NASA (National Association of Systems Administrators) President John Blanchard received the “Business Champion Special Award” from the McHenry County Economic Development Corporation Thursday night.
For the second year he invited me to sit at his company’s table.
We had a better location this year. Virtually front and center.
No wonder we had such good seats.
I’m not quite sure what the award was for, because I was taking pictures while MCC President Walt Packard, who moonlights as Chairman of the EDC board of directors, was making the presentation.
Nevertheless, the program said,
“Business Champion, Special Recognition, John Blanchard, National Association of Systems Administrators – John created NASA Education in 1999, a nonprofit to offer tuition for worthy individuals. It now provides actual job training for U.S. Veterans who are displaced, disabled, homeless or in transition. He also sponsors Stand Down for Veterans which provides many services to McHenry County Veterans.”
Actually, the Stand Downs are not limited to McHenry County veterans. At the last one, in November, people came from as far away as Chicago. Out of county veterans came to the second one last March, too. This represented an expanded vision from the first one in the fall of 2006.
The next one is scheduled for March 31st and April 1st, again at Camp Algonquin. Volunteers are sought, as usual. (Call 815-479-0927.)
Among others who received awards were Congressman Don Manzullo (R-16th) and Congresswoman Melissa Bean (D-8th).
They were praised for garnering federal highway dollars for McHenry County projects. The “Transportation Champions Award” was presented by engineer Gary Overbay, vice chairman of the EDC’s Transportation Committee.
“The struggle to modernize our transportation system will continue to be (difficult),” he said.
After presentation of the awards, Manzullo made an amusing remark, “I would have been here earlier, except there was some congestion on Route 62.”
He complained specifically about the lack of cars at the intersection of Harrison Street and Route 62. He wondered why the light was red with no cars in sight.
Manzullo said both he and Bean had had a long day and that he almost missed the plane, being the last to board.
Bean commented that she had told the plane to wait for him, garnering a laugh.
Prairie Ridge Media, a small Cary-based won the EDC Business Champion Award for companies with less than 24 employees. CEO Carla Housh and her husband Arlin publish the glossy regional magazine McHenry County Living. It “celebrates the good life in McHenry County by chronicling the people, places, events and history that make McHenry County a great place to live.” They also publish “Incident Prevention,” a business to business publication.
In the next largest employee number category, 25-100, Larry O’Connor of Other World Computing accepted the award from Packard. A division of New Concepts Development, it “provides hardware products to the computer industry and through its e-commerce portal, www.macsale.com, features one of the largest online catalogs of computer and iPod enhancement features available to support the latest Apple models as well as the vast array of vintage Macs still in use,” according to the program.
Pioneer Center CEO Lorraine Kopczynski accepted the award for the largest category of employer, 110+. “This non-profit organization offers counseling, vocational training, rehabilitation and other services to adults and children with mental illness and developmental disabilities,” according to the EDC program. “Pioneer also operates McHenry County’s largest emergency housing program for the homeless and the county’s only certified sexual assault services program for adults,” it adds.
Centegra Health Systems CED Mike Eesley was also named a “Business Champion.” Centegra, of course, is the largest health system operating in McHenry County.
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Most of the pictures are explained by the text around or below them. McHenry County College President Walt Packard is the award presenter in the photographs. Gary Overbay is seen conferring with Congressman Don Manzullo above the picture of Packard and Congresswoman Melissa Bean. Below Bean and Manzullo share a humorous moment before speaking to the crowd at the Holiday Inn. In the second from the bottom photo, you can see Sue Dobbe, the Business Awards Committee Chairman, on the right.
Before the meeting, some politicing was going on. I spotted Congresswoman Melissa Bean talking with Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager. Besides seeing him at MCC Board meetings, the last time I saw him was at the McHenry County Democratic Central Committee’s January meeting featuring 16th district challenger Robert Abboud.