes requested by the audience.

Complete caption:
Lee Pasko (left), the 2013 Huntington County Chamber of Commerce board president, and Nicole Johnson (right) the 2012 board chairman, flank several award winners named Monday, Jan. 21, at the 2013 chamber annual dinner at the Huntington PAL Club. Honorees are (from second left) Kyle Hamilton, of Our Sunday Visitor, which earned the Chamber Partner Award; Rose Wall, winner of the Chairman's Award; Phyllis Renz, Volunteer of the Year; and Terry Miller, Chamber Ambassador of the Year.