By DENISE FEDOROW
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The Nappanee Chamber of Commerce presented several awards Thursday during its annual meting.
The guest speaker for the event was Paul Emmick, chief meteorologist at WSBT-TV22. Aside from working at other regional stations in Indianapolis, Louisville and Evansville, Emmick also worked seven years at The Weather Channel based in Atlanta, Ga. Emmick entertained the crowd with stories about weather-related urban legends he said they dealt with on a weekly basis at The Weather Channel.
“Of all the ones I’ve been told I have a 100 percent success rate of never having changed anyone’s mind,” he said.
He also dispelled a couple of weather-related myths, such as tornadoes don’t cross rivers.“They do,” he said.
Emmick said he became interested in meteorology after witnessing the aftermath of a tornado on April 3, 1974.
Educator of the year
Randy Cripe, principal of Nappanee Elementary School, was named Educator of the Year. The award has been yearly since 1992 in honor of the late NorthWood High School teacher Jim Andrews.
Students at the school wrote letters nominating Cripe, saying why they thought he should win. Some of those letters were displayed on a poster board. Some of the reasons cited included, “He let us throw ice cream at him in his pj’s;” “He kissed the pig;” “He’s a good reader” and “He gave me the best teachers.”
When he came forward to accept the award a video of all the students assembled at the school gym jumping up and down and cheering was shown.
“When I came to Wa-Nee I knew what I was getting into,” he said. “What great educators there were and what a blessing it has been for me to work with them.”
Cripe said he attended Wa-Nee schools. “I know the teachers and administrators that I work with and they are all very deserving people so I am very touched,” he said of being named Educator of the Year.
Excellence in business
The recipient of this award is someone who gives back to the community and is involved in the success of the community. This year’s award was presented by Dianne Debelak to Lucinda Gaut, owner of Downtown Design & Consign. Gaut was chosen for her honesty and trustworthiness, her excitement and enthusiasm in re-energizing the new Second Saturday Committee and is also on the Business Improvement District board and the Chamber retail board.
“You have truly made a difference,” said Debelak.
Gaut told those present at the luncheon, “It’s so amazing what God can do when you put your trust in him.”
She said that when she was laid off after many years of working at a local recreational vehicle factory she was told by an employment agency that unless she went back to school she’d never get a decent job again.
She started thinking about what she could do and said she always wanted to be an antiques dealer but had no idea how to go about starting a business. She went to Larry Andrews, who was then executive director of the Chamber, and he put her in touch with a small business adviser who helped her put together a business plan and launch her home décor consignment shop.
She said her father passed away this past fall and he was always supportive and asking about her store and she thanked him for his prayers. She said she trusted in Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
“The Lord took something that was a hardship and turned it into a blessing,” she said.
Harold Hoffer Award
Virgil Yoder, Kountry Wood Products received the Harold Hoffer Award, which is given to outstanding Chamber members. Kitson said Yoder is always asking, “What can I do for the Chamber?”
Kitson said he admires Yoder’s lively spirit and quiet, hardworking ways. He said Yoder’s humility would cause him to say he didn’t deserve the award, but Kitson said he would have to disagree.
Yoder said, “I wasn’t expecting this — thanks for your support. I’m speechless. I’ve been on the board for three years now and have enjoyed it. Jeff’s been a great leader so my thanks go to him and to the community.”
Jan Brown received the Craftsman Award, which is presented to someone who excels in their craft and uses that craft to better the community.
Kitson said, “Whether she’s preaching from the pulpit or acting as former deputy mayor or when on the City Council, she puts her heart and soul in whatever she does.”
Brown said, “Nappanee means more to me than you’ll ever know. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You know where to find me at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, stop by and visit.”
Mayor Larry Thompson presented this award to someone who he said “is a special person who has served the city in more ways than most know about.”
Last week was Wayne Scheumann’s last week of serving the city — he’s retiring after 17 years as the park superintendent and he retired in December from the street superintendent position. Thompson said city workers passed on Wayne’s plastic bucket that he carried around to pick up litter to his replacement and have re-created it in the form of a crystal bucket shaped award.
“Wayne’s been in prayer for this city probably more than any other leader. At 7 a.m. every Friday morning you can find him at City Hall praying for all of us,” Thompson said.
Scheumann thanked the mayor on behalf of himself, his wife and family. Bobbie Wilson was named Citizen of the Year for all her many contributions to the city. Wilson said she was surprised to receive the award and it was the highlight of her life.