by Sarah Einselen
Local United Way director Joyce Mayhill suddenly teared up as she took the microphone Friday night at the Logansport-Cass County Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner and awards night.
More than 140 business leaders in attendance had given Mayhill a standing ovation as Chamber board members Mark McCall and Chris Armstrong announced she had been named Businesswoman of the Year for 2012.
Mayhill felt an unexpectedly “overwhelming feeling” on receiving the award, she said afterward.
“It was an honor,” she said. “I was very humbled. Just the fact that I work for a non-profit and was recognized as a businesswoman, that was amazing.”
But it’s really all the other staff members and “hundreds of volunteers” involved in United Way that “make it happen,” she added.
Mayhill was one of five Chamber members to receive special recognition.
The chamber named Mike Anderson Auto Group co-owner Bill Thompson its Businessman of the Year. Thompson, a past president of the Logansport Kiwanis, began working for Mike Anderson in 1994.
The auto group now includes six new car dealerships and four used car lots.
“I know a lot of people who deserve this honor more,” he said. “I feel very humbled.”
Thompson told the crowd all of the company’s dealerships do their best to buy local goods and use local services whenever possible.
Milt Cole, owner of Cole Hardwood in Logansport, received the Large Business of the Year award on the company’s behalf. He, too, got a standing ovation while making his way from the back of the room.
“That’s a long way for an old man to walk,” he started out, eliciting laughter from the audience.
Cole, a self-described “transplant” from Tennessee, bought the hardwood company in 1986. It’s now one of the nation’s largest suppliers of its kind and maintains one of the largest on-site inventories in the Midwest, according to the Chamber.
Milt and his wife, Jean, have donated to several local projects, including the Eel River Run Trail and more than $1 million to a new wellness center at Indiana University-Kokomo.
“Cole Hardwood is always glad to help the community,” Milt Cole said. “Indiana’s been awful good to us.”
Judy’s GoodLife Emporium on East Market Street in Logansport was named the Small Business of the Year. The store, owned by Judy Masters, was established in 1998 and now employs one full-time and two part-time employees.
Masters thanked the chamber for the award and attributed her involvement to the example set by her father, Bob Masters, who was a longtime, active member of the chamber.
Reading Railroad, now seven years old, received the chamber’s 2012 Quality of Life award.
Armstrong noted that according to a March 2011 survey, 85 percent of parents whose children participated in Reading Railroad’s activities began reading more to their children as a direct result of the organization’s efforts.
“I think this award really shows what happens when a community works together,” said Nikki Reed, outgoing director of Reading Railroad.
• Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com or 574-732-5151.