Hartford Chamber honors volunteers, businesses at annual dinner
Fox Brothers Piggly Wiggly named Business of the Year

By Joe VanDeLaarschot

Feb. 1, 2019

 Linda Mehlum of Hartford, center, is overcome with emotion as she and other members of the Pink Pumpkin Run Board of Directors are announced the “Volunteer of the Year,” on Thursday evening during the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce annual dinner and awards event at the Chandelier Ballroom in Hartford. “I just wanted to make a difference in peoples lives and this just verifies that maybe we do,” said Mehlum. The Pink Pumpkin Run, which began in 2015, raises money for families going through breast cancer. Mehlum is a two-time cancer survivor.
John Ehlke/Daily News

HARTFORD — Unusually cold winter weather failed to stop the annual Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner from going on as planned Thursday night at the Chandelier Ballroom. Several awards were presented to local businesses and chamber members.

In an unusual occurrence, there was a tie in the voting for the annual Hartford Achievement Award so both Tom Hostad, executive director of the Hartford Area Development Corp., and the public service organization Hartford Community Service, were each presented the award.

Chamber Executive Director Scott Henke said Hartford Community Services is a local group that gives back to the community by using the proceeds from their annual haunted house, Terror on Rural Street, to provide other service organizations with funds throughout the year.

“They also help with the countywide disaster training — they do all the makeup and realistic things that are set up for the training sessions,” Henke said. Henke said Hostad helps the community through involvement in various groups and activities.

“He, of course, promotes area development and he is also on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Washington County,” Henke said. “He is very involved in the community.”

Other chamber awards and the recipients include:

■ Volunteer of the Year — The Pink Pumpkin Board of Directors “This group has been very active in the three years it has been around in not only in the Pink Pumpkun Run itself (held every fall), but in selling pink pumpkins during the month of October. They use all of their proceeds to buy gift cards and for many other things for people who are going through a battle with breast cancer,” Henke said. “It’s kind of like the old way when a neighbor would bring a casserole over to the home of the person in need only they bring gift guards and other things that they can use to get to doctor’s appointments or treatments, etc.”

■ Rookie of the Year — Casey’s Creations

Henke said Casey’s Creations came on the business scene in about mid-2018 in the Chamber’s Farmers Market.

“Husband and wife Casey and Eric Leintz decided to make cookies for the market. She makes great cookies and decided to do some baking and I think they baked about six dozen the first night and sold out immediately,” Henke said. “Since then they’ve blossomed out to doing all kinds of cookies and baked good goods and have grown from there. They’ve done a great job starting out. They still do it out of the home, but they do some online business.”

■ Legacy Award — Design Originals Floral

“They’ve always been involved with anything the Chamber or the Community asks,” Henke said. “The business is owned by Mark and Charlene Jung.”

■ President’s Award — Larry Goeman

Goeman owns two convenience stores, one in Hartford, the other in Erin and then he also owns Uncle Larry’s Kitchen which is inside his Hartford Rapid Mart and Uncle Larry’s Car Wash.

“He was picked because it seems every time he’s asked to do something he is there to do whatever he can,” Henke said.

■ Business of the Year — Fox Brothers Piggly Wiggly

Henke said there’s not enough he can say about the store, the owners and the employees.

“They step up every way they can and they run a great employee owned business,” Henke said.

Nominees for each of the awards, other than the winners included:

■ Volunteer of the Year — Dana Osmanski, Davie Pye, Marilyn Raschka, Martha Kolins and Rev. James Schleif.

■ Hartford Achievement Award — The Lutz Family Foundation, Pat Frank and Ralph Kuepper.

■ 2018 Rookie of the Year — Cobblestone Hotel and Suites and Wissota Chophouse, Keith Justman, M & J Auto and Shindigs.

■ Legacy Award — Chandelier Ballroom, Dave’s Lanes, Hartford Golf Club and the Ponderosa Steakhouse.

■ Business of the Year — Broan-NuTone LLC, East Side Lumber Company and Ewald’s Hartford Ford.