2013 Muskingum Valley Chamber of Commerce dinner

BEVERLY-The tables were turned on former Muskingum Valley Area Chamber of Commerce chairman Glen Miller during the chamber’s 11th annual banquet in Beverly Thursday night.

Miller was set to present the Founders Award to American Electric Power’s Waterford area plant, when AEP’s Tamera Johnson, a director and treasurer for the chamber, announced Miller was the real recipient of this year’s award.

“This was supposed to go to AEP-you’ve really put one over on me,” an obviously surprised Miller told the crowd assembled in the St. Bernard’s Catholic Church social hall.

Johnson noted the MVACC was facing some difficult times when Miller showed up at her office in 2002.

“This stately-looking gentleman walked in and asked if he could donate to the chamber,” she said, adding that Miller then went on to solicit donations from three local power plants and came back with $1,500 needed to get the chamber out of debt.

“In a short period of time this man restored life to our chamber and has enabled us to continue to thrive,” Johnson said.

Miller, 77, served as chairman of the chamber for 10 years, and just stepped down from that post at the beginning of this year. Local businessman Rick Walters took up the position Jan. 1.

“I’m very blessed, and have had some great directors who’ve helped me along the way,” Miller said. “We started from $1,500 in debt 11 years ago, and today we’re giving out between $10,000 and $12,000 every year to non-profits in this community.”

He added that the chamber would always fight on behalf of business and education in the local community.

After receiving his award, Miller presented the Business of the Year Award to the Lakeside Golf Course, located just south of Beverly on Ohio 60.

He said the business began as the Lakeside Motel built in May, 1952, by original owners Chop and Betty Ullman. The couple later added the 18-hole golf course in 1959.

“The motel was built to provide workers who were building the local power plants with a place to stay,” Miller said. “The original facility was built on farm land, and had 13 rooms.”

He said by 1969 the Ullmans had added more rooms until the motel had a total of 40 units.

The couple sold the motel and golf course to three Coshocton-area businessmen in 1988, and one of those men, Chuck Ungurean, now living in Dublin, Ohio, is now the current owner of the facilities.

The golf course is a popular spot for area golfers, Miller said, noting approximately 23,000 rounds of golf were played there in 2012.

“We appreciate this recognition, but the key to any successful business is having good people who work for you,” said Lakeside Golf Course general manager Dave Combs, who received the award on behalf of the business.

MVACC director Kevin Rings presented the Community Service Award to the Watertown Volunteer Fire Department.

“The department is now in its 57th year of service,” Rings said. “A volunteer fire company was first proposed in 1954 by a group of local community members. And that first year they responded to six house fires.”

He said a Ladies Auxiliary was also formed to help raise funds for the department which has also received a lot of support from the surrounding community.

Rings noted the Watertown VFD purchased a new fire truck in 1965 for $9,600, and their most recent truck purchase a couple of years ago cost $170,000.

“Our volunteer fire departments are good examples of people who don’t just sit back and hope someone else will do the job,” he said.

Watertown Fire Chief Gary Quimby received the award on behalf of the department.

“We’re honored to receive this award from the chamber of commerce,” he said. “And we want you to know that everything we do is to support this community.”

Other awards presented Thursday included $1,000 scholarships each to Fort Frye High School seniors Devin Thieman and Caden Brooker, both 18.

Thieman, daughter of Lisa Bates and Dan Thieman of Beverly, will attend West Liberty College in Bethany, W.Va., majoring in dental hygiene this fall.

Brooker, son of Steve and Pam Brooker of Churchtown, is headed for Ohio University in Athens to work on a degree in mechanical engineering.

Also during Thursday’s banquet, the 2013 Fort Frye High School girls and Warren High boys basketball teams were honored for their outstanding performance this season.

“Both teams went to the Final Four in Ohio this year,” said Walters, who presented plaques to the teams’ coaches.

Blane Maddox, head coach for the Warren boys, noted it’s been 53 years, and the teams have never made it out of the district.

“Everything just seemed to work magically this year,” he said. “It will be tough, but we’re going to try it again next year. And these kids are not only good basketball players, they’re also very good students.”

Fort Frye girls coach Dan Liedtke said the award was very special for his team, too.

“They’ve always known they would have the opportunity if they worked hard enough,” he said. “And these girls did just that.”

Keynote speaker for Thursday’s chamber banquet was Marietta College Petroleum Engineering Professor Bob Chase who provided the chamber members and their guests with an overview and update on the growing shale oil and gas industry in Ohio.