KENT: The Kent Area Chamber of Commerce and city of Kent handed out their annual Tree City Awards at a ceremony held Thursday night at Laziza Restaurant.
The sold-out event was a joint presentation of the city and chamber, and five local businesses and individuals were recognized at the event. Following a silent auction that included a collection of gifts baskets and other items, a cocktail hour and dinner, the awards were presented.
Paul Organ, chamber president, spoke about the city's economic progress and Dan Smith, director of economic development, was recognized for his efforts to promote growth, including the city's recent receipt of the Ohio Economic Development Association’s 2012 Best Project of the Year award for the ongoing downtown revitalization project.
Three organizations received an IMMY award, which is presented to businesses or individuals in the greater Kent area that excel in support of economic retention, reinvestment and the development of new facilities. This year's IMMY winners were Baked in the Village Café, Four Seasons Trophies and the Kent Historical Society.
The Small Business Person of the Year award, for companies with 30 or fewer employees, went to Perfect Construction owner William Perfect, whose company specializes in home remodeling and other home repair services. The company has been a part of the Kent business community since 1978.
The third of the night's big award categories was the W.W. Reed Medal of Public Service, given in honor of Kent native William W. Reed, who was born in the city in 1867, educated in the city's school system and worked in the dental and insurance industries. He also served as the city's postmaster during his professional career.
The medal's criteria stipulate that it be awarded to " individuals, institutions, or organizations whose community service has resulted in the advancement of the common good, promotion of public welfare, or stimulation of public service." According to the chamber's website, it is the highest honor the group awards.
This year's W.W. Reed winner was Paul Braden, owner of Woodsy’s Music. Woodsy's was founded in 1972, and Braden has volunteered with numerous organizations over the past four decades, including the Kent Heritage Festival, the Standing Rock Cultural Arts Center and Kent Roosevelt High School athletics.
In addition to serving as an occasion to recognize the chamber's award recipients and gather local business leaders to reflect on the business year as it comes to a close, the event was also a chance to provide a helping handy to needy Kent-area families. Attendees were encouraged to bring gift cards in increments of $15 to be given to Kent Social Services for distribution to those in need of financial assistance for the holidays.