POMEROY — Local businesses and individuals were recently honored during the annual Meigs County Chamber Gala.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than the traditional in-person awards ceremony and dinner, a video production of the awards ceremony was streamed online for the first Virtual Chamber Gala. The video can still be viewed on the Meigs County Chamber and Tourism Facebook page.
Awards presented were the Outstanding Citizen, Outstanding Public Servant, Community Pillar, Entrepreneur of the Year, Best First Impression and Lifetime Business Achievement.
Outstanding Citizen — Stephanie Rife
Stephanie Rife was recognized as the 2020 recipient of the Meigs County Chamber Outstanding Citizen of the Year. Rife is a community volunteer, Meigs County Farmers’ Market Manager and is known for her advocacy in the area.
In comments during the Gala, Rife described her community involvement and involving her daughters in the volunteer work.
“You can’t learn character traits in a book; that’s where my community work came from. I knew this was something I couldn’t teach at home,” said Rife of getting involved in the community around five years ago with the Mulberry Community Kitchen and including her daughters in the work.
The Mulberry Community Kitchen serves lunch on Tuesdays and Thursday at 11:30 a.m. for $3 per meal, although no one is turned away for inability to pay.
Rife’s work at the kitchen and the market have also come together over the past two years, with vendors at the market donating hundreds of pounds of fresh produce to the kitchen throughout the season.
Rife spoke of the unity that comes from the market, bringing together the village and county officials, vendors and community members who are there each Saturday, rain or shine.
“Everyone is truly united and behind the farmers market,” said Rife.
”Get a vision, get a dream and just go after it,” said Rife, encouraging others to become involved in the community.
“My hope is that people see more of Jesus and less of me,” said Rife of her work in the community.
Outstanding Public Servant — Carl Hysell
Carl Hysell was the 2020 recipient of the Chamber’s Outstanding Public Servant award.
Hysell began his career in public service in 1966 as a sheriff’s deputy, ultimately joining the juvenile court staff in 1973.
In accepting the award, Hysell stated that he enjoyed meeting the kids and families in his 54-year career.
He noted that throughout his career he worked to lead the kids he worked with in the direction he wanted them to go rather than to pull them in that direction.
Hysell added that at least five of the kids he worked with as the juvenile officer have become police officers because they saw the work he was doing and wanted to become an officer as well.
He added there are a lot of caring people and those who are always willing to help out, particularly when it comes to the youth and the elderly.
“I appreciate it and I don’t expect it,” concluded Hysell of receiving the award.
Meigs County EMS and 911 Director Robbie Jacks introduced Hysell during the virtual gala, explaining that he was one of the youth who Hysell had impacted during his career.
Jacks stated that in the late 1980s he ran away from what he described as a troubled home, and after staying on a few friends’ couches until he was told he needed to leave. He stated that late one night he was sitting by the courthouse statue when Hysell pulled in. Hysell took Jacks in his car to the home of Fenton and Jeanie Taylor, arranging for him to stay with them.
“I was a kid with no direction,” said Jacks. “He (Hysell) spent time with me; mentored me; got me a job.”
“I wanted to be like Carl,” said Jacks, who has spent 30 years in law enforcement.
”I am extremely blessed that Carl took the time,” said Jacks of the impact Hysell had on his life.
Community Pillar — Jennifer Sheets
Jennifer Sheets was recognized with the 2020 Meigs County Chamber Community Pillar award.
Farmers Bank President and CEO Paul Reed spoke about Sheets and her leadership in the community, particularly with the Meigs County Community Fund, during the virtual gala.
Reed explained that through her leadership as president of the MCCF she has set in place a pillar for the community for years to come.
The community fund launched the Endow 200 campaign in conjunction with Meigs County’s bicentennial with a goal of raising $600,000 toward future grants for Meigs County.
“To the true community pillar she is, we far surpassed it,” said Reed of the $600,000 goal. With a new goal of $1 million, Reed said that given Sheets’ leadership that goal will be met as well.
According to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, “The Meigs County Community Fund was created in 2011 to increase and advance philanthropic activities in Meigs County. The Meigs County Community Fund works to attract philanthropic resources in the form of gifts, grants, or bequests to benefit the broader community. It helps everyone give back to Meigs County so the community can invest grants to benefit Meigs County residents.”
Gifts to the Meigs County Community Fund are tax deductible and can be made in many ways, including cash, bequests, and life insurance. Donations can be made online by designating the Meigs County Community Fund when donating at appalachianohio.org. To mail your donation, please designate the Meigs County Community Fund and mail to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, PO Box 456, Nelsonville, OH 45764.
Entrepreneur of the Year —Joel Pollard, Ohio River Power Equipment
Joel Pollard of Ohio River Power Equipment was recognized as the 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year during the 2020 Meigs County Chamber Virtual Gala.
In 2018, Pollard purchased the existing small business in Pomeroy which was a Gravely dealer. Pollard explained that they took off with that brand and as things began to grow picked up another line.
Since then Pollard has purchased property on Hiland Road just off State Route 7 in Pomeroy and has added the Cub Cadet brand to his offerings.
Pollard explained that Meigs County is a great place to open a business, noting the support of the community and local officials.
“I could not think of a better place to start a business. The support of the community, customer base, community leaders … from day one the support has been unbelievable,” said Pollard in accepting the award.
“Without my customers I wouldn’t be here. … At the end of the day without our customers we would not be here. They have opportunity to go anywhere and spend their hard earned dollars,” said Pollard.
He concluding by saying that starting your own business is challenging and takes drive, determination and faith.
”Take that leap of faith. If you have the determination and drive set your goals and you can accomplish anything,” said Pollard.
Economic Impact — American Electric Power of Southeast Ohio
American Electric Power of Southeast Ohio was recognized with the 2020 Meigs County Chamber Economic Impact Award for the multi-million dollar service center opened in Meigs County.
The honor for AEP Ohio comes following the construction and opening of its new state-of-the-art Pomeroy Service Center which was built across from Eastern High School.
The facility is the regional service center for the line crews in the area.
“This service center is also a reflection of AEP’s commitment to provide more than energy to our customers. We want to be the best energy provider we can; we want to be the best power company we can; but, we also want to work with municipalities and organizations and businesses to really provide the potential to new economic opportunities,” said AEP Ohio’s Anthony DeBoard.
Derek Teaford, the distribution assistant supervisor for the Pomeroy Branch, explained that the service center employees more than a dozen people from the area, many of whom are active in their local communities, schools and organizations.
Best First Impression — Pomeroy Laundry Company
The Pomeroy Laundry Company and owners Jerod and Bethany Wyatt were the 2020 recipient of the Chamber’s Best First Impression award.
The Wyatts purchased the laundry mat in 2019 and since that time have made many upgrades, updates and changes to the inside and outside of the business and to the services provided. The Pomeroy Laundry Company is located at 226 East Main Street, Pomeroy Ohio 45769.
In the Gala presentation, Jerod Wyatt stated that he was working a midnight shift when he saw on Facebook Marketplace that the laundry mat was for sale. He added that he messaged the owner to set up a meeting regarding the business.
The Wyatts, said Jerod, “decided we did not know anything about a laundry mat or machines but made an offer and bought it that day.”
The Pomeroy Laundry Company is a self serve wash and dry laundry facility, which also offers “wash, dry and fold” service for the local community and businesses. Pick up and delivery is available for this service.
Since purchasing the business, most of the machines have been replaced, the bathroom has been remodeled, the interior and exterior of the building have been given a facelift and many unseen items have been upgraded.
“The laundry mat was probably our best investment. We enjoy coming in every day. We enjoy serving the community and helping out any way we can,” said the Wyatts. “We appreciate that our community and fellow businesses recognize the work we put in.“
Lifetime Business Achievement — Home National Bank
Home National Bank President John Hoback accepted the Lifetime Business Achievement award from the Meigs County Chamber on behalf of the bank and its board of directors.
Home National Bank recently celebrated 110 years in the banking industry. First National Bank and Racine Home Bank were both established in in the village in 1910, merging into Home National Bank in 1967.
Since that time, the bank has expanded to the Syracuse Branch in 1982, its new building in Racine 10 years ago, and the opening of the Middleport branch in 2017.
Hoback stated that since the beginning the bank has strived to meet the needs of the businesses and communities it serves.
”Home National Bank is there to provide a hometown community banking experience for those in Meigs County and the surrounding areas,” said Hoback.” We provide anything that any big bank can do and as we like to say do it with ‘service with a smile.’”
Hoback added that the success of the bank is tied to the success of the communities that it serves. Speaking of the successes in Racine, Hoback noted that the bank is “one piece of that”, with RACO, Mayor Scott Hill and many others working together.
The bank is involved in supporting “hometown experiences” including parades, festivals, family nights at sporting events and much more.
Hoback added that he accepted the award “on behalf of all the people who came before me. I am only a steward in this organization. It goes back to those local business people who wanted to start a bank back in 1910.”
He also thanked the current board of directors and all those who have served on the board over the years, as well as current and past employees.
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Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.