On the evening of November 18th, over 100 people came out to Pickwick Place to
celebrate the Bucyrus Area Chamber of Commerce and its 96th Annual Dinner and
Awards Banquet. This serves as the organization’s annual member meeting. The
evening consisted of networking time, a charcuterie board judging contest, a picnic
basket dinner and soup buffet, a silent auction, reverse raffle and a 50/50 drawing. This
year’s sponsors were Park National Bank, Honey Creek Wind and Firelands Federal
Credit Union.
The first of this year’s award recipients were John Kennedy and Dr. Donald Wenner,
both past recipients of the Citizen of the Year award, as Posthumous Citizens, Bill Kahle
and Becky Lutz as Volunteers of the Year, and Nate Smith as Young Professional of

John and Doc were both Kiwanians and pillars of our community. Their legacy will
continue to make a better Bucyrus for decades to come. Bill Kahle gave a touching
tribute speech about his friends, John and Doc, before being surprised with his own
award. Bill and Becky, both Kiwanians were honored for their community service. Bill
was chairman of the committee for the “street of flags.” He also volunteers in a soup
kitchen, delivers meals on wheels, rings bells for the Salvation Army and is involved
with the Knights of Columbus and American legion. Becky has been instrumental in
coordinating every parade in Bucyrus for the last five years. She helps with an
afterschool program and advocates for children and adults with disabilities. She flies
under the radar and likes to make others look good while not taking any credit for
herself. Nate Smith has managed the pro shop at the Golf Club of Bucyrus for the last 8
years. He started the Junior Golf League by himself and has increased sales in many

“Nate’s passion for the Bucyrus Golf Club is unmatched. He is constantly thinking of
how he can help the course improve and continue to be a destination that golfers want
to come to. It is a blessing to have an employee take an ownership role in a business
the way Nate has over the last few years.”
Next the staff of the BACC surprised Chamber director, Jessie Furner with a Boss of the
Year award.

“I was touched that my office girls gave me this award. I am so fortunate to have the
staff that I do. We work hard, we laugh, we cry, and we execute, all for the betterment of
the local business and greater Bucyrus community. Every employee not only cares for
their work, but for each other. The warmth we share makes coming into work,
sometimes 7 days a week, enjoyable. We are a rockstar team, and it’s thanks to Deb
Cameron (office manager), Lexi Lyons (administrative assistant), Laura Weir (digital
consultant) and Hailey Ameling (marketing) that the Chamber has grown and will
continue to thrive.”

Veronica Hildreth, Chamber Board Vice President, gave a report updating attendees on
recent successes and future initiatives, citing that the BACC has added 82 new
members since December of 2019.

The next award was given to Alexa Kamenik and ARK Realty. Alexa was honored as
Entrepreneur of the Year. She became a Realtor in 2014 at 21 years old, and just 2
years later passed her Broker’s exam. ARK Realty was born. For 5 years, ARK Realty
has been providing excellent customer service to buyers and sellers in Crawford and
Ashland counites and beyond.

Long overdue, Baker’s Pizza was recognized as Business of the Year. Opening in 1998,
Baker’s has graced the homes and stomachs of hundreds of thousands of people and
created jobs for the Bucyrus area. People come from all over Ohio and beyond for
Baker’s. Owners Breck Baker and Connie Smith give credit to their loyal employees and

“Bakers deserves an award just for that baked potato pizza,” claimed Furner. “I worked
at Baker’s as a delivery driver in the first few years of operation. Breck was an incredible
boss. He valued my opinion and showed me respect, even though I was 20 years old.
He is a natural leader and great supporter of the Chamber, as well as many children’s
and other charities.”

Amanda Sheets, former director of the North Central State College Success Center,
came to the stage to give the Success Center their award for Organization of the Year.
NCSCSC is the only higher education facility in Crawford County. They have an
expedited LPN program, where students can earn their license in under a year. They
offer scholarships and encourage anyone to stop in and talk about how their educational
goals can be achieved.

Another long overdue award was presented to the Bucyrus Public Library also as
organization of the year. For over 100 years, BPL has enhanced and enriched Bucyrus
area literacy efforts. They were the first library in the State to distribute COVID-19 tests.
While offering just under 3000 COVID tests to our area, the library came up with
creative was to connect with their customers. To go art projects and curbside service
are just a tiny sample of what the library offered during the stay-at-home order. Their
youth programming is as extensive as it is diverse. Between anime club, Dungeons &
Dragons club, movie and board game nights, there is always something going on at the
library. Stephanie Buchanan and Erin Rhodes, Director and Assistant Director
graciously accepted their well-deserved award.

Kelli Patterson, Rhonda Rowland and Randy Fischer were onsite representing not only
their member businesses, but also the Bucyrus Bicentennial Committee. The B2
Committee is hosting Religion Heritage Day and the NYE Gala. Kelli and Rhonda spoke
on legacy projects planned to enhance Bucyrus for another 200 years.

The evening was rounded off with the unveiling of “Come Home to Bucyrus,
Bicentennial Edition” the Bucyrus Area Chamber’s new 60-page publication.
“Not realizing what an undertaking it was, we decided to completely revamp the
community guide from previous versions. We worked incredibly hard on this magazine,
and what you will find is a fresh, forward-thinking publication that welcomes people to
come visit our area, fall in love with the natural beauty and close-knit community and put
down roots here,” says Furner. “It was a great way to close the night. I can’t wait to see
these books all over the place. If you see one, snag it up and take a peek. Then share it
with a friend from out of town.”

The next Chamber event is Candlelight Christmas on December 2nd from 5-8. FCBank
will sponsor an ice-skating rink on the square, and Wise Funeral will provide Victorian
carriage rides through the town. Downtown businesses will offer refreshments and stay
open late for holiday shoppers. Area Churches will be set up in the Schine’s Art Park,
and the Bucyrus Browns Backers Club is sponsoring a “Poker Walk” to raise money for
the club and support downtown businesses. The BACC welcomes anyone to bundle up
and enjoy Candlelight Christmas or any of their events. For more information, check out
bucyrusohio.com or visit the Bucyrus Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.