RIO GRANDE — For his years of dedication to the community in which he lives and works, Randall J. Finney received the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce’s most prestigious award during the 76th annual Gallia County Chamber of Commerce meeting and awards banquet held on Thursday evening at the University of Rio Grande.
Finney, the current Gallipolis City Manager, took away the chamber’s top honor, the Bud and Donna McGhee Service Award — an award that is kept secret each year until the night of the banquet.
A Gallipolis native and 1970 Gallia Academy High School graduate, Finney was employed by Robbins & Myers in Gallipolis in 1972, and, while continuing to work, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Rio Grande.
During his 35 years with Robbins & Myers — a company that has gone through several name changes and is currently Electrocraft — Finney climbed the ranks within the plant, becoming plant manager in 1998, a position he held until his retirement in 2009.
In October 2009 Finney was appointed by the Gallipolis City Commission to serve as their city manager, a post he continues to hold.
During his tenure as city manager, Finney has overseen many projects, including the construction of the Gallipolis Justice Center, as well as the new Gallipolis Municipal Building that is nearing completion in the 300 block of Third Avenue.
In addition to his work with the City of Gallipolis, Finney has also remained an active community member serving as a basketball coach; a member and president of the Rio Grande Baseball Association; an active member of the Gallia Academy Athletic Boosters Association and the Hall of Fame Committee. He has also previously served as president of the Ohio Valley Athletic Association for a 13 year period and was a member of the Red Dot for Schools committee.
Finney is also a former board member of the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce, has served on the River Recreation Festival committee, is a member of the Digital River Project Committee, a board member with United Way and the Gallia County Convention and Visitors Bureau, a board member with the Gallia County Community Improvement Corporation, a member of the Mayor’s Partnership for Progress, the Public Works Integrating Committee, district number 15; and is a member of the Protective Order of Elks Lodge number 107.
Finney has two sons, R.J. and David, and is the son of John and Betty Finney, local residents who winter in Florida and made a surprise return trip for Thursday’s banquet.
In addition to the Bud and Donna McGhee Community Service Award, several other individuals and organizations were recognized during Thursday’s banquet for their service to the community.
The Volunteer of the Year award recipient was Gwen Doss. Doss, a member of the Annual River Recreation Committee, has chaired the Kids’ Day event for seven years and is also a board member of the Sherrill Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a better future for the area’s children.
The Committee of the Year award was, this year, a co-award given to the Vinton Baptist Church Food Pantry and the Living Water Food Pantry.
The Vinton Baptist Church Food Pantry, now in its fifth year, is maintained by a host of volunteers who help to provide the county’s needy residents with food and other necessities. Since opening, the pantry has served 6,215 families — a total of 1,921 of those families in 2012.
The Living Water Food Pantry, coordinated by Ben and Ivy Price, is located in the old Methodist Church on Porter Road and serves any family living in Gallia County. The pantry, which opened its doors to Gallia County in November 2004, now serves approximately 330 families each month and also operates a free used clothing store where clothes can be provided to anyone in need, free of charge.
This year’s Beautification Award recipient is McDonald’s of Gallipolis, a local employer of 65 people and business supporter of community events. The first McDonald’s restaurant was opened in 1978 in Gallipolis and was owned and operated by Pat Sauber. In 1995, Kurt Sauber, opened the McDonald’s in Rio Grande and later purchased his father’s stores in Gallipolis and Point Pleasant. In 2006, the original Gallipolis building was demolished to make room for a new facility. Due to the structural issues this building was demolished and replaced, reopening its current building in September 2012.
The Community Involvement Award was also awarded to two groups at this year’s banquet.
The Gallia Academy High School G-Force, a conglomeration of the school’s student council, Key Club and Class of 2013. This past year, the group, through various fundraising events, raised $3,000 for the American Cancer Society - Relay for Life.
The Ohio Valley Christian School’s Defenders also received the Community Involvement Award for their dedication to raising funds for the Gallia County Chapter of the American Cancer Society. For the past five years, the school has sponsored the “Digging Pink, Kicking Cancer” event and, to date, the group has raised over $10,000 in the fight against cancer.
The Sudden Impact Award was awarded to Silver Screen VII. The cinema was revitalized and reopened by to Robbie and Tessa Pugh, with the most advanced technology on November 4, 2011.
Ohio Valley Trackwork, a local business established in 2001 and owned by the Little family, is this year’s Small Business of the Year. The company supplies the majority of the trackwork for for underground mining and also heavy trackwork for industrial facilities and railroads in the U.S., Canada and South America. The business has undergone three expansions since its opening — the most recent being the construction of a second building adjacent to their current operation in the Dan Evans Industrial Park.
Also recognized during the banquet was outgoing chamber board member, Matt Rodgers. Rodgers, an advertising representative with the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, has served on the chamber of commerce board since 2008 and has been an active member of the chamber’s welcoming group.
The 2012 River Recreation Festival Chair Amy Weaver also recognized by the chamber during their annual awards banquet. Weaver, who began working with the Gallipolis River Recreation Festival in 2005, has served as the festival chair on three different occasions.