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Chamber honors accomplishments

It was a time for Lawrence County to give itself a pat on the back as the area’s movers and shakers were honored by their peers.

Accolades abounded during the 2009 Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner hosted Thursday evening at Ohio University Southern’s campus.

Receiving Business of the Year was McGinnis Inc. of South Point, owned by Doug McGinnis. This full-service barge repair and painting company has continued to expand along the Ohio River with an automated cleaning service and plans to extend its barge building operation.

McGinnis called the expansions so far a strong foundation for his operation.

“Now we will build on it,” he told the audience, “by doing the things to make Lawrence County proud of us.”

Charles “Charlie” Forth, founder and owner of FoodFair Markets chain in West Virginia and Ohio, was named business entrepreneur of the year. Forth’s company operates supermarkets in the southern part of the state with three in Lawrence County and the fourth in Meigs County.

Chamber Vice President Doug Korstanje gave out the award to Forth saying “when you spend money at a Food Fair, your money will remain in the community. Charlie has an intense interest in the communities where his businesses are located.”

In receiving the honor Forth, who called himself a “farmer’s boy,” thanked “the Lawrence County people as a whole that have allowed me to moved forward.”

Doug Cade of E.L. Robinson Engineering received the George Patterson Person of the Year award because in the words of Tyler Walters of the Chamber, Cade “exemplifies a desire and a willingness to make Lawrence County a better place.”

Citing Cade’s work for the county from engineering projects to volunteering with Operation TLC, Friends of Ironton and Ironton Little League, Walters said “all he does is he works hard. He is dedicated to Lawrence County youth.”

This year’s Community Service Volunteer of the Year was Herb Nida. Nida is a longtime resident of Chesapeake, past president of the Chesapeake-Proctorville-Rome Lions Club, on the Chesapeake School District’s strategic plan and on the newly created Chesapeake School Foundation.

“I am blessed to live in a country where we can do this,” Nida told the crowd. “Lawrence County has been the best home.”

Keynote speaker was Jim Cantrell of Marathon Petroleum who detailed the Catlettsburg refinery operation and how it considers itself a partner in the progress of the Tri-State.

“We view the rivers as connectors, not as dividers,” he said.

The refinery located on the Big Sandy River employs 1,400 and produces 6.3 million gallons of gasoline and 3 million gallons of diesel fuel daily.

“We have the largest fleet of boats and barges on the inland waterways,” Cantrell said about the Marine Transportation Department downstream from the refinery on the Ohio River.

“The people in this area are very generous with their time, talent and money to improve this area,” he said.

Stephanie Burcham was installed as president of the chamber taking over from Tyler Walters, who remains on the chamber’s board.

A native of Chesapeake, Burcham is director of Ohio University Southern’s Proctorville Center.

“I will do my best to grow and improve the services the Chamber provides,” she said. “I know we can make a difference.”

South Point Mayor Bill Gaskin was honored for his years of service and the sign for a bridge named in his honor was unveiled.