Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce celebrates 100 years

By Mark Hamilton -

COLUMBUS GROVE — Celebrating a century of service to the community, the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce took time Tuesday evening to reflect on a difficult year.

Becky Fruchey, executive director of the chamber, welcomed participants Tuesday evening to the 100th celebration of the Ottawa chamber at the Sycamore Lake Wine Company. She said it says a lot about a community to continue supporting a chamber for 100 years. They are fortunate to have the support of their members past and present who give their time and talents to the community.

“If you would have asked me six months ago if I thought we’d even be able to have our dinner, I wouldn’t have known what to say,” she said.

Following dinner, chamber officials honored the “4 under 40” program, which is designed to capture the spirit of excellence of young professionals from Putnam County. Recipients were selected by a committee of their peers based on excellence in the workplace, professional and personal leadership and philanthropic involvement in Putnam County.

Those awarded with the award include Audrey Beining, who serves as the principal for Ottawa Elementary. She has been in education for more than 15 years and was responsible for obtaining grants to send their educators to workshops for professional development. Beining has always shown great care and dedication to the students and to her staff.

Jason Ball, owner and operator of Tonys, purchased the business in 2002 at the age of 20. Ball started working for the restaurant while in high school and is responsible for giving youth their first job. Ball has been very active in the community and has given much time and money in development of the soccer program in Ottawa.

Terry Stechschulte, owner of Stechschulte Painting, took over the business from his father and continues developing it into an outstanding business. Stechschulte is also very involved in the community and serves as the president of OG Jaycees, helping to raise funds for worthy community projects.

Dr. Tony Morman of Morman Family Chiropractic Center was also honored for his contribution to the community. Morman began his practice in Ottawa, eventually expanding with an emphasis on pediatric chiropractic care. He recently completed a remodeling project which expanded the practice which greatly enhanced the community.

Bockrath & Associates Engineering and Surveying, LLC, received the small business of the year award. Bockrath provides professional engineering and surveying services throughout Northwest and West Central Ohio. In 2014, the company acquired Westhoven Surveying, based in Napoleon, which strengthened its northwest Ohio presence.

Employing civil engineers, surveyors, technical staff and construction administration staff, the company works closely with clients, building a solid relationship based on trust, open communication and working together as a team to achieve goals.

Members also witnessed Jill Askins with the Ottawa Hearing Aid Center installed as a new board member. Askins took the oath in front of Angie Dillon, legal assistant and notary at Knueve, Sahloff and Wildenhaus in Ottawa.

The longevity of local businesses were also honored, starting with new businesses through 186 years with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. Beckman Jewelers clocked in at 133 years, Blanchard Valley Health Systems at 130 years, and the First National Bank at 102 years. UIS Insurance and Investments was at 97 years, and Knueve, Sahloff & Wildenhaus Attorneys at Law at 81 years.

Fruchey thanked the members for supporting the community during a very difficult year.

“Hopefully we will be here for another 100 years — not me, but someone else,” she said with a laugh.

By Mark Hamilton

Reach Mark Hamilton at

Reach Mark Hamilton at

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