Following is an article published in the Harrison Press Dec. 22, 2021. Posted with permission from Register Publications
by Halie Barger, staff reporter
The Greater Harrison Chamber of Commerce is honoring businesses and individuals at its annual awards banquet on Jan. 5.
“We feel it’s important to come together as a business community,” Chamber spokesperson Sara Cullin said. “Businesses large and small come together and share each other’s stories and celebrate the outstanding work that we’re all doing to promote growth and prosperity in the Harrison area.”
Eight awards will recognize members of the community as well as businesses that have stood out this year. Earlier this month, the Chamber announced nominees for Greater Harrison Rising Star of the Year, Emerging Business of the Year and Innovator of the Year.
Greater Harrison Rising Star of the Year Nominees:
• Gennifer Kurtz, Gypsy Wagon Print Co.
• Cierra Withers, Boho Chic Boutique
Greater Harrison Emerging Business of the Year Nominees:
• O’Reilley Floral & Design
• Ahead of the Curve Gifts
Greater Harrison Innovator of the Year Nominees:
• Rumpke Waste & Recycling
• Liberty Tax (Harrison)
Winners of those awards will be announced at the banquet on Jan. 5.
The chamber also announced the winners of the Mary Lou Smith Community service award, Greater Harrison Lifetime Achievement Award, Corporate Community Excellence Award and Non-profit of the year.
The Mary Lou Smith Community Service Award was named in honor of Harrison resident Mary Lou Smith, a former educator who went above and beyond to give back to community in a variety of ways. This year, the winner of the award is Gail Chuck.
“It’s somebody who is very involved in the community to the extent that you would consider above and beyond the call of duty,” Cullin said.
Chuck has been a resident of Harrison for over 44 years and is the chair of the tree board and a 40-year member of the Shaker Farms Garden Club. She volunteers on the beautification of the city of Harrison and its surrounding areas. She also spent a lot of time volunteering for the schools.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Chuck said. “I really appreciate the award. Mary Lou and I are really good friends and I am so happy to win her award.”
Chuck lives in Harrison with her husband Gerry. Together they raised two sons Gregory and Jeffrey. Chuck has enjoyed watching her grandchildren grow up in the Harrison area as well.
The Greater Harrison Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Dr. Lawrence Kluener.
“It’s probably one of the most significant honors that we give out,” Cullin said.
Cullin said the award is for a local leader whose long-term active engagement has had a positive impact on the local economy. They are a leader in their field as well as in the community.
Kluener opened his dental practice in Harrison in 1975, and just retired last year after 45 years. He volunteers a lot of his time to being the “grunt man” for the Shaker Farms Garden Club. He also serves on the board for the historical society and Christ’s Loving Hands.
“I feel honored and humbled,” he said.
Kluener lives in Harrison with his wife Patricia. Together they raised two children and love spending time with their grandchildren.
The Greater Harrison Corporate Community Excellence Award was given to Mattress by Appointment. Cullin said this award is given to a business that embodies community service.
“They positively impact the quality of life in the community not just for their customers but for their employees and neighbors,” Cullin said.
Mattress by Appointment is owned by Rae Eyer, who has always been willing to help people in need.
“The product that they offer in itself is a service to the community,” Cullin said. “It’s a new and unique way to shop for a mattress which is so critical for people.”
Eyer said being a new business in town it’s exciting to be recognized.
“It just means the world to help the community and to grow with the community,” she said.
Mattress by Appointment sells factory direct mattresses. They offer mattresses at 50%-80% less than typical retail store prices. Eyer said it’s a low overhead environment and sets appointments to meet with one family at a time so that the customers save as much money as possible. The company offers easy payment options that she said helps the community get a bed right away without spending the cash in one transaction.
The Greater Harrison Non-profit of the Year was awarded to Pathways to Home, that provides services that meet the needs of families living in poverty and help them find paths to well-being. They’ve been in the Harrison community since 1989.
The award is one of the Chamber’s oldest awards and is reserved for members only.
“The non-profit (award) is for a chamber member who has made a remarkable difference in serving people or causes that matter in the community,” Cullin said.
Pathways to Home Executive Director Beth Smith said, “One of our biggest accomplishments has been our ability to partner with both corporations and entities in Harrison. It has helped us expand our reach and do more for clients. So, recognition from the chamber is really an extension of that … it’s a great honor. We appreciate being a member of the chamber but obviously being recognized as well.”
The Greater Harrison Business of the Year is also one of the oldest awards the chamber gives out. This year the award goes to Gibbons Insurance Agency of American Family. The award recognizes a business that has “made a significant contribution to the overall good of the community and their workforce,” according to the nomination form.
Doris Gibbons has been running her agency since 2004. She has been heavily involved in the Greater Harrison Chamber of Commerce since its inception in 2013.
“I am greatly pleased to be recognized by the Greater Harrison Chamber of Commerce,” Gibbons said. “… Being awarded the business of the year is truly an honor.”
She said she loves the Harrison area.
“It’s a wonderful community with friendly folks and we feel welcome,” she said. “There’s a lot of ways to be involved.”