Businesses were honored, individuals were recognized and a major announcement was made concerning the future of Newcomerstown and the possible Cy Young Museum during the 90th annual Newcomerstown Chamber of Commerce banquet last Wednesday.

More than 80 guests were treated to a casino theme with the slogan of "We're betting on Newcomerstown."

President Jim Friel served as emcee for the banquet and made special acknowledgment as to how active and busy the Newcomerstown Chamber of Commerce has been this past year. For example, he said they are currently planning the 200th bicentennial celebration of the town which is in 2014.

In all, the chamber presented 16 awards at the banquet and they are:

* The Kelly Ault Memorial Patriotism Award for "Veteran of the Year" was presented to Harry Kenney. Kenney graduated from high school, got married and joined the U.S. Army all in 1960. He retired from the military in 2008 after 35 years of service. Most recently, he worked in Georgia helping wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan receive assistance in the United States. He has been married for over 50 years, has three children and seven grandchildren, and loves to play basketball.

* Newcomer Awards (for opening new businesses in Newcomerstown) were presented to J&O Sportswear (formerly Bowman's Sportswear), Hair Craze, Bringing Up Baby and Yellow Butterfly Winery.

* Chief Netawatwes Awards were presented to businesses who have made significant improvements to their locations in the past year and they are: 31 Inc., Smoker Friendly Party Center and Advantage Tax Group.

31 Inc. made the first move into the Newcomerstown Industrial Park many years ago after growth made them relocate. They manufacture tires and valve stems. Recently, they made renovations to several locations inside their facility. In all, they have 86 local employees in the Newcomerstown location and 16 employees all over the United States.

Smoker Friendly Party Center opened more than three years ago in Newcomerstown, originally located next to Terry's Pizza Shoppe. They decided to move and re-open just down the street in a former restaurant. They made $280,000 worth of renovations which included the addition of a drive-thru window. They have three employees and look to hire more.

Advantage Tax Group purchased the former Mayhew's Tax Service in 2009. They have eight locations in three counties, and provide tax service to rural areas. They wanted to expand from its location on Canal Street and purchased property on Bridge Street with more parking and easier access for their customers.

* The Community Improvement Award went to the Newcomerstown Athletic Council for their constant pursuit of excellence. They have been working on numerous community service projects, as well as helping senior citizens with yard work. Trojan Pride pins are presented to those student-athletes who provide outstanding service to their community.

* The Organization of the Year Award was presented to the Newcomerstown Historical Society for bringing tourism to the village. They are currently operating the Temperance Tavern Museum and Olde Main Street Museum. However, the organization is all volunteers, and more are always needed and welcome.

* The Educator of the Year Award was presented to Bev Darr, kindergarten teacher at the East Elementary School. Darr was hired by the district in 1984. It has been her lifelong dream to be a teacher. She always has the kids' interests at heart and wants to instill a love of reading in her children. In 1998, she achieved her National Board Certification -- the only teacher in the district to do so. She plans to retire next year but wants to return as a volunteer or a substitute teacher.

* The Hometown Hero Award was presented to Heather Stein-Wells. She knew she wanted to be a fireman (or firewoman) at the young age of 12. She attended Kent State and Stark Tech in emergency medicine. However, instead of becoming a doctor, she became a paramedic on the fire department. She's been a paramedic since 1996 and has "touched a lot of people's hearts" over the years.

* The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Mary Watts. She is truly a "hometown girl." She lives in the same house she was born in. In 1974, she married the late Clarence "Pappy" Watts and has two sons. She currently serves as president of the Newcomerstown Historical Society, teaches Sunday School, been a member of the Newcomerstown Athletic Boosters and has delivered meals for Meals on Wheels.

* Helping Hands Awards were presented to chamber members Niki Wolfe of the Newcomerstown News and Roger Seitz of Baker's IGA.

* Chamber Member of the Year Award was presented to Christy McMillan.

Following the presentation of awards, Treasurer Gary Chaney made an announcement on behalf of the Cy Young Days Festival Committee by stating that the Cy Young Museum Complex has been officially incorporated by the State of Ohio. He said this is a monumental step towards preserving the past, present and future of baseball and Cy Young's history in Newcomerstown. He said to keep looking for more information regarding this announcement.

Baker's IGA provided the appetizers, wine samplings and dessert at the banquet. The meal was catered by Dick's Place. Door prizes were donated by area businesses.

The Rev. Kenneth Hacker offered the invocation and benediction.

The Newcomerstown Chamber of Commerce officers are: Friel, president; Becki Allen, first vice president; Pat Cadle, second vice president; Chaney, treasurer; and McMillan, secretary.

The chamber meets the third Monday of each month at April's Country Kitch'n in Newcomerstown at noon. New members are always welcome.