KEVIN LENKART, the public safety director for the city of Owosso, was surprised Monday, May 15 with the announcement that he has been chosen to receive the 2023 Chairman’s Award by the Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce (SRCC). The announcement took place at the Owosso Public Safety headquarters. The surprise was preserved thanks to Lenkart’s co-workers, who organized a fictitious scheduling meeting to ensure Director Lenkart would be in the office at the appropriate time.
Lenkart was presented with a gift basket by Char Hebekeuser, the chairperson of the SRCC Board of Directors. He will receive his actual award during the SRCC annual dinner on Thursday, June 8. The dinner will be held at the Z Hall in Owosso from 5 to 9 p.m.
Lenkart has been the public safety director for 10 years and is a longtime public servant. In addition to his responsibilities with the Owosso Police Department (OPD), Lenkart is involved with three nonprofit organizations – the Curwood Festival, the Voices for Children and the Steam Railroad Institute – that are dear to his heart.
Hebekeuser explained that the Chairman’s Award is given annually to an individual, business or organization that has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to the chamber and contributes to the betterment of the county. At that point, Char got slightly emotional in describing the merits of Lenkart’s candidacy.
“It’s been a challenging year,” Hebekeuser expounded. “We wouldn’t have gotten through much of this last year without Kevin’s help and support. While I had a great team around me as board chair, I don’t know what I would have done without the kindness, listening ear and support of Kevin and other leaders in our community. Kevin has been very supportive of the chamber for many years. Since I have been the chair, I have gotten to know him better, he has been very giving of his time to assist me and give advice since we did not have a president/CEO at the helm for most of the time.”
In attendance for the surprise were a number of Lenkart’s current OPD colleagues, several members of the SRCC board of directors, his wife, Robin and even former work mates like retired OPD School Resource Officer Mike Ash and his wife, Lisa. Although he is not one to seek the spotlight, Lenkart appreciated the Monday afternoon surprise.
“I’m very honored and surprised,” shared Lenkart. “I have great respect for the chamber board; not only Char, but Laura Archer and the rest of the board. All throughout my 10 years here, we’ve had a great relationship. There are a lot of people who are deserving of this, so I am honored to be chosen.”
(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)