HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — It was a night of celebration for area business, industry, community, social service and education leaders as Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County hosted its annual Best of County Awards dinner at Spire Institute.

Eight awards were presented in a variety of categories celebrating achievements during the last year and throughout the lives of people like Steve Sargent, who received the President’s Award for his commitment to the homeless, youth and others throughout Ashtabula County.

Sargent has been the executive director of Samaritan House, the only homeless shelter in Ashtabula County since 1990. He is also an associate minister at Hiawatha Church of God in Christ; vice chairman of the Ashtabula Metropolitan Housing Authority Board of Commissioners and a former president of the Ashtabula Kiwanis Club to name a few.

Sargent thanked Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County for the award and detailed his family history in Ashtabula County and what the community means to him.

He said his parents moved here in 1953, and they came from states where picking cotton by the pound was the only alternative, he said.

“My parents found a better way of life in Ashtabula,” Sargent said. “This is where we found hope. My family was able to find dreams.”

Sargent also said

the community gets a lot of bad press

for some of the bad things that happen, but there is much to be proud of in Ashtabula County.

“Hidden under that negativity is some of the greatest people,” he said.

Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County Executive Director Greg Myers said the awards event is important.

“I think it is a great way to bring the community together and celebrate our successes,” he said.

Myers said collaboration between business, government, education and social service

leaders is important for the future economic growth of Ashtabula County. He said

many collaborations

are already in place,

including a group of leaders close to completing plans for a natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania through Conneaut to North Kingsville.

“Together we can create the conditions for Ashtabula County success,” Myers said.

One of the most important needs is collaboration between industry and area high schools. He said it is crucial to create a new path to success, which might mean graduates stay in Ashtabula County and receive training here without going away to college.

Other award

winners

• Lisa and Jeff Richmond accepted the George H. Kaull Award for Entrepreneurship for their work in creating Richmond Transportation from scratch.

Lisa Richmond joked that living in their parents’ basement might have been the only option if the business plan was unsuccessful. Instead, the company has grown from one van and one trolley to a large company meeting many area transportation needs.

• Paul Carpenter, president of the board for Ashtabula County Metroparks, and executive director Larry Frimerman, accepted the Community Vitality Award for their vision in growing the park system.

Carpenter said the parks open to the public have grown from thee to eight in the last several years with a ninth park to open in October. He said the park land open to the public has increased from 385 acres to 1,100.

“We are proud to be a part of the economic vitality of this county,” Carpenter said.

Frimerman also thanked the voters for passing a levy to help make the parks a reality.

• A collaborative effort between area social service, government and school leaders won the Workforce Innovation Award for a plan in process that would help meet the needs of Ashtabula Area City Schools students through a variety of services provided directly in the schools.

“It is our dream to bring many helping hands together,” said April Tapper, who served on the committee working on the plan with State Rep. John Patterson; Community Counseling Center Executive Director Paul Bolino; Community Action’s Judith Barris and Carmen Kuula; as well as Ashtabula Area City Schools Superintendent Mark Potts.

• Three area companies received Manufacturing Business Growth and Innovation Awards for their expansion and leadership programs.

Gabriel Performance Products, The Arthur Louis Steel Company and Penco Tool were all honored for efforts to grow their companies to improve the community.

Gabriel Performance’s Tyce Workman said he is excited about the growth of the company from one plant in Ashtabula County to a multi-facility company with a worldwide presence.

Arthur Louis Steel Company President J.T. Kanicki credited his family for helping make the business grow.

Steve Pendleton, of Penco Tool, said the company is fortunate to have such a dedicated group of employees.

• Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Board Executive Director Stephanie Siegel won the Young Economic Development Leader award for her innovative marketing campaigns that highlight the many positive options in Ashtabula County.

She credited her staff and the many tourism-related businesses in the area.

“If I didn’t have the stories I wouldn’t have anything to say,” Siegel said.

 

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