Friday, February 23rd, 2007
By Betty Lawrence
Chamber honors citizens for service
Kip Wright was honored as the 2006 Citizen of the Year at Thursday evening's annual Celina-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce awards banquet.
Before a standing audience and with his ever-infectious smile, Wright, of Celina, humbly accepted the honorary plaque from chamber Director Pam Buschur.
"There have been many who have helped me along the way and should be up here too. This is a total surprise," Wright said.
Wright served the citizens of Mercer County for 32 years as deputy sheriff, probation officer of the Common Pleas Court and as an investigator for the prosecuting attorney's office. He also was named the Wright State University-Lake Campus alumnus of the year in 2006.
A past president and trustee of the chamber, he helped form the chamber's Youth Leadership Program and established the Grand Lake Law Enforcement Academy in 2001 in conjunction with Wright State where he serves as commander.
Wright also works with Community Development Services to assist in securing grants.
The Community Business of the Year award went to State of the Heart Home Health & Hospice. Employee Tammy Fox accepted the award on behalf of the company.
Mercer County Hospice merged with the hospice in Greenville 25 years ago and its celebrating its landmark anniversary this year. The agency has offices in Coldwater and Portland, Ind., in addition to headquarters in Greenville. The program expects to serve up to 1,000 patients this year.
The Chamber's Achievement award recipient was the West Ohio Healing Fields Committee.
Nick Kahlig, representing the committee, accepted the award on behalf of the group.
The West Ohio Healing Fields event was held at Maria Stein on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2005 terrorist attack. It honored the victims of 9-11 and recognized local heroes who serve their communities voluntarily each day.
The Healing Fields raised enough money to give back more than $35,000 to local police, fire, EMS and military organizations. It drew more than 40,000 visitors in the four days it was open to the public.
Mary Dieringer, of Celina, was chosen as the Humantiarian award winner, with a large contingent of her family present at the banquet to honor her.
"I just realized why so many of my family are here," Dieringer exclaimed as she accepted her award.
Dieringer is a retired school teacher, having taught at Cheryl Ann, Celina Immaculate Conception and St. Henry Elementary.
She is one of the founders of Camp Inquire, a summer program for gifted children, held at the Lake Campus and has taught sessions for 20-plus years. Although retired, she has used her teaching skills at Harbor House, at the Wright State Reading Center where she helps children with reading problems and has mentored and tutored children with learning problems at home. She was the first woman church council president at St. John Lutheran Church in Celina where she remains an active member.
Dieringer also is coordinator for the Buckeye Girls state project of the Celina American Legion Auxiliary.
The large crowd attending the awards banquet were entertained by humorist and motivational speaker, Cea Cohen-Elliott, of Beavercreek, who stressed the importance of "laughing more to live better."
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