Piqua Chamber holds 78th annual dinner


By Sheryl Roadcap

[email protected]

PIQUA — Cheryl Burkhardt was honored on Thursday evening, Jan. 18, with the prestigious Order of George during the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce’s 78th annual dinner at the Piqua Country Club.

Sandy Hemm, presenter of the Order of George award, provided a list of charitable involvement and volunteerism Burkhardt has contributed to Piqua community.

“In order to be a awarded a George, he or she must devote time and dedication to an entire community. To quote one of the nominators, it was said, ‘Promoting and enhancing the quality of life in Piqua comes naturally to this person. After all, isn’t that what the Order of George signifies?’ I agree, and personally know this recipient, who rolls up sleeves and does what it takes. Furthermore, I have seen this person in action: reliable, creative, compassionate. A leader who is a positive team player. …”

The recipient of the award is kept a secret until the very end of the evening. Burkhardt was completely surprised, as was evident by the shocked and tearful expression on her face when Hemm called her name.

“I am just really blown away,” Burkhardt said through tears and a big smile to attendees in the dinning room of the Piqua Country Club. “… I did not grow up here like my children, but I have been Piqua since we stepped in, and in so many ways (Piqua) grabbed us and supported us in so many ways. And to not give back when someone embraces you, as a community and as a family with so many things you have been involved in, I don’t know how you do that. So, it’s just really been super easy (to give back) because my partner in crime, my husband, has supported me and been there with me through so many things. (Piqua) is just a great place to be. …”

Burkhardt told Miami Valley Today she curiously looked around the room, before a name was announced, trying to figure out who the person was to receive the award.

“I was and am just blown away,” Burkhardt said with a smile and a chuckle. “When she (Hemm) got to the third one (listing Burkhardt’s community work). -So I’m looking around the room, like who is that (person to be honored) and she said, ‘this will probably give it away’ (of who the surprise recipient is), and (Hemm) said what she said, I thought, ‘Oh, well, I just did that today.’”

Mark Reedy, outgoing Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce chairperson, provided a summary of the accomplishments for 2023 and introduced the 2023 new members. He then introduced Joe Dickerson to attendees as the new chairman of the board for 2024.

Dickerson, who provided a list of goals for 2024 and some humour when speaking told those gathered he was making some jokes, but in seriousness, “we take your membership dollars very seriously.” He also praised Reedy for his leadership and leaving the Chamber in sound, steady condition, noting that he didn’t want to mess it up.

Brian Alt then handed out the Commercial Beautification awards, along with sponsor Jeff Meyer of Meyer Restoration, which are given to businesses for exterior restoration work or newly constructed structures. The award winners for 2023 includes Ascend Wellness Holdings, 1206 Recker Road; Donatos Pizza Piqua, 415 W. Water St.; Fincel Door Company, 1718 Commerce Drive; Hobart Filler Metals, 8585 Industry Park Drive; Lemon Meringue Floral Boutique, 120 N Main St.; Ohio Cannabis Company, 8866 N. County Road 25A; Plastic Recycling Technology, 9054 N. County Road 25A; P&R Specialty Inc., 1835 High St.; Queen Exhibits, 1707 Commerce Drive, The Birch Tree, 319 N. Main St.; The Lawson Group Keller Williams Home Town Realty, 113 E. High St.; and VSF Investments known as Poco Loco Swim Gear, 325 N. Main St.

Ed Ellis, assistant to the chaplaincy of the Ohio’s Hospice Organization, and former chaplain of Hospice of Miami County gave the Cheryl Stiefel-Francis Award for Non-Profit Excellence to Randi Pearson, Hartzell Fan CFO. Ellis said Pearson was nominated for the award based upon his many years of dedicated service to the Piqua community. He said Pearson’s “contribution of leadership is centered on a humble approach to the multiple organizations he serves.” Ellis then provided Pearson’s service background and listed his numerous roles within various organizations/committees in the Piqua community.

When he stepped up to receive his award, Pearson thanked Michelle Perry, of The Piqua Community Foundation, for nominating him for the award, saying, “It means a lot to me.”

“… It means a lot to just be nominated, and I don’t know if I was the only nominee,” Pearson said, which caused the crowd to laugh. “But I just really think the world of Cheryl, so thank you.”

Next, 2022 Business Person of the Year Kathy Henne, real estate agent/broker and owner of Re/Max Finest Kathy Henne Team, introduced Tom Lillicrap, This & That’s Candy business owner, who was awarded 2023 Business Person of the Year. She praised Lillicrap’s contribution to the city of Piqua saying “he works hard and does good for so many.”

“This person works their business on a daily basis, coordinating schedules, solving workplace issues ideas, figuring out new ideas, yet tries to keep things fun for everyone,” Henne said of Lillicrap. “This person is kind and caring to a fault. This person hires a lot of high school and college students; teaches them how to work for what they want, set goals and achieve them; being a mentor and a friend. Volunteering at church and donating at The Bethany Center. If someone needs money for a good cause, he is always good to rally the troops and make a success of the campaign. You can’t get what you don’t ask for. He is involved in numerous activities to make to make Piqua a great place to work, live and spend time. …”

When accepting the award, Lillicrap thanked the Chamber and a gave a short recap of a recent interaction with someone complaining about the city of Piqua, to which he asked them what they had done for the city, and then told them anytime he has invested in the city of Piqua, he always received back 100 fold in return.

“I’m proud to be in the city and continue to keep opening business, I hope. Again, I thank everybody here for the support,” Lillicrap said.

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