By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News
The first thought that popped into Theresa Rose?s head after her name was announced as Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year was how she was going to interview herself on KILJ the next morning.
As news director at the radio station, Rose?s experience over the years at the annual Chamber banquet consisted of sitting in the crowd, jotting down what each Citizen of the Year recipient had to say. This year, instead of pen poised over a notebook, it was Rose?s turn to take the stage with her immediate and extended family proudly standing behind her.
?Thank you very much, and thank you for all my family here today,? Rose said, shocked and blown away by the honor. ?Gosh you guys, I don?t know what to say. Thank you, again, thank you.?
Rose was announced as Citizen of the Year at the annual Chamber banquet on Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Mt. Pleasant Country Club. The award is given to citizens living or working in Mt. Pleasant who have had a significant impact on the community through their volunteering and charitable activity. The winner is selected by the Chamber?s board of directors.
KILJ General Manager John Kuhens introduced Rose, saying, ?I will talk a little about Theresa because right now she?s speechless, but that won?t last long.?
Kuhens said that Rose started as an announcer at KILJ before giving birth to her first son. When she came back to the station, she started at a higher position before stepping away from her job to have her second son. The same thing happened with Rose?s third child, with her again coming back to a higher position at KILJ when returning to work.
?At that time, Paul Dennison [owner of KILJ] called a staff meeting and demanded she do a better job at birth control because he figured if she had one more baby she would have his job,? Kuhens said to a roar of laughter during the Chamber banquet.
Rose credits her grandmother, Ruth Booker, with her job at KILJ. Booker initially approached Dennison after Rose graduated college, asking if there was a position open for her granddaughter at the station. Rose figures he said, ?Okay, fine, whatever, send her to me,? before promptly forgetting about it. But she didn?t forget about it, and showed up to the interview.
?He put me on the air as a DJ,? Rose said. ?He gave me the opportunity to always move up.?
Between working at KILJ, Rose also did a four-year stint at Hearth and Home Technologies. Rose thanked the company for ?breaking me into what the rest of the business world was like,? she said.
As Rose holds the title of Citizen of the Year in 2018, she plans on looking for new and different opportunities to serve the community. ?It?s one of those things you never see yourself as,? she said, adding that when you call a town home, ?you automatically give.?
In addition to celebrating Rose as Citizen of the Year, the Chamber celebrated the city?s accomplishments of the last year as well as announcing the Main Street Mt. Pleasant Leadership Award, the Expansion Award and the Business of the Year award.
2017 Chamber President Jeff Fedler opened the night, thanking Chamber Executive Vice President Kristi Ray for the skill sets she brings to the table that have been crucial to the vision of the Chamber. Fedler also highlighted the new events that took place throughout the year, saying they have shifted the focus away from fundraising and on to celebrating Chamber members with Small Business Week and the new Henry County Leadership Class.
Small Business Week in 2017 celebrated small businesses that are ?such an integral part of Mt. Pleasant?s economy,? Fedler said. In the same way, the Leadership Class is a ?prime example? of preparing for community growth.
?When we think about the future of our community and potential for growth ? the number one thing that attracts young people to a community is young people,? Fedler said. ?If we?re going to recruit more young people, it means supporting and celebrating those already here, supporting our youth from prekindergarten to higher education.?
As Fedler passed the Chamber presidency to Robb Gardner for 2018, Gardner said that Mt. Pleasant is led by innovative, engaged business leaders. He encouraged Chamber members to continue to play a part in the Chamber?s success by giving back through volunteering, sponsoring an event and attending networking events such as Alive After Five.
As Gardner passed the mic back to Ray, she presented the Main Street Mt. Pleasant Leadership Award to Ashley Lohmann, of Mt. Pleasant Parks and Recreation Department. Ray said that Lohmann has played an integral part in the success of Main Street Mt. Pleasant since 2011, working with events and promotions, soliciting donations and working with local businesses.
?[Lohmann] is a truly energetic individual and a passionate person committed to the success of Main Street Mt. Pleasant,? Ray said.
Mayor Steve Brimhall then took the stage, presenting the Expansion Award to not one, but two businesses in Mt. Pleasant. The Expansion Award is presented to Chamber business members who expanded their business in physical size, number of employees or significant capital investments in the past year.
Hearth and Home Technologies was awarded the Expansion Award for opening doors to a new 90,000 square feet building next to their main facility in November. The $7.4 million project began in March and added 40 new jobs to the community.
Carla McNamee, Hearth and Home?s general manager, received the award on the company?s behalf.
Lomont Molding was also awarded the Expansion Award with their completion of a $2.1 million investment in the past year, including technology and physical infrastructure upgrades. The award was accepted by Lomont Marketing Manager Carl Frank.
Brimhall said that both of these companies have completed their expansions and cut the ribbon on their new facilities, investing in the expansion and growth of Mt. Pleasant.
The Business of the Year award went to Egli Landscape.