January 20, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated 32 businesses, individuals, and organizations with more than 600 members in attendance for their Annual Dinner Friday night. In addition to awards and entertainment, the group heard from 2022 Board Chair Brian Ballenger of Whisenhunt Construction as well as incoming 2023 Board Chair Jeff Carter of Bethany Theological Seminary.
This year’s “Wayne County – The Incredible Machine” theme showcased all things in Wayne County working together to drive the machine called community. “We celebrate Wayne County’s story of progress and highlight institutions and individuals who add to our collective and greater good,” Carter said.
Carter discussed various sectors coming to the table to lend their skills and time in situations such as the pandemic or the death of Officer Burton. “As we witnessed, this community, Chamber included, is at its best when all the pieces are connected, working in relationship with one another, and focused on a common purpose and mission. Yes, when working together, we are an incredible machine.”
The highest individual honor awarded by the Chamber was the 2022 Art Vivian Distinguished Community Leader going to Bob Bever of Boston Bever Forrest Cross & Sickmann (BBFCS Attorneys). “Serving on the Chamber Board for 30 years, many as an officer, Bob is one of the people that I have grown to treasure,” said Chamber President and CEO Melissa Vance. “He is a strong advocate for our community and our Chamber member businesses, and he has assisted numerous businesses launching and growing right here in Wayne County.”
Bever was instrumental in the creation and continuation of the largest law firm in East Central Indiana, BBFCS Attorneys. Bever was also closely involved in the creation of Wayne County’s Economic Development Corporation. He serves as legal counsel for the towns of Cambridge City and Dublin, and previously served as counsel for the City of Richmond.
He has served numerous nonprofit organizations including 20 years on the YMCA Board of Directors. Other board service includes Forest Hills Country Club, Reid Health Foundation, and Junior Achievement.
Also a big winner for the evening was Blue Buffalo, the 2022 Corporation of the Year. The business made their home in Richmond in 2016 and has since grown to 187 employees in a 450,000 square foot facility. The company is built on the purpose of “loving their herd, their brand and their community like family.”
Ivy Tech Chancellor Chad Bolser said, “As they began their journey in Richmond, they spent about a year with us on campus. I think the thing we noticed most about Blue Buffalo is they talked about their corporate culture.”
“From the first visit to Richmond, I knew this company was special, and they needed to be here,” added Economic Development Corporation President Valerie Shaffer.
Richmond Art Museum (RAM) was recognized with the Achievement in Excellence for a Nonprofit Award. The organization is celebrating its 125th anniversary as the second oldest art museum in the State of Indiana. It is housed within Richmond High School.
“I am in my 9th year as a member of the RAM Board of Trustees,” said former Indiana University East Chancellor Kathy Girten. “I have been continually impressed by its commitment to excellence. We are often the only art museum children in the region ever get to visit, and we are also the only art museum in the state with free admission.”
RAM operates a mobile outreach program to schools taking art directly to students with their “VanGo”. According to Centerville High School art teacher Chris Evrard, high school art students benefit by the short drive to view important, significant works of art. “One of the recent exhibits talked about respect and diversity…. It let them know their work can help impact people in a positive way.”
The second cohort of the Wayne County Leads (WC Leads) program was recognized. Aimed at young professionals under the age of 40, to program brought 10 professional development workshops on topics like leadership, community involvement, overcoming obstacles. Each member was partnered with a mentor who met with them during the program and will likely remain a mentor afterward. The recognized graduates were:
Other winners for the night included:
Volunteer of the Year: Sharrie Harlin-Davis, Reid Health
Champion of Diversity: Megan Johnson, Blue Buffalo
Bob Rosa Buy Local Award: Alan & Jackie Carberry, Warm Glow Candle Co.
Partner in Education: Future Achievers
Outstanding Service to Agriculture: Dr. Christy Herr
Achievement of Excellence – Small Business: Western Wayne News
Achievement of Excellence – Large Business: Wayne Bank
Public Service Award – Ken Paust, Retired Wayne County Commissioner
Educator of the Year – Kevin Munchel, Lincoln High School
Excellence in Higher Education – Tim Scales, Indiana University East
Outstanding Young Professional – Traci McCollum, Corner Café at the Leland
Each of the Chamber’s six committees named outstanding members as well:
Awards, Celebrations & Events Committee: Doug Macias, Natco Credit Union
Business & Education Committee: Theresa Lindsey, Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County
Buy Local Committee: Amy Dillon, Brewer Broadcasting
HYPE Wayne County: Terri Mitchell, Bethany Theological Seminary
Issues & Advocacy Committee: Eric Marsh, Whitewater Community Television
Member Outreach Committee: Paul Moore, Reid Health
The 2024 Chamber Annual Dinner will be held on January 19th, 2024.
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