STEUBENVILLE - The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce honored five businesses and individuals and a departing board member during its 102nd-annual meeting and banquet at the Franciscan University of Steubenville Wednesday evening, featuring NFL legend Mike Ditka.
Receiving a lifetime achievement award was the president and owner of Barium & Chemicals of Steubenville, Eleanor Naylor. Her many professional and charitable achievements and involvement in many programs through the years were noted. She was the first woman president of the chamber in the 1980s and worked to elevate it from the city to a countywide chamber of commerce.
She said though she grew up in Pittsburgh and lived in Willoughby and Euclid, she and her husband, the late Doug Naylor, found home when they came here with their business in 1960.
"We found a community that you can find nowhere else in the United States. The people are compassionate and giving and easy to get along with," she said. "I've had a wonderful life."
The chamber's Business Person of the Year is Christine Hargrave, chief financial officer for the Cattrell Cos., based in Toronto, who was honored for her involvement with many area boards, committees, organizations and charitable causes.
"I'm so proud of this community, the chamber and what we're trying to do," Hargrave said.
Trinity Health System was named company of the year. The county's largest employer was honored for its outreach efforts, screenings, health education, the volunteerism of its work force and its ability to bring quality health care to the area, as well as helping to save the St. John Arena by working to convert it to its present use as a wellness center and gym for the YMCA of East Liverpool.
Fred Brower, the chief executive officer of Trinity, said he found it interesting to honor a community hospital organization when it is the community that makes the hospital.
"We serve as stewards of a valuable community resource," he said. He honored the 1,754 employees "who give every day."
The Bayberry House Bed and Breakfast, which includes two remodeled mansions on North Fourth Street with a third remodeling project under way, was named New Business of the Year.
Scott Dressel, owner, gave up a life in the corporate world, said chamber President Sue Hershey.
"He had a goal to restore a city. We're fortunate that he chose Steubenville to achieve that goal," she said. Dressel also is heading up the effort to save the Grand Theater.
"Hopefully, we're making it a better town for everybody," Dressel said.
Jennifer Cesta of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County received honor as the chamber Ambassador of the Year, for service to the chamber, and Nick Latousakis of Choice Brands of Ohio was honored for his service to the chamber as treasurer and serving eight years on the board of directors, much of which came during financially tough times.
Chamber Chairman Alex Marshall, publisher of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times, said the chamber now has, "No mortgage, no line of credit, no debt and money in the bank."
He recited a litany of projects, development efforts, construction and community revitalization, from paving to planning, from schools to business investments, calling it a "renaissance revolution."
The chamber has undertaken a streetscape project to improve the appearance of one of the city's main entrances, at state Route 7 and Washington Street.
Marshall said part of the drive for the "renaissance revolution" is that for the first time in many years, all the major players in the community are at the table. He said while some grumble the lines between the functions of organizations are blurring, he thinks of it another way.
"It is a sharing of resources and cooperation for the common good of our county. We just don't recognize it because it hasn't happened for a long time," he said.
(Giannamore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)