CANTON, OH (October 17, 2011) – Donald L. Hart will be recognized with the highest honor, the Award of Merit, at the upcoming Community Salute Awards. The award will be presented along with Awards of Appreciation on Wednesday, Nov. 2, at the Canton Regional Chamber’s Community Salute Awards dinner, held at The University Center at Kent State University at Stark. Tickets are available online for $50 at CantonChamber.org or by calling (330) 458-2070. Community Salute Award of Appreciation winners include: Dennis and Lynne Biery, Biery Cheese, Maria Byington, owner of Arcadia Grill, the Stark County Parks District, Bob Fonte, park director, and Raymond Wilkof, president of Stark Industrial LLC. Sponsors of this year’s Community Salute Awards include The Timken Company, along with Aultman Health Foundation, Stark Industrial, Inc., Biery Cheese, Stark Community Foundation and The Repository.
ABOUT THE HONOREES Don Hart has provided leadership and has been active in many community activities since arriving in Canton in 1956. His work in the community has been more than sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the 2011 Community Salute Award of Merit, but his leadership on two recent projects truly demonstrates his deserving this special recognition. Hart led the effort to bring the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad to Canton and helped find a new permanent home for Trillium Family Solutions. Hart chaired the project to locate a site, gain the funding, and build a passenger train station here in Canton to make it possible for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad to offer train services to Stark County. He established the Canton Advisory Council of the Railroad to assure that our community would have a say about future train service. Because of his efforts, thousands of children and their parents have enjoyed an annual ride on the Polar Express, many train enthusiasts have answered to the call of “all aboard,” and the train has become an important offering for tourists and visitors to our city. Hart saw to it that mountains were moved (mountains of bricks, dirt, and red tape, that is) to ensure the completion of quaint train station on West Tuscarawas that serves both to beautify the area and to provide a spot for patrons to catch the train. While serving on the board of Trillium Family Solutions, Hart agreed to chair the project to find a new permanent home for the non-profit agency. He recognized that in order to maintain the legacy of the agency and to serve the ever-growing number of clients, a new, larger and more efficient office would be required. Little did he realize that the acquisition timeframe would be shortened and that the economy would turn south, forcing the agency to raise money when funds were scarce. Thanks to the significant support of local foundations and many individuals in our community, the project moved forward. His engineering, project management skills and ability to negotiate were also put to the test when he became the quasi-general contractor, overseeing a large portion of the remodeling work himself. The rest, as we say, is history: Trillium is now in a building of their own, not leased, and last year they served more than 11,000 clients – nearly twice the number they could serve from the former location. Hart graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University. He completed nearly forty years of service with The Timken Company before retiring in 1996. He served as an officer of the corporation for 17 years and was Vice President - Bearings, North and South America and Asia-Pacific, at the time of his retirement. Hart received the Key Man Award from the Canton Jaycees, served on the board of the Stark Community Foundation, where he was chair for three years, and on the board of the Canton Symphony Orchestra. He chaired the annual fund drives for both Fund for the Arts and the United Way, and served on the board of the Buckeye Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He retired with the rank of Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve. He currently is president of the Henry and Louise Timken Foundation and serves on several committees of the Stark Community Foundation. While a member of the Church of the Covenant, he was an Elder and choir member, and currently is a member of Christ Presbyterian Church. Hart and wife, Rhoda, just celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. They have two sons and six grandchildren. He is an avid golfer and is a past president of Brookside Country Club, where he continues to play tennis as well as golf. He is an experienced sailor and enjoys gardening as well as attending every sporting event possible to support his grandchildren.
Dennis Biery, president of Biery Cheese, and his wife Lynne Biery are receiving an Award of Appreciation for service through short-term activities resulting in widespread benefit to the community. Through Biery Cheese, a family owned business that dates back to 1929, the Bierys have always made time to take on leadership and service roles in the community, especially in the education arena. They have contributed to local universities, including the University of Mount Union, Malone University and Walsh University. They also provide scholarships for area students, including summer work programs at Biery Cheese. Last year, two years after Louisville High School had begun plans to replace deteriorated bleachers, the gates opened to the new $3.4 million Louisville Leopards Stadium. The stadium was transformed from a flattened piece of land into one of the nicest high school athletic stadiums in the state. Dennis Biery co-chaired the Louisville’s stadium committee and was the driving force behind the project, even pitching in to do some of the manual work himself in addition to leading the charge in raising the funds for the project. Prior to the football stadium project, the Bierys helped build new baseball and softball fields for school. The Bierys were also instrumental in the creation of the first YMCA building in Louisville. They donated major financial and on-site work for the project, and as a result, the Louisville Area YMCA has become a true hub of the community. Likewise, the Bierys have been longtime supporters of Copeland Oaks, pledging major support for projects at the retirement community. They have long been dedicated to renovating and rejuvenating local history. Through the efforts of Lynne Biery, the Frank A. Sebring Mansion has undergone major restoration to transform it into a country inn, resulting in a thriving success for the local community. Through her work, the home has come alive once again and will be preserved for future generations. She was also involved in the renovation of The Strand Theatre in downtown Sebring, bringing back the long history of the majestic landmark.
Maria Byington is receiving an Award of Appreciation for enhancing the welfare of Stark County citizens through outstanding success in business and service. As the owner of Arcadia Grill, Canton-native Maria Byington is a goodwill ambassador for downtown Canton and is passionate about making it a vibrant place for everyone to enjoy. Rather than competition, Byington looks at her fellow local businesses as colleagues and partners in sustaining the growth of downtown Canton. Byington works tirelessly to support the downtown Canton community and its citizens. She annually stages fundraisers at Arcadia Grill, including the pub crawls, restaurant round robins, and Christmas in July, where she donates a percentage of her total sales to various non-profit organizations throughout the month of July. Among these organizations are the Canton Palace Theatre, Ex-Newsboys Association, Project Rebuild and many, many others. In addition, Byington hosts guest bartending nights to support community charitable causes such as Wishes can Happen, Canton Rugby Club, Relay for Life and Canton City Firefighters. Byington often donates food for families in need, be it after funeral services, by providing food for volunteers, or assisting the Red Cross by donating food for misplaced residents. She has generously supported the efforts of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Timken Grand Parade and Community Parade, both as a sponsor and as a provider of refreshments for volunteers. Even when faced with serious health issues herself over the past several years, her unwavering spirit continues to shine through as she consistently puts others before herself. Byington is a kind and humble spirit who engages in innumerable behind-the-scenes charity services, never once looking for credit or recognition.
Stark County Park District (Bob Fonte, director) is receiving the Award of Appreciation for enhancing the welfare of Stark County citizens through expanding recreation, healthy lifestyles and nature education in our community. After 30 years of little growth and the rejection of ten operating levies, the Stark County Park District knew they needed a change. In early 1997, Fonte and the staff created a plan to build a countywide system of 300 miles of trails and greenways that captured residents’ imagination and garnered their support. Now, 14 years later, the trail mileage extends more than 70 miles, and the natural areas managed by Stark Parks are up from 400 acres to 7,200 acres. This growth has supported local businesses, preserved wetlands and flood plains, added good paying jobs to our community, and expanded low-cost recreation at a time when residents have less money to spend. The Exploration Gateway at Sippo Lake Park is a center of nature, culture and life-long learning. Established in 2007 in collaboration with the Stark County District Library, the partnership was the first of its kind in the nation, allowing these two important public partners to expand their programming, work together, save taxpayer dollars, and provide a beautiful community asset. Stark Parks has partnered with the City of Canton to build a 4.4-mile trail through city parks from 9th Street to Covered Bridge Park and a one-mile trail along the Mahoning Road Corridor in the NEAR neighborhood. Additional trails and pedestrian/bicycle routes will soon be under construction. The partnership with the City of Alliance has opened two large lakes – Walborn and Deer Creek – for more boating, fishing and hiking. Stark Parks sponsors more than 300 free programs and events annually. They established the Congressman Ralph Regula Canalway Center, including 11 interactive exhibits exploring our culture, history and nature. From 2007-2010 local residents voted Stark Parks the “Best Place to Spend Time with your Family” and the “Best Outdoor Recreation Site.” In 2011, Sippo Lake Park and Stark Parks were voted as “Best Park.” For the last two years, the park district has received two coveted “Pinnacle Awards” from the Center for interactive Learning and Collaboration. They have also received state and regional awards from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft and a National Boater Education Advancement Award from the National Safe Boating Council, among many others.
Raymond Wilkof is receiving an Award of Appreciation for outstanding performance in his profession and civic activities that benefited the community. Wilkof is a hardworking business owner and highly dedicated philanthropic leader in the Stark County community. In 1959, with a young family to support, Wilkof quit his job and founded Stark Industrial Supply, first distributing power transmission equipment out of a small storefront on 12th St. Through the years, he grew his business by listening to the needs of his customers. In 1976, his son Sam joined him in business and shortly afterwards Stark Industrial ventured into the world of precision measuring instruments. In the 1990s, their focus shifted to the manufacture of precision parts for a wide variety of industries throughout the world. Grandson Jonathan, an industrial engineer joined the company in 2005, making Stark a three-generation, privately held business. Together, they have grown the business to 36 employees and Wilkof knows each of them on a personal level. The average tenure at Stark Industrial is over 19 years; his loyalty to his employees has been returned. In the words of his nominator, Robert Fay, “Ray has lived the great American Dream and has helped many fellow citizens realize theirs as well.” His volunteerism is far-reaching and diverse. From boating to Boy Scouts, symphony to synagogue, Wilkof has shared his leadership, innovative ideas and positive attitude with his community. He has served The Stark Development Board, the United Way, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the Canton City Schools Vocational committee, the Canton Symphony Orchestra board and the Jewish community in myriad capacities, including president. He was awarded the first-ever, prestigious SCOPE Award in 1994 from the Canton Regional Chamber, as well as the Lehman High School Alumni of the Year award. A man of great integrity, he serves as a mentor to many and an example to all. Wilkof is most proud that his is a family business, for no matter how committed he has been to civic activities throughout the years, family has always come first. He is proud of his son Jeffrey, a local attorney, his daughter Marcia, a management consultant, and his son Sam, his partner at Stark Industrial, and most of all his devoted wife of 66 years, Rossetta.