Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce names Kandel Citizen of the Year

Photo by Michael Kelly Wally Kandel is escorted from the podium by Lenora Lada and Laurie Miller after he received the Gabe Zide Citizen of the Year award at the annual meeting dinner of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce.

MARIETTA — One of the founding directors of the Shale Crescent USA has been named the Gabe Zide Citizen of the Year by the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce.

Wally Kandel, senior vice president and Marietta site manager for Solvay Specialty Polymers, also is an advocate for autistic people and other community causes.

Kandel was among recipients of awards at the annual dinner meeting of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce.

Laura Miller of the Marietta Noon Rotary Club introduced Kandel as someone who “introduces Marietta to the world” and a person who “has an uncanny ability to see potential in others and paves a way for them to advance.”

Kandel, she said, is a champion for his employees and donates to the community his “time, treasures and talent, builds amazing friendships, and is an example of gracious giving and selfless service.”

Photo by Michael Kelly Laurie Strahler, owner of McDonald’s of Marietta franchise, speaks at the 104th annual meeting and awards dinner of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce at the Dyson-Baudo Recreation Center at Marietta College. Strahler received the Business Leader of the Year Award.

In accepting the award, given by the chamber since 1963 to a person who gives in extraordinary measure to the community, Kandel focused on the prospects for Marietta and the promise of Shale Crescent USA.

He recalled from his time at Marietta College reading the poem “The Bridge Builder” by Will Allen Dromgoole.

“I’ve thought about the bridges I’ve crossed, built by someone else, and I know that when I cross a chasm there’s always someone behind me,” he said, adding, “I’m looking for a way to bring young people into this (community) service, and if we’re not preparing the next generation, that’s our fault, not theirs.”

Kandel said the area is on the verge of a massive development, and the city needs to get ready for it. Shale Crescent promotes resource development in Appalachia.

“Four years ago, we started Shale Crescent USA. Now we have a $9 billion plant coming to Belmont, the biggest in Ohio history. This is a challenge to you, the service organizations. Most of the companies who build here will be foreign … they’re looking for a place to establish headquarters. Our school (buildings) are old and embarrassing, our YMCA is closing, it doesn’t really sound like a place to invest in. We need to create a positive vision for young people, to make it a place you’d want to invest in,” he said.

Photo by Michael Kelly Cathy Harper looks at a bouquet of flowers she received as the Zonta Elizabeth A. Hadler Woman of the Year award at the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce annual dinner.

The Gabe Zide Citizen of the Year award is chosen determined by a group from the Civitan Club, the Pioneer Ladies Civitan Club, Marietta Kiwanis, Marietta Lions, Marietta Noon Rotary and Marietta Morning Rotary.

The chamber presented three other long-established awards at the event.

Laurie Strahler, franchise owner of McDonald’s of Marietta, received the Business Leader of the Year award.

“There are people who are great doers, and others who are great thinkers, but it’s somewhat more rare to find someone who is both,” Tom Crooks, last year’s winner, said for her introduction.

Crooks said her business and its employees have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for a range of community causes. Those include two of the city’s most successful local fundraisers, Dancing with the Docs and the Marietta McDonald’s Half Marathon.

“I have such a great respect for those who came before me, who taught me to believe in myself,” Strahler said. “I’m grateful to my team, who work smart and hard. Giving back is our top priority. I’ll cherish this moment forever.”

Strahler, whose operations employ 180 people, is the daughter of BettyHadler, who received the first Business Leader of the Year in 1986. Hadler owned the McDonald’s franchise.

The Zonta Woman of the Year Award, named for Elizabeth Hadler, went to Cathy Harper, treasurer of the city of Marietta and coordinator of The Right Path, an organization that promotes healthy development in young people and prevention of substance abuse.

Desni Crock, a member of Zonta, said Harper’s work in the community embodied passion, ethics and compassion.

“I couldn’t do my work if it weren’t for my partners – and I’ll be calling on you this summer,” Harper said. “I’m so humbled by this, thank you so much.”

The Washington County Cooperative Agricultural Award was presented to Stephen and Rodney Carr by Tom Witten, owner of Wittens Farm Market and Greenhouse and last year’s award winner.

Witten said the brothers started a family business making concrete products that included stock troughs and successfully developed it by showing their products at fairs and talking and listening to farmers about what they wanted. Both have backgrounds in agriculture and volunteer with the 4-H and many other organizations, he said.

The brothers are now retired, each living on farms in Washington County, and are hunting and fishing enthusiasts. Stephen plays ragtime piano and Rodney is a guitarist.

The award was established in 1971 by the Washington County Council of Cooperatives, made up of the Washington Electric Cooperative, Farmer’s Mutual Insurance Association, Farm Credit Mid-America, Heritage, and the Washington County Farm Bureau.

At Monday night’s meeting dinner, attended by about 600 people, the 2019 board chairman of the chamber, Kristopher Justice of TheisenBrock legal services, was introduced.