Ryan Lemon garnered polite applause when he was announced as the 2017 chairman of the board for the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce, but it wasn’t until he was well into a rendition of “Proud to be a Manly Man” that the ladies went wild — admittedly at the direction of Lemon’s duet partner.
That performance came at the end of the chamber’s 93rd annual dinner, held Monday evening, Jan. 16, at the Huntington PAL Club. Lemon takes over the chamber board’s top spot from Kay Schwob, who praised her fellow chamber members for their accomplishments in 2016.
“It’s been a fun year,” she told the full house. At just under 400 members, she added, “I think we are one of the strongest chambers in our area for our size.”
First Federal Savings Bank, headquartered in Huntington, was recognized with the chamber’s Community Excellence Award in recognition of its involvement with the community.
“This business has offered their assistance with the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA, the Huntington County Community Learning Center, Parkview Boys & Girls Club, Huntington County United Way, Huntington University and more,” Schwob said. “Along with their support, this company also encourages its employees to sit on various boards around the community.”
The award was accepted by Randy Sizemore, the bank’s senior vice president and chief financial officer.
Craig and Judy Lee were recognized as Volunteers of the Year for their dedication to the chamber-sponsored Heritage Days festival.
“I don’t know how they do all that and still run the KFC,” Schwob said.
The husband-and-wife team has served on the Heritage Days steering committee for 17 years, the last two as co-chairs, and have also been involved with the festival’s Kids Zone, marketplace, pony rides, bounce houses, bed races and the balloon festival.
Steve Godfroy, human resources and safety director at Perfection Wheel, was honored as Ambassador of the Year. The chamber’s ambassadors represent the chamber in the community.
Godfroy, Schwob said, “is always available to attend ribbon cuttings, open houses, Business of the Month celebrations, After Hours and more.”
Schwob recognized outgoing chamber board members Michael Zahn, who had served since 2011, and Adam Stroup, who joined the board in 2014.
Their seats on the board will be assumed by incoming members Eric Fawcett, executive vice president of Bippus State Bank, and John Garrott, internal audit manager at Beacon Credit Union.
Schwob introduced Lemon as the new chamber board chairman. Lemon, an employee of Novae Corp., has lived in Huntington since 2004 and also serves on the board of the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA. He has previously been involved with Junior Achievement, Big Brothers Big Sisters and United Way of Huntington County.
“The chamber’s impact is only as strong as the support from you,” Lemon told his fellow chamber members, urging them to participate in all the events and activities the chamber offers.
Schwob, he noted, led “an extremely successful 2016 chamber campaign.”
Schwob recounted the chamber’s past year, which saw the implementation of an “Eat-Shop-Live” social media promotion and the chamber’s business expo, which was condensed from the two-day affair of past years into just one day.
“I think it was a rousing success,” Schwob said of the shorter expo.
Heritage Days saw changes, too, with events relocating from Warren Street to Cherry Street. The Farmers’ Market growth includes acceptance of credit, debit and EBT cards as well as WIC vouchers.
The chamber and many of its members supported the Huntington County Community Learning Center, Schwob said, which opened last August, and the chamber’s involvement in Huntington North High School’s annual Career Day allows the school’s freshmen a glimpse of career possibilities.
The chamber also coordinated Huntington County’s participation in the Indiana bicentennial celebration, a task for which Chamber Executive Director Steve Kimmel thanked his “entire staff” — Angie Garcia.
Following the dinner and official chamber business, attendees were entertained by comedian Rik Roberts, who led the crowd through ruminations on high cholesterol, marriage and parenthood, Sea World, rental cars, speeders and police, Al Gore and Ray Stevens before pulling out his guitar and pulling Lemon up on stage for a final musical number.