Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce tells businesses, 'Kudos to you'

Marianne Gillespie
mgillespie@timestoday.com
The 68th annual Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce Banquet culminated with its annual awards. Pictured with their awards are, from left, Rachael Parker of Sweet Cakes by Rachael, Business of the Year; Mike Krost, Past President’s Award; Sandi Levell, Civic Achievement Award presented by the city; the Rev. Ted Mitchell of First United Methodist Church, Organization of the Year; Teresa Storti, Ambassador of the Year; and Irvin Latta of Maloof Realty, Member of the Year.

Sometimes the lessons learned along the way — big or small — can teach children, teenagers and adults the most.

That was one of Illinois Valley Central High School Counselor Mark Kosinski’s messages Saturday night at the 68th annual Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce Banquet.

With 126 people at Pearce Community Center, Kosinski used a recent example to convey that message.

Students in the Everyday Leadership Class, of which he and Matt Chapman teach, were behind the Grey Ghost moving to the high school from the city median on Walnut Street.

The students planned an unveiling for Wednesday during their charity basketball game in memory of Josh Pilger, raising funds for a scholarship in his name.

An unveiling suggests something covering the tall wooden Grey Ghost, so the students came up with constructing a shower-curtain like structure.

When the students rigged up the contraption, the wind quickly demolished their efforts.

Kosinski said he thought it was a failure and a waste of time, but the students had other things in mind.

One said, “That was awesome,” Kosinski said.

The students ended up hosting a welcoming of the Grey Ghost instead of an unveiling.

“It did point out that it’s the journey that’s important, not necessarily that you succeeded,” Kosinski said.

The class also learns throughout their semester about various points of leadership, including a lot of “little things,” such as listening.

He asked that the adults allow students to do things so they learn, and possibly, teach the adults a thing or two.

As it turned out, the night highlighted those who do many “little” things that add up to assisting the Chamber of Commerce and the city.

Mayor Doug Crew spoke briefly on city happenings and goals for the future.

Additionally, a citywide cleanup is planned for May 17 and in June, a cleanup including derelict vehicles. The city, he said, plans to be more proactive instead of complaint-driven by residents. Crew also said city officials could not expect for residents to clean up their properties if the city did not do the same.

He went on to name the Civic Achievement Award winner, longtime business owner and former alderwoman Sandi Levell.

Crew listed her many activities as The Hair Company owner in downtown Chillicothe, activities with the Hair Company Kids, sprucing up Chillicothe with the Shademakers Beautification Committee and more.

Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Rotermund and Chamber Facilitator Patty Pierson then handed out the chamber’s annual awards.

Mike Krost received the Past President’s Award, and is known for getting the chamber involved in a grassroots campaign years ago for the state and railroad to upgrade the viaduct on the city’s north side. While funding is still not in place for the overhaul, design work is being completed.

Rotermund announced it was time for the Business of the Year Award.

“I wish we could hand this out to all our businesses,” she said.

The business was noted for doing a “sweet” job as Sweet Cakes by Rachael received the award this year. City economic development director Rachael Parker owns the business.

“She has donated more cupcakes than I could eat in a lifetime,” Pierson told the crowd with a chuckle. Sweet Cakes by Rachael provided the cupcakes that were the dessert that night as well.

With a red, white and blue theme, the cupcakes of red and blue velvet, along with vanilla, offered a sweet ending to the meal, which was catered by Shawn Crabel of Catering by Design.

Speaking of food, First United Methodist Church received the Organization of the Year for its Weekend Snackpac program. The program recently expanded to not only South School students, but also Chillicothe Elementary Center. Students who are on reduced or free meals are eligible to receive a lunch sack of various food items such as granola bars, macaroni and cheese, fruit snacks, popcorn, etc. so that they have a meal for over the weekend.

For the next award, Rotermund began talking about the Member of the Year, who she said has “his hands in everyone’s pockets.” He not only raises funds for chamber endeavors but also as an Optimist working with Town Theatre.

Recipient Irvin Latta proved that as he walked to the front of the room as attendees stood and applauded and asked Rotermund if CECFU would give the chamber $1,000, sparking laughter.

Latta spoke briefly about coming to Chillicothe in 1977, and mentioned the handful of former chamber facilitators in the audience.

As they went around town and tried to bolster membership, they undoubtedly heard one thing over and over again, Latta said, “What can the chamber do for me?”

He said that is the wrong approach, and borrowing from President John F. Kennedy’s famous speech, he said business owners should ask, “How can I help the chamber?”

“Ask what you can do for the chamber not what the chamber can do for you,” Latta said.

Ambassador Chairwoman Diane Denekas gave out the final award of the night to the Ambassador of the Year. She said this year’s honoree goes to every event, along with her husband. Ambassadors assist in helping Pierson with activities or office work if need be.

The award was given to Teresa Storti, who, along with her husband, Matt, checked in and welcomed those attending the banquet that night.

With a theme of “Kudos to You,” the banquet highlighted the activities of the past year, including a game of attendees seeing how many activities they could guess represented by photos on a board.

No matter what event may be going on, Chillicothe has one distinct advantage, pointed out by Crew that night.

The community has a “strong sense of caring” and specifically mentioned the Chillicothe St. Jude Runners raising $262,000, which comes in third locally in fundraising for the research hospital.