Mentor Chamber of Commerce announces 2013 awards

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Richard Harvey serves not only as Mentor's fire chief, but also as a community volunteer, nurse, cook, counselor, father, grandfather, mentor and friend.

That is according to his nominator for Mentor Area Chamber of Commerce's 2013 Citizen of the Year.

Harvey, along with other winners, will be lauded at the chamber's annual awards luncheon/meeting Tuesday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Mentor, 7701 Reynolds Road.

Since 1965, the chamber has honored outstanding leaders and businesses that enrich the Mentor community, Chamber President and CEO Kevin Malecek said.

Other awards and recipients are:

—Business Leader of the Year -- Morris W. Beverage Jr., Lakeland Community College president

—Business of the Year -- Lake National Bank

—Honorary Lifetime Membership -- Randy Verdi, principal of the Verdi Group and Verdi's Imported Foods

"The Mentor Area Chamber of Commerce consistently receives nominations for our awards that aim to recognize the best qualities of community leadership in both the individual and business categories," Malecek said. "Chief Harvey, President Beverage, Randy Verdi and Lake National Bank are no exception to this standard and represent what is best about the Mentor area."

Harvey began his career at age 17 -- nearly 48 years ago -- as a part-time firefighter for Saybrook Township Fire Department. He was hired full-time in Mentor in 1974, retired as battalion chief and worked four years as Kirtland fire chief. He returned to Mentor to take the chief post in 2001.

He was recognized in 2012 by the Ohio Veterans of Foreign Wars with the Firefighter of the Year award.

"He is very well-respected in both the region and the state by other fire services, leaders in law enforcement, public safety and school and hospital systems," Malecek said. "But most importantly, he has the respect and the confidence from the people he serves in the community."

Harvey expressed gratitude for the award and said he doesn't act alone. He oversees 125 full- and part-time firefighter/paramedics and the department runs about 7,500 emergency calls a year.

"I get to see the magic we're able to work with our fire and EMS services -- we have some great people -- and ... I'm getting recognized for that and all the great work that they do," he said.

Beverage was chosen business leader in recognition of his work to obtain funds for the Holden University Center, which allows students from the area to continue their bachelor and graduate degrees with partnering universities and to make education more accessible and affordable for all, Malecek said.

He also was instrumental in organizing county leaders to develop a plan to promote and provide for creation of jobs and employment opportunities.

"I believe receiving this honor is a reflection on all the wonderful people who make Lakeland Community College a great place to work and learn," Beverage said.

Lake National Bank is Lake County's lone locally owned and operated bank, and is being recognized for its economic support of the community and encouragement of its employees to give back to many area organizations.

"One of our primary objectives is community involvement, including employee participation, sponsorships, and mutually beneficial partnerships with local organizations, businesses and public entities," said Andrew L. Meinhold, bank president.

The honorary lifetime membership is new this year. Verdi has served on the chamber board twice, including as chairman in 2011, and was noted for a number of achievements.

When owner of Great Harvest Bread Co., he created the Bread for a Day concept, working with Mentor Rotary to raise money for the Leukemia Foundation. His business also benefited the United Way of Lake County gift program, and he helped build a bakery in Haiti to serve the poor.

"There are so many awesome, creative and dedicated people in this business community," Verdi said. "We all do 'our piece' to try to make this a great place to live."

For more information, contact the chamber at 440-255-1616 or Kevin Malecek,


©2013 The News-Herald (Willoughby, Ohio)

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