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McSweeney to be honored as Business of the Year

The business stars of Lawrence County will come out to shine, Thursday, Oct. 27 at the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner to be held at Ohio University Southern in Ironton. Each year the prestigious awards are handed out to top businesses and professionals in five separate categories.

The Business of the Year award for 2011 will be presented to McSweeney’s Incorporated of South Point. The firm has been a stalwart in central Lawrence County for more than 44 years.

Skillful, steady, and strong are the adjectives that describe this flourishing business that caters primarily to the coal mine, railroad and road construction industries.

The firm dabbles in other categories as well including the manufacture of replacement snow plow blades. Larry McSweeney started the company back in 1967 and still has the position of President. Larry’s son Joe is Chief Executive Officer and heads up production and sales. Larry’s daughter Sandra Blackburn is Vice President and Office Manager.

Right now McSweeney’s is one of only two companies that manufactures forge drill steel. This product is used only in the mining industry. The firm employs 130 workers.

Winning The George Patterson Business Person of the Year Award are co-recipients Sharon Hartwig and Charles Kunkle, operators of Close to Home III assisted living in Ironton.

This husband/wife team are the managing partners of a showplace for elderly care in western Lawrence County.

The 100 year old building was originally a school.

The 32 unit building had been vacant for years before the project began in 2009. Kunkle specializes in the areas of real estate development, planning, marketing and financing of the health care industry.

Hartwig’s area of expertise lies with the clinical, marketing and day to day operation of the company.

Business Entrepreneur of the year goes to Dr. Mike Dyer, owner of the Proctorville Animal Clinic. Dr. Dyer is a native of Huntington, W.Va., graduating from Marshall University in 1986. He received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree from the Ohio State University in 1993.

Dr. Dyer then returned to the Tri-State area and entered private practice with Advanced Veterinary Services of Ashland, Ky., Flatwoods, Ky. and Proctorville, Ohio. He expanded the large animal veterinary services component with the development of the Equine Medical Center of Chesapeake, Ohio in 1998.

A major expansion of Dr. Dyer’s Proctorville location is on-going with construction currently underway. The new Proctorville Animal Clinic will be twice the capacity of the current location and will include the latest technological advancements in the caring for animals. The clinic will employ 35 people.

Dr. Dyer is president of the Chesapeake Board of Education having served there since 2008. He resides on a farm in Getaway with his wife Vallery and two children, Naaman and Ann-Michal.

Grayson Thornton is the recipient of the Public Servant of the Year Award through his work with the Symmes Creek Restoration Project.

Grayson’s love for the river, creeks and wildlife began in 1947 when his family moved to Proctorville. In 1990 he bought a 76 acre farm near Waterloo and Symmes Creek.

Through his efforts The Symmes Creek Restoration Committee has been committed to cleanliness along the 60 miles of waterway.

He has been chairman of the group since 2000. This year alone, the committee along with its many partner organizations has cleared more than 18 major log jams from the creek.

With accomplishments of this magnitude it takes a strong, dedicated, and persistent leader. Grayson is married to the Rev. Jan Thornton and together they have four children. Grayson reminds everyone of the committee motto. “Keep Symmes Creek Clean—Pack it in, Pack it Out.”

And the Young Professional of the Year is being handed to Jimmy Lemon for his work with the Secret Santa project. Jimmy is a 2005 Dawson Bryant Graduate and has received a bachelor’s degree in pastoral studies from Cedarville University.

He is taking classes at Ohio University Southern toward a specialized studies degree with concentrations in graphic design and communication.

Jimmy is on staff full time at Cross Community Church in South Point. Jimmy has been an active member of The Young Professionals and is working on the Secret Santa Project for the third year.

This year’s dinner features Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor as keynote speaker. The festivities begin at 6p.m. with a reception and dinner follows at 6:30 p.m.

Also on hand for the evening will be Susan King Taylor who will sing The National Anthem. The dinner will be in the Riffe Building, Mains Rotunda on the OUS Ironton Campus. individual tickets may be purchased for $50.