The stage was lined with honorees
as Lora Iceberg Parks sang You are the Wind Beneath My
Wings at the Ripley County Chamber of Commerces
Red Carpet Celebration dinner meeting.
The event, coordinated by Cathy May and a committee, was complete
with red carpet, Oscar look alike decorations and those being
honored receiving the prestige of a true Oscar night.
Those being honor included six foundations/funds that have forever
changed the landscape and lives of residents in the county.
The impact is felt from fire departments to economic opportunities
never before realized.
Presidents of the board of directors from each foundation or
a volunteer representative from the group accepted the award
on behalf of the foundation they serve. May, who speerheaded
honoring the foundations, wanted it that way. While several
have executive directors who are paid personnel, they also have
boards who volunteer their time and effort.
Lawrenceburg Mayor Bill Cunningham accepted the award on behalf
of the City of Lawrenceburg Regional Development Grant Fund.
He said to date over $60M has been given through this fund.
There have been 5500 jobs created due to the generosity of the
fund that encompasses ten Southeastern Indiana counties with
Ripley being one of them. Were glad to share with
Ripley County, Cunningham noted.
Bill Hillenbrand, fourth generation representative of the John
A. Hillenbrand Foundation family, was on hand to accept the
award for his familys foundation that was established
in 1950. Just a few of their efforts include grants to the Southeastern
Indiana YMCA, CREATE, St. Louis Church and school, Speaking
of Womens Health and more.
Accepting on behalf of the Gilmore and Golda Reynolds Foundation
was Mike Black, board president. Over $7M has been given to
improve the lives of the people of Osgood and the surrounding
areas since the foundation was established 12 years ago.
Brenda Wetzler accepted the award on behalf of the Ripley County
Community Foundation, which became a reality in 1997. Through
Lilly Endowments GIFT Initiative there have been more than 100
Endowment funds established granting more than $12 million to
non-profit groups in Ripley County.
The Rising Sun Regional Foundation was represented by Marianne
Wiggers, who was the first president of the board 15 years ago,
and remains in that position today. The foundation was created
by the City of Rising Sun in conjunction with the development
of the Grand Victoria Casino. May noted the foundation will
have received an estimated $39 million, approximately $25.6
of which has been awarded in direct grants, leveraging over
$300 million from other sources. Millions of dollars have poured
into Ripley County since the foundations beginning in
1994 dramatically improving the lives of residents.
Its an honor and a privilege, Wiggers said
as she accepted the award. She noted further that Ripley
County is in an amazing position for growth.
The last and oldest fund in the county to be recognized was
The Tyson Fund. This fund was established in 1930 by Jim Tyson
and has provided millions of dollars over the years to make
the lives of those residing in the Versailles and surrounding
areas better. The award was accepted by Gene Cofield, trustee.
Matt McNew presided over the annual dinner meeting where Gerry
Nordmeyer presented the pillars of the community
which included Educator of the Year, Chad Moeller; Business
Person of the Year, Scott and Cindy Neal, and Citizen of the
Year, Owen Menchhofer.
These people have truly earned the awards they received, although
each was humbled about the nomination.
It was noted when Chad Moeller, principal of St. Louis School,
was initially called about the award, he thought maybe the call
was in fact for someone else. He was humble as he accepted the
award that so many people believed he deserved. Gerry Nordmeyer
introduced him by saying, He leads by example, treating
others with respect and kindness. She said she was inundated
with replys when teachers and staff at the school found out
about the award. He enjoys the students and interacts with them
from the time he greets them when they arrive off the buses
until they are again ready to get on the buses to go home.
Scott and Cindy Neal were recognized for their effort of bringing
the Neal-Weir Plaza to Versailles where Gold Star Chili and
Georges Pharmacy are located. It was noted that Scott
has been a businessman since he bought a gas station in Osgood
at the age of 16 and hired someone to run it for him while he
was in school.
Owen Menchhofer accepted the Citizen of the Year award, saying
he was thankful for his best friend and wife, Della, who was
on hand with his sons, Matthew, Jacob and wife, and mother Stella
and friend, for the big evening.
Menchhofer said he was honored to serve his community. But,
the Menchhofers have reached far beyond the local community
traveling several times to countries less fortunate to help
with mission trips.
The Ripley County Chamber of Commerce is celebrating 19 years
of operation. Amy Thomas serves as the executive director with
Matt McNew, president of the board of directors. Linda Chandler
is the vice-president, Gerry Nordmeyer, secretary and Bonnie
The 2012-2014 class of the board of directors were nominated
and voted on at the meeting. They include: Alesha Neal, Osgood;
Cathy May, Osgood; Gerry Nordmeyer, Batesville; Matt McNew,
Osgood; Justin Smith, Milan; Marc Rulli and Mike Hughes, both
The chamber invites the public to visit them in the new welcome
center located in Versailles just across from the Neal-Weir
Plaza on US 50 east of the US 50 and US 421 intersection.