Community leaders honored at annual MACC dinner

Wally Kandel named Gabe Zide Citizen of the Year

Wally Kandel is escorted from the podium by Lenora Lada and Laurie Miller after he received the Gabe Zide Citizen of the Year award at the annual meeting dinner of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce on Monday night. (Photo by Michael Kelly)

A senior industrial manager, founding director of an association to promote resource development in Appalachia, and an advocate for autistic people and other community causes was named Gabe Zide Citizen of the Year by the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce.

Wally Kandel, senior vice president and Marietta site manager for Solvay Specialty Polymers, received the annual award Monday night. Kandel also is a founding director of Shale Crescent USA, an organization established to promote the Marietta area as an industrial development center for shale oil and gas.

Laura Miller of the Marietta Noon Rotary Club introduced Kandel as someone who “introduces Marietta to the world” and a person who “has an uncanny ability to see potential in others and paves a way for them to advance.”

Kandel, she said, is a champion for his employees and donates to the community his “time, treasures and talent, builds amazing friendships, and is an example of gracious giving and selfless service.”

In accepting the award, given by the chamber since 1963 to a person who gives in extraordinary measure to the community, Kandel focused on the prospects for Marietta and the promise of Shale Crescent USA.

Laurie Strahler, franchise owner of McDonald’s of Marietta, speaks to the crowd at the 104th annual meeting and awards dinner of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce on Monday night at the Dyson-Baudo Recreation Center on the Marietta College campus. Strahler received the Business Leader of the Year Award. (Photo by Michael Kelly)

He recalled from his time at Marietta College reading the poem “The Bridge Builder” by Will Allen Dromgoole.

“I’ve thought about the bridges I’ve crossed, built by someone else, and I know that when I cross a chasm there’s always someone behind me,” he said, adding, “I’m looking for a way to bring young people into this (community) service, and if we’re not preparing the next generation, that’s our fault, not theirs.”

Kandel said the area is on the verge of a massive development, and the city needs to get ready for it.

“Four years ago, we started Shale Crescent USA. Now we have a $9 billion plant coming to Belmont, the biggest in Ohio history. This is a challenge to you, the service organizations. Most of the companies who build here will be foreign … they’re looking for a place to establish headquarters. Our school (buildings) are old and embarrassing, our YMCA is closing, it doesn’t really sound like a place to invest in. We need to create a positive vision for young people, to make it a place you’d want to invest in,” he said.

The Gabe Zide Citizen of the Year award is determined by a group of local service clubs: The Civitan Club, The Pioneer Ladies Civitan Club, Marietta Kiwanis, Marietta Lions, Marietta Noon Rotary, and Marietta Morning Rotary.

Cathy Harper looks at a bouquet of flowers she was given as she went to the podium Monday night to receive the Zonta Elizabeth A. Hadler Woman of the Year award at the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting dinner. (Photo by Michael Kelly)

The chamber presented three other long-established awards at the event.

Laurie Strahler, franchise owner of McDonald’s of Marietta, was given the Business Leader of the Year award.

“There are people who are great doers, and others who are great thinkers, but it’s somewhat more rare to find someone who is both,” Tom Crooks, last year’s winner, said to introduce Strahler.

He noted her business and its employees have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for a range of community causes. Those include two of the city’s most successful local fund-raising efforts, Dancing with the Docs and the Marietta McDonald’s Half Marathon.

“I have such a great respect for those who came before me, who taught me to believe in myself,” Strahler said. “I’m grateful to my team, who work smart and hard … giving back is our top priority. I’ll cherish this moment forever.”

Stephen Carr (left) shakes hands with Tom Witten as his brother Rodney Carr and Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce board chairman Kristopher Justice stand by during the awards presentation at the chamber’s annual meeting dinner. The Carr brothers received the Washington County Cooperatives 2019 Agricultural Award. Witten, of Wittens Farm Market and Greenhouse, was the award winner last year. (Photo by Michael Kelly)

Strahler, whose operations employ 180 people, is the daughter of the first Business Leader of the Year award recipient, Betty Hadler, who received it in 1986 and also held the McDonald’s franchise.

The Zonta Woman of the Year Award, named for Elizabeth Hadler, went to Cathy Harper, treasurer for the city of Marietta and also coordinator for The Right Path, an organization that promotes healthy development in young people, emphasizing the prevention of substance abuse.

Desni Crock, a member of Zonta, said Harper’s work in the community embodied the qualities of passion, ethics and compassion.

“I couldn’t do my work if it weren’t for my partners – and I’ll be calling on you this summer,” Harper said. “I’m so humbled by this, thank you so much.”

The Washington County Cooperative Agricultural Award was presented to farmers Stephen and Rodney Carr by Tom Witten, owner of Wittens Farm Market and Greenhouse and last year’s award winner.

Witten said the brothers started a family business making concrete products that included stock troughs and built it toward success by showing their products at fairs and talking and listening to farmers about what they wanted. Both have long backgrounds in agriculture and have served the community through volunteer work with the 4-H and many other organizations, he said.

The brothers are now retired, each living on farms in Washington County, and are hunting and fishing enthusiasts. Stephen plays ragtime piano and Rodney is a guitarist.

The award was established in 1971 by the Washington County Council of Cooperatives, made up of the Washington Electric Cooperative, Farmer’s Mutual Insurance Association, Farm Credit Mid-America, Heritage, and the Washington County Farm Bureau.

At Monday night’s meeting dinner, attended by about 600 people, the 2019 board chairman of the chamber, Kristopher Justice of TheisenBrock legal services, was introduced.