by Elizabeth Wehman, editor

THESE RECIPIENTS represented on designated posters shown here (inset) were on hand to accept their awards at the 2017 Shiawassee Regional Chamber Dinner held at D’Mar Banquet and Conference Center on Thursday, Jan. 26. Also standing for a photo following the event they include (from left) Roy Thelen, Karen and Jason Harris, Sue Ludington, Jay Slingerland, Jim Slingerland, Michael Paine, Morgan and John Beilfuss, Helen Howard, and Bryan Marks. (Independent Photos/Elizabeth Wehman)


The Shiawassee Regional Chamber dinner was held at the D’Mar Banquet and Conference Center on Thursday, Jan. 26. Many businesses and nonprofits had the opportunity to decorate tables to highlight their products and mission statements, which added to the whole community feel of the event. “This is truly an exciting time for Shiawassee County,” commented Chamber President Jeff Deason at the event, “Our theme is collaboration which is what it is all about.”

Joining the guests were the outstanding businesses and citizens recently honored by the chamber. Each were recognized for their achievements and given the opportunity to share their thanks with attending guests.

Those honored included three business award winners. Receiving the small business award was Michael Paine Photography, medium business award recipient Slingerland Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram FIAT and the Outstanding Large Business award to Bryan Marks and his team at Great Lakes Fusion of Vernon.

Individuals receiving honors were Roy Thelen for the 2017 Shiawassee Chamber Mission award recipient. Rising Star Award recipient Jason and Karen Harris of Harris Electric, LLC, the Chairman’s Award winner- Lula’s Louisiana Cookhouse, 2017 ATHENA award winner Sue Ludington, and Citizen of the Year award recipient Helen Howard from Respite Volunteers.

Big moments of the evening included a thank you speech given by Michael Paine upon receipt of his award. Paine told guests that just five years ago he was homeless and an alcoholic. Soon he decided to head back to his hometown of Owosso and start anew and with the help of friends, Paine did just that by taking on odd jobs and soon he was able to move into his own place and eventually start the Michael Paine Photography business. He told guests, “This marks a year that I have not touched a drink.” Guests in attendance gave him a rousing stand of ovation. He added, “It’s hard to believe that was my life then and now to receive this honor means so much.”

Another heartfelt thank you came from Respite Volunteer’s Director Helen Howard. Howard received the Citizen of the Year award. Howard related well to her position by retelling the story of her childhood and how she ended up being a caregiver for her mother at a very young age. Soon she found that she couldn’t take care of her mother and younger sister without the help of someone else. “Thus,” announced Howard, “began the process of gathering volunteers to help caregivers take care of their families in Shiawassee County. I’m a product of those services.”

Chamber Dinner Honors Many Local Businesses and Community Members was last modified: February 1st, 2017 by Karen Elford