Businesses honored for boosting community
HARRIS — After a year off due to the pandemic, the Delta County Chamber of Commerce rung in the new decade and 100 years of the Chamber’s existence with a ’20s-themed return of the organization’s annual dinner.
“Does it seem like 100 years since we were able to get together the last time? It does to me,” said Delta County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vickie Micheau as the night kicked off.
First on the evening’s agenda was Chamber Chairperson Sue Helgemo — who served a two-year term instead of the usual single-year as a result of the pandemic — inducting the next class of Chamber board directors before passing the chairperson’s gavel to Jesse Huff.
“With 100 years in the rearview mirror, we’re looking forward to the future and continued commitment to ensuring a vibrant and prosperous community for future generations to enjoy,” said Huff.
After dinner, the Chamber began giving out a series of awards to distinguished businesses and community members. The first to receive an award was Delta-Schoolcraft ISD Doug Leisenring, who was honored with the Educational Excellence Award, sponsored by the Community Foundation for Delta County.
“If you’re an administrator in schools and you win an award, it’s because you’re surrounded by really good people — great teachers and great principals,” said Leisenring.
The second award, which was the only other award presented to an individual, went to Dennis Moberg. Moberg received the Community Ambassador Award, sponsored by Peninsula Federal Credit Union, for his work with the Marble Arms and military museums at the Delta County Commerce Center.
“I’ve learned more about Marble Arms, the history of the company; it’s impact on Delta County and this country, in the last four years than I have in the last 50, and while that was very rewarding to work on the Marble end of the museum projects, it was much more rewarding, personally, to work on the U.P. military museum. And those of you who haven’t seen it, please stop in and see it. I’ll give you a tour,” said Moberg, who recognized a number of people who helped him bring the Marble Arms exhibit to Delta County and to bring the military museum to fruition.
The first business-focused award, the Business Partner of the Year Award, sponsored by Visit Escanaba, was awarded to the Terrace Bay Hotel.
“Thank you, we’re honored and humbled. Every year our goal is to improve and leave the business and our employees in just a little bit better place than it was before,” said Jarred Drown, Visit Escanaba Board President and owner of the Terrace Bay Hotel.
Next came the Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Upper Peninsula Michigan Works, which was awarded to Steward Manufacturing.
“I know everybody says it, but it is our people. I started this venture about 20 years ago, really, and as a former commander in the military, we always surround ourselves with good people. That’s been my success over the years. It’s not that I’m the smartest guy out there, it’s that I hire the smartest people to work for me and with me,” said Greg Stewart, president of Stewart Manufacturing.
The final portion of the evening was the presentation of the Centennial Awards to four businesses that were founding members of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce: the Daily Press, Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad, Upper Peninsula State Bank, and Verso Paper.
First to be recognized was the Daily Press.
“We’ve had numerous name changes, there’ve been numerous publishers before me, and there’ll be some after me, but we’ll continue to report the daily news in Delta County and bring it to you in a timely and as speedy as we can fashion,” said Daily Press Publisher Corky DeRoeck.
When Mike Logan, vice president mechanical car fleet operations, took to the podium to accept the award for E&LS Railroad, he introduced two tables worth of E&LS employees and thanked them for their role in the company’s success.
“All of our employees are key. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough room to have everybody here today, but I would really like to thank everybody that is here today and thank you for what you do for our company,” he said.
Brad Nurmela, PS&D manager for Verso, accepted the paper mill’s award for its century-worth of contribution to the Chamber and the community.
“It’s a huge honor to the mill, to the company to be a part of this community,” said Nurmela, who said he hoped the mill would continue to be a part of the community for another hundred years.
The final Century Award recipient went to Upper Peninsula State Bank, who was represented by Scott Beaudry, Chief Financial Officer at Upper Peninsula State Bank.
“I will say that our bank management team — our officers, directors, staff — over the years have been privileged to work with the Chamber, especially over the last 100 years, and, I’ll tell you, it’s been a lot of work, a lot of things that have happened over the years, the community has grown, and a lot of that success goes to the fact that the Chamber has worked this hard,” said Beaudry, thanking the Chamber.