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02-03-05 Chamber of commerce presents annual awards

By Betty Lawrence

  COLDWATER -- Marilyn Darr, a retired Coldwater elementary teacher and the first woman elected to the Coldwater Village Council, accepted the Citizen of the Year award at Wednesday evening's annual chamber of commerce awards banquet.
Honored at Wednesday evening's Coldwater Chamber of Commerce awards banquet were Barry Paynter, left, manager of Relizon, recipient of the Business of the Year award; Gene Eckstein, Volunteer of the Year award; Marilyn Darr, Citizen of the Year award; and Brad Meyer and Paul Niekamp, accepting the Community Improvement award on behalf of Signature Partners/49 Degrees.<br>
  "This is a surprise and a real honor. I can remember back when my husband dragged me kicking and screaming to Coldwater, but I soon came to love Coldwater," Darr said smiling as she accepted her award to a standing ovation.
  Darr, 75, has a career of school, church and community involvement. In addition to being the first woman elected to the village council in 1998, Darr has served on the Coldwater Library Board for 22 years and is an active member of the Coldwater Kiwanis Club.
  The Business of the Year award went to Relizon with Plant Manager Barry Paynter on hand to accept the award.
  Relizon moved to Coldwater in 2002 and renovated 232,000 square feet of the former New Idea manufacturing facility. The company presently has 265 employees that go through 1.1 million pounds of paper monthly. Relizon produces printing and warehousing business forms, envelopes, journals, checks, etc.  Coldwater's Community Improvement award went to Signature Partners/49 Degrees, accepted by co-owners Brad Meyer and Paul Niekamp. The business also is owned and operated by Greg Bronkema and Michael McClurg.
  The business moved to the north edge of Coldwater in 2004. Signature 4 was founded by the Visions Group in 1991. Today, the business is known as Signature Partners LLC, providing image enhancement solutions. In 2003, Signature Partners Inc. founded 49 Degrees LLC to serve the architectural signage industry.
  Gene Eckstein, an active member of the Knights of Columbus and Coldwater's Holy Trinity Catholic Church, was present to accept the Volunteer of the Year award.
  The awards were presented by incoming chamber President Gary Bruns.
  In his state of the village address, Mayor Vern Stammen listed village accomplishments in 2004 and ended his speech with the following advice, "Tomorrows are only todays waiting to happen."
  Chamber secretary/treasurer Judy Wolf read off chamber activities of 2004, reporting a healthy ending balance of $5,000-plus.
  Accepted as new chamber trustees were Julie Geier, Al Lefeld, Mindy Homan and Terry Padden.


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