OTTAWA — Members of the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce and their families gathered at American Legion Post 63 for the 97th annual membership appreciation dinner Thursday.
During the event four local women received 4 under 40 awards and two local businesses were awarded for being the best of 2017.
Ashley Baumgartner, Kristen Gerding-Heffner, Alison Siefker and Brianna Cox received awards for the 4 under 40, a local award recognizing dedicated and hard working young men and women in local businesses. Recipients are nominated by Ottawa residents and the winners are chosen from the nominees. Each winner receives a plaque and a letter of commendation for the secretary of state.
“It was an honor, that’s for sure,” said Gerding-Heffner, who was nominated by two people; Julie Haningfort who owns Touches from the Heart in Glandorf and Audrey Beining, principal of Ottawa Elementary.
Gerding-Heffner works as a mental health counselor at Ottawa Elementary which is one of the ways she knows Beining, she said. She said Beining’s daughter is a dancer at The Performing Arts Center of Putnam County. Gerding-Heffner also owns Dance Boutique, a dance equipment store in Ottawa.
“It’s an honor to be nominated by someone like her,” she said.
Gerding-Heffner was a member of the committee ex-chamber director Amy Sealts created to help organize the 4 under 40 award which makes winning the award surreal, she said.
Baumgartner is the director and a teacher at Trinity Preschool. She has been with the preschool for five years and in the child development field for 11 years, she said. She was nominated by her mother, Bernice Ruhe.
“I think it’s pretty awesome,” Baumgartner said. “It’s a pretty honorable award. It’s a great accomplishment not only for my career but for my preschool too.”
Trinity Preschool donated over $35,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in honor of the Warniment children, who died of cancer, she said.
Siefker is a teacher at SS. Peter & Paul School. She is also a Putnam County Children’s Theater Board member, a Sunday school teacher and director of vacation Bible school. She was nominated by Susan Kuhlman.
Cox is a customer service representative at The Meadows of Ottawa. She also raises money for local charities and participates in monthly events at the Ottawa Senior Center. She was nominated by Carrie Vorst.
The event opened with Eric “The Big Kahuna” Siewert, from 106.3 The Fox, introducing Tom Giesken who gave the invocation to begin the event. Giesken asked that the chambers members keep in mind everything they have to be thankful for living in Putnam County; good people, work ethic and rich agriculture.
Cathy Burgei’s, director of the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce, son, Jeff Burgei, provided background music while attendees ate dinner.
Henry’s Restaurant was awarded the Large Business of the Year award and Beckman Jewelers was awarded the Small Business of the Year award. The owners received plaques, letters of commendation from the secretary of state and a letter of proclamation from Gov. Kasich’s Office thanking them for their dedication and service to their community.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362