By Sarah Einselen Pharos-Tribune
---- — With a little impromptu Motown flair, members of Civic Players of Logansport thanked the Logansport-Cass County Chamber of Commerce for an award — by singing.
“We want to stop and thank you chamber,” sang the group, echoing the tune of Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You)” just after receiving the chamber’s 2013 Quality of Life award.
Representatives of the chamber doled out the organization’s annual awards at a banquet Friday night, recognizing two business leaders and two businesses, as well as Civic Players, for contributions toward the area’s economic well-being.
“Quality of life is important in any economic development,” said Ralph Anderson, president of Civic Players. “And for a chamber of commerce, a more business-oriented organization, to recognize the performing arts, is very special.”
Chamber representatives also announced that board member Anthony Carmichael would be taking over as president of the chamber board, succeeding Chris Armstrong.
Logansport Community Schools Superintendent Michele Starkey received the group’s Businesswoman of the Year award.
Armstrong, the award’s 2010 recipient, listed off the reasons Starkey had been nominated — her work with the Cass County United Way and Reading Railroad, as well as membership on the Indiana University-Kokomo advisory board and in the Logansport Rotary Club.
“She’s very passionate about what she does,” Armstrong added, noting that in her 21 years in the Logansport schools, Starkey had started as a teacher and moved through the administrative ranks to take on the superintendent’s role in late 2010.
Starkey had received notice of the award a few weeks ago.
“I was shocked,” she recalled. “Getting awards is not something I ever think about ... I love doing what I do.”
She added that the award “is a reflection of the great people we have at the school corporation and all the great things going on.”
Starkey was the second recipient in a row to head up a nonprofit organization. Last year, United Way of Cass County Director Joyce Mayhill was recognized.
This year’s recipient of the chamber’s Businessman of the Year trophy, Dr. Herb Price, did not attend the dinner, but recorded a video explaining his absence and thanking the chamber members for nominating him.
Price, a local optometrist, has taken an active role in Logansport for 42 years, according to Carmichael, and is the longest-serving Logansport Rotary member — clocking in 41 years.
A. Raymond, a local fastener manufacturer, got the chamber’s Large Business of the Year plaque. Plant manager Keith Holms said as he accepted the award that it had been a surprise for the plant.
“The people at the plant — the managers, my staff, all the employees — have really come together over the last year and a half,” said Holms, to make the improvements that spurred the company’s nomination. “I’m very, very pleased on behalf of the plant ... This award really goes to them.”
Holms anticipated formally presenting the award to plant employees at the facility’s quarterly meeting at the end of the year.
The chamber’s Small Business of the Year award went to Kuns Bakery, Bulk Foods and Deli, which over the last year and a half more than doubled its size.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said manager Joanna Kuns, when she found out the store would be receiving the award. “I mean, I know that we get the compliments, but I didn’t know that people see us as someone to nominate as business of the year.”
Chamber members submitted a record number of nominations — 15, all told — this year, according to chamber administrative assistant Teresa Zimmerman.
Sarah Einselen is news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151. Twitter: @PharosSME