NORTH CANTON  The North Canton Chamber of Commerce awarded its Business of the Year and recognized others during its annual awards luncheon March 23. The event had a packed room at the Kent State at Stark Conference Center.

"We have 140 members here today; the Chamber is excited for the overwhelming support of our members for the Chamber and for the award winners," said Chamber President, Doug Lane.

Members enjoyed networking and lunch before the awards were given. Lane kicked off the awards portion. He and other chamber members announced the following awards:

Business of the Year: Gervasi Vineyard

Community Investment Award: Pine Cone Gift Shoppe and St. Luke Lutheran Community

Community Service: North Canton Heritage Society

Community Leader Award: Dr. Gary Giammarco

Chamber Appreciation: I.B.E.W. Local 1985

Ellen Gray Volunteer of the Year: Alice Stephens, Character Counts!

North Canton Business of Character: Mohler’s True Value Home Center

Christi (Swaldo) Blackerby accepted the award for Gervasi. Before the awards ceremony, she said, "Gervasi is happy to accept this award from the North Canton Chamber."

"We are proud supporters of the Chamber and our continued growth and success reflects what a vibrant community we live in," she added.

Giammarco was given the Community Leader Award because of his long-term involvement with the local Little League baseball.

"Thank you for this award, it’s unexpected because working with the Little League is a true labor of love for me," he said.

Alice Stephens was surprised to have been awarded the Ellen Gray Volunteer of the Year and thanked everyone.

The afternoon ended with guest speaker, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. He talked about the different challenges facing the state of Ohio including education, taxes, regulations, education and getting in front of the drug problem in the state.

"One of the biggest challenges I see around the state is that our families have become so dysfunctional," DeWine said. "Unless we can address this challenge, our youth who are growing up in dysfunctional families will never be able to accomplish the American dream of owning a home, having a family and a having a good job. These kids are everywhere today, in urban areas, in suburbia and in every county in the state."