BELPRE - The Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated the culmination of 2012 with about 200 community leaders, citizens and business owners at the 75th annual dinner Thursday in St. Ambrose Catholic Church.
"The chamber has been fortunate that we have seen growth this year," said Mayor Mike Lorentz. "I think it's because our city is looking and acting different and being more welcoming."
The keynote speaker for this year's event was Chuck Martin, former ABC News Bureau chief, owner of KCLW-AM in Hamilton, Texas, and KBSS-FM in Booneville, Ark., and board member at the Wood County Family Crisis Intervention Center's Domestic Violence Shelter. Martin is the owner of Martin Broadcasting Co.
Martin spoke fondly of his work with the Wood County Family Crisis Intervention Center and Domestic Violence Shelter. He mentioned the men and women who have gone there for help and how important it is to help others in this lifetime.
"The whole life is knowing where to go for help," Martin said as his mantra. "We all are gifted with a unique set of skills and abilities.
"You don't have to do incredible things, just being there for people and making a difference is all anyone needs to do," he said. "Doing something amazing is wonderful for all of us, but helping people is so much more."
Martin, who has received more than 37 awards for his broadcasting and journalism work, also talked about working in the news industry.
"I spent time with and met many presidents from Lyndon Johnson to William Jefferson Clinton to George Herbert Walker Bush," he said. "Nixon was strange, Carter was nice and Bush was a gentleman.
"Of all the people I have ever met, only two I got goosebumps when I walked into the room and those were Congresswoman Barbara Jordan of Houston, Texas, and Bill Clinton."
Martin closed with words of wisdom for all in the room.
"Have compassion, be a mentor to someone, somehow," he said. "I believe that we are who we choose to be."
The Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce took time to recognize area businesses, volunteers and named the Student of the Year and Citizen of the Year.
This year's Citizen of the Year is Joyce Lorentz for her commitment to the community and its people.
"I had no idea," said Joyce Lorentz after the event. "Everyone just surprised me."
Along with the announcements and speakers, chamber board members handed out the following awards: