The Chamber Member of the Year Award was presented to Sandy Davis, who has worked tirelessly for the chamber and its events, always a familiar face and a source of tremendous energy and creativity. She has also worked as a marketing representative for more than one chamber member, and is now employed at Glockner Chevrolet-Oldsmobile-Cadillac. She has been an outstanding role model for chamber members in her selfless commitment to helping the organization’s efforts.
Robert (“Bob”) Morton was presented the Distinguished Citizen of the Year honor, for his ongoing work as the president of Portsmouth Murals, Inc., the local volunteer group that is carrying on the duties of maintaining, promoting and expanding the more-than 2,000 feet of breathtaking murals on the city’s flood wall that attract thousands of tourists (and their spending money) every year. In true Bob Morton fashion, he took a moment to tell those in attendance about the pioneering efforts of the late Dr. Louis Chaboudy, who, with his wife Ava and several other local forward thinkers, launched the project that has meant so much to our community through the talents of world-famous mural artist Robert Dafford.
Three local long-time contributors to charitable projects and volunteerism in the community received special recognition with the second annual Making A Difference awards. Darlene Moore, a volunteer in Scioto County who has spent the past nine years giving detailed, engaging tours of the flood wall murals to hundreds of visitors, was given special recognition. Driving 50 miles round-trip for each tour she provides, Darlene takes copious notes about the groups and visitors she greets and provides a delightful experience for first-time and repeat mural tourists alike. Dr. George Pettit, whose work in bringing charity care to the poor in our region has saved countless lives, was honored. Dr. Clyde Fenton, who has consistently contributed his time and talents to many chamber events and charities over the years, was recognized. His band, Doc Rock and the Remedies, was named the official band of the Tour of the Scioto River Valley. The Portsmouth Area Convention and Visitors Bureau also gave special recognition to Moore, Fenton and Davis.
Through the regional “Pitch Your Plan” project organized by The Ohio State University South Centers Business Development Network and other area sponsors, local forward thinkers were acknowledged for their business-oriented ideas. Recognized among the regional competition participants were area residents Francesca Hartop of Yost Engineering for robotic motion sensors; Kelley Alexander for emergency contact information on vehicle windshields; Steven Do of Z Collections for expansion of his line of shoes, purses and accessories; and Brian Fancher for his proposal to launch a green-energy welding business. Hartop won a $5,000 second-place prize in the invention/new technology category of the regional competition.
The chamber also recognized the graduates of this year’s “Leadership Portsmouth” class, in which area businesses sponsor representatives to come together, study and learn about the local community and its many organizations, and network for future growth.
The guest speaker for the evening was Gary Kitchen, a Portsmouth area native who has been commercially successful over the past 30 years working in the furniture industry, and growing the Office Furniture, USA franchise from nine to 160 outlets. He was named CEO of Chordus, the parent company of Office Furniture. Now retired, he still serves on their board. He gave some poignant remarks and made it explicitly clear that we are now experiencing the greatest shift in our economy, our culture, our way of life, since the expansion of the rail industry during the westward movement in American history that nurtured and spurred the huge industrial/commercial centers of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and others.
We couldn’t agree more with what Kitchen had to say. He finished up by pointing out that we, here in Portsmouth, are better positioned than some folks because we have already been economically challenged, and we do have resources here that many communities might envy. He also pointed out that the most sought-after jobs of 2010 were not even heard of in 2004, and that these will be telecommuter jobs where the person can live anywhere.
So our job, if we want to see our community survive for the sakes of ourselves and our future generations, is to grab onto that opportunity with both hands, think it through, make the tough choices and improve our town and the area, and make it attractive for these prospective residents and tech-oriented future workforce members.
The chamber acknowledged a fantastic group of forward thinkers at this event. We all can take a valuable lesson from their energy, their loyalty, their pride in our area, their optimism, and THEIR forward thinking!