The 89th annual Newcomerstown Chamber of Commerce Banquet last Wednesday evening had awards, good food, door prizes, and -- something new this year -- an Hawaiian luau theme.
More than 85 local businessmen and women, veterans, educators, elected officials and members of the community adorned Hawaiian leis and brightly-colored sunglasses in an effort to make the banquet more relaxed and casual.
Chamber President Jim Friel said the theme for the evening was, "our future's so bright, we have to wear shades."
The theme was even carried out in the menu which featured a hog roast and pineapple cake prepared by Erma Fenton.
Newcomerstown Chamber of Commerce officers include, Friel, president; Marlene Ross, first vice president; Carolyn Woodring, second vice president; Susan Schrickel, secretary; and Gary Chaney, treasurer.
The first award of the evening was presented to Robert Eugene "Gene" Poland. He received the Kelly Ault Memorial Patriotism Award for Veteran of the Year. Poland served in the United States Navy and received several awards during his time serving in World War II. He is well-known throughout the community being the town's barber.
The Newcomers Awards were presented to Eli Miller's Kaffe Haus, The Coffee Stop and Wizard Upholstery.
The Organization of the Year Award was presented to the Roger Dale Lewis Tuscarawas Valley Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 532. The organization has been very active in the community giving scholarships, visiting nursing homes, donating postage for Sonshine Boxes to servicemen serving overseas and building 3,100 wooden crosses for the Vietnam's Traveling Wall that was in Dennison last year.
Craig Collins, Technology director at the Newcomerstown Exempted Village School District, received the chamber's Educator of the Year Award. Collins, a 1968 graduate of Coshocton High School, was the first Technology Coordinator in Tuscarawas County. He was also a football and wrestling coach for more than a decade and served as the president and vice president of the Newcomerstown Teachers' Association. He was also able to receive more than $2 million in grants for the school district.
Melba Guy received the Hometown Hero Award. Guy, who was born and raised in Newcomerstown, has been involved in many talent shows, Newcomerstown Follies and Relay For Life. Most recently, she has served as the coordinator for the Cy Young Days Festival's royalty contests.
Friel presented two Helping Hands Awards to chamber members Marlene Ross and Christy Penland-McMillan.
Chief Netawatwes Awards were presented to American Electric Power for upgrades made to their electric service and maintaining their employees. Riverside Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center received the Chief Netawatwes Award for their renovations and upgrade of their facility to include more rooms and larger therapy/rehabilitation center. Finally, Union Hospital received the third Chief Netawatwes Award for their upgrades and additions made to the hospital in Dover.
Greg Bowman, owner of Bowman's Sportswear, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Bowman was a business teacher in the Newcomerstown school district starting back in 1972. Since 1983, he has owned and operated Bowman's Sportswear. He has also been a 20 year member of the Knights of Columbus where they organize the annual "Meet the Candidates" night in the village. He is also a member of the Newcomerstown Rotary Club and Cy Young Youth League.
Friel presented Schrickel with the Chamber Member of the Year Award for her work as secretary of the chamber and for help in creating the chamber's Web site.
Baker's IGA provided the appetizers and wine samplings prior to the banquet.
The Rev. Martin Addy offered the invocation and benediction.
Door prizes were donated by the following businesses: Center Creek Farms, Medi-Wise Pharmacy, The Coffee Stop, Huntington National Bank, Pearl Valley Cheese, Newcomerstown Massotherapy, Newcomerstown Hampton Inn, River Greens Golf Course, Baker's IGA, Eureka-Orme Hardware, Creekside Vinyl, Spectrum Publications, Hair Craze and Universe Bridal at the Unusual Junction.
"We had a good time," chamber member Janet Chaney said. "I enjoyed it."