Several prestigious awards, including the Record-Herald Citizen of the Year Award, were presented Tuesday at the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce annual membership luncheon.
Dan Fowler, who has been instrumental in organizing the “Fire in the Sky” fireworks show held at the county fairgrounds for the past 18 years, was named this year’s R-H Citizen of the Year. Since 2012, Fowler has served as the chairman of the Fayette Fire in the Sky not-for-profit corporation.
Fowler has done a little of everything for the show, including planning the soundtracks, choreographing, handling the electrical details, etc.
“The goal is to always make the show bigger and better, and I think most of the time we’ve been able to accomplish that,” Fowler said in an interview with the Record-Herald. “The last three years we’ve been using a new firing system, which has really opened up how we conduct the shows.”
To assist with the associated costs, Fowler has organized drive-up donations at the fire department, t-shirt sales and a mailing campaign. In cooperation with Rozzi Fireworks, Fowler also helps with a fireworks show at Kamp Dovetail, a volunteer-run summer camp in Highland County for children with special needs.
Overall, Fowler helps organize about 25 fireworks shows a year.
Fowler also served as the fire chief of the Washington Fire Department for 19 years, and was a full-time firefighter with the department for 37 years.
Currently, Fowler is working to obtain a commercial pilot’s license in order to become a flight instructor. He is also the local emergency planning committee chairman for Fayette County, and serves on the board of directors for a local drug rehab organization.
Also at the luncheon held at The Highland House, the prominent Business Person of the Year Award went to Roger Kirkpatrick of Kirkpatrick Funeral Homes in Washington C.H. and New Holland.
Roger E. Kirkpatrick became the third-generation family member to work as a funeral director and embalmer when he joined the firm in 1969 following his graduation from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. The Kirkpatrick family has been serving the needs of the New Holland area since 1913 and the Washington Court House area since 1948.
Along with his wife, Diana — also a licensed funeral director — they currently own and operate both of the funeral home locations. Kirkpatrick lives and works in Fayette County, and also donates his time to numerous worthy causes.
The Small Business of the Year Award was presented to Tony’s Welding & Fabrication, LLC, located on Robinson Road in Washington C.H. Tony Penwell accepted the award at Tuesday’s luncheon.
Tony’s is locally-owned and operated, and specializes in structural and miscellaneous steel fabrication. It recently celebrated 15 years in business. Penwell has built his business to employ 37 individuals and moved it from his parents’ garage to a large, custom facility.
The Large Business of the Year Award was presented to Walmart Distribution Center #7012, 1400 Old Chillicothe Road in Washington C.H. Accepting for this business was Jeremy Rounsley.
The Walmart DC opened its doors in 2002 and currently employs 760 associates. The center has donated over $2.6 million in food donations — supplying over 1 million meals in 2017. It also donated over $41,000 in monetary donations during 2017.
The center provides a summer and fall festival for its employees and families. DC #7012 is one of 43 grocery distribution centers in the U.S., and Washington C.H. is currently the top performing DC in the network.
Chamber President Julie Bolender presided over the luncheon and made the award presentations. Chamber board chair for the past year, Branen Weade, passed the gavel to the new chair, Vanessa Blevins.
Matt Andrews, a morning update anchor for 97.1 The Fan radio station out of Columbus, a sideline reporter for Ohio State football, and a play-by-play announcer for Ohio State women’s basketball and baseball, was the featured speaker. Andrews is a 1998 Miami Trace High School graduate. Look for more on Andrews’ presentation in an upcoming edition of the Record-Herald.