Residents, business owners, village officials, and other supporters filled the Kissell Building for the 2014 West Unity Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet held on Wednesday, November 5 to both celebrate the successes of the Chamber through 2014 as well as to help recognize the honorees of the night.
Board member Kathy Merillat welcomed those in attendance and West Unity Mayor Peg Bernath gave the evening’s invocation.
Honored as Citizen of the Year was Lewis Hilkert, who after receiving his award gave a short speech, both acknowledging the community ties of West Unity and encouraging others to support and mentor others in the same way that he was supported and mentored in his youth. Also honored that evening were Kinetico – Unity Water Conditioning as 2014 Member of the Year; The Lions Club as the Merit Award Recipient; and Vice President Terri Lebowsky, who received the Bright Star Award from the Northern Ohio Area Chambers. Please see the full articles on each of the honorees for more information.
Also recognized were Terri Lebowski and Dave Cline, who will be leaving the Board after this term. Chamber President Alan Bennett spoke on behalf of the rest of the Board, thanking both for the time and energy that each have invested into the Board and community. Additionally, Dan Woodring was recognized and thanked for his decision to return to the Board.
While those who will soon be leaving the Board were recognized for their contributions, so too were those whom have recently decided to begin volunteering their time, talents, and energy. New Board members for 2015 include Lindsey Smith, Dena Filip, Jane Schmucker, and Bobby Jo Repp.
Attendees of the banquet were treated to a meal, catered by Mo-Jo’s, comprised of baked chicken, roast beef, roasted red potatoes, California blend vegetables, green beans, and a seven-layer salad. Cake was also provided for dessert by Chamber Secretary Martha Heer. Those in attendance were also treated to a musical performance by local favorite Alan Grant.
Grant, who also performed for the West Unity Fall Festival, is a Ney native who started his music career at the age of 17. He has performed with a number of local singing groups and was a top contender in “Williams County Idol”. Grant sings under the name of Sidewider Entertainment. For his performance at the banquet, Grant performed selections that included a little something for everyone, including “Pretty Woman” and “God Bless the U.S.A.”.
In recapping 2014, Chamber President Alan Bennett pointed out the Chambers success during the 2014 Business and Industry Show, the rise in Chamber members from 48 in 2013 to 62 in 2014, and the successes of the town’s festivals over the year.
June’s Gathering in Unity, a joint effort between the Chamber and the Unity Tractor Club, and was a well attended event. Life Flight joined into the festivities with both a fly over and a landing at the park that provided for public tours. Promedica also joined into the festivities by taking part in the annual parade. The annual Chicken Dinner saw the chamber selling 400 halves of BBQ chicken for the first time in six years.
The 127 breakfast held at the West Unity United Methodist Church, which coincides with the annual 127 Garage Sale also saw improvement in being able to cover costs for the year. The annual Fall Fest, reorganized in 2010 and coupled with Relay for Life Chili Cook-Off and the Brady Township Firemen’s Breakfast, also found much success. The silent auction saw more donations and raised more revenue than in previous years and the Festival enjoyed its best attendance in four years, which may be at least partially attributed to being held two weeks earlier in the year than in previous years.
Upcoming projects and events of the West Unity Area Chamber of Commerce include Santa’s arrival on December 6 and a mural to be done by the Millcreek-West Unity School’s Art Department at Friendship Park. Eagle Scouts will also soon be attending a Board meeting to present projects as well as two quotes for the materials to build benches. In addition, West Unity will once again participate in the Wreaths Across America project, which helps to lay wreathes on the graves of Veterans.
Closing remarks by given by Board member and Milcreek-West Unity School’s Superintendent Larry Long, who thanked everyone for their continued support of all of that which serves to build a community – its schools, residents, businesses, and officials.