Rod Rafael and Teri Edwards received the Twin City Award, which goes to "an individual who is the embodiment of the 'Spirit of the Twin Cities.'"

DENNISON Historically, railroads have been an important part of the Dennison-Uhrichsville area, but Tuesday night it was a different RR was among those being celebrated and honored at the Twin City Chamber of Commerce's 2016 Annual Awards Banquet.

Rod Rafael and Teri Edwards both received the Twin City Award, which goes to "an individual who is the embodiment of the 'Spirit of the Twin Cities.'"

A large crowd of about 175 people attended the event in the Knight of Columbus Hall in Dennison.

Nominator Doug Ross said Rafael's "generosity is unmatched throughout his business career. He was very instrumental in saving our hospital, and is a supporter of many organizations and our youth. He currently provides a company truck and the fuel for the Twin City Food Pantry to get supplies from Akron. He has donated both monetarily and with physical assets from his company. Rod is a total class act with impeccable integrity."

Edwards said, "Anytime I have ever needed support for a project, Rod was always there to lend help in whatever way he could. And, he never wanted the praise for it. He saw it simply as his duty to help because he is fortunate enough to be able to do so. Always so humble and not wanting to be called out — which is exactly why he is being given this award. People do see what you do, and we are so thankful to have you in our community."

After accepting the award, Rafael thanked the Chamber, but then spoke more about the community and his employees at Truck Sales & Service in Midvale than himself. Rafael is president of the family-owned company that has been in business since 1933.

As for her award, Edwards said she prefers working in the background to do all she can "to make our Twin Cities the best community in which to live, work and play."

She said she became involved in Dennison after talking with then Mayor Roger Dominick. She eventually attended some meetings in his place, including the Twin City Chamber Board of Directors meetings. When the position of Executive Director became available, she submitted her resume "with Roger’s blessing and confession that he would have told (me) to do so if (I) hadn’t and 16 years later, here I am still."

"I am truly humbled to have been given this great honor," Edwards said. "But I didn’t get here alone. I have had many mentors and friends pushing me along the way, especially my husband, who has allowed me to plan vacations to check out other Chambers of Commerce, and the many wonderful friends I have gained through the Chamber. And, to all who have served on the Chamber board, you’ve all played a very important role in helping me succeed, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart."

The Chamber's award honoring a person or persons who demonstrate acts of heroism recognized Bud Shaw and Vincent Santaiello.

Last November, Crystal Roup was driving her car on Indian Hill Road when she wrecked and she was trapped inside her burning car. Shaw and Santaniello heard the crash and went outside their respective homes to investigate. "When they saw Ms. Roup trapped in her vehicle, they sprang into action. With no regard for their own safety, they braved the wreckage and flames to pull her to safety," Edwards said.

For the first time, the Chamber presented an Employee of the Year award "given to an employee who has provided exceptional customer care. The employee's business must be a Twin City Chamber member, and the employee can't be in a managerial or supervisory role." Robert Stull, a grocery carry out employee at Mako’s Market & Pharmacy received the award. Nominator Doug Ross called Stull a “Shining Star.” "Always smiling and cheerful, he just makes your day brighter!... he will tell you it is HIS pleasure to help you!"

Another first time award is the Golden Apple, which goes to an employee of Claymont, Indian Valley, Tuscarawas Central Catholic or Buckeye Career Center who is not in an educator role. Recognized was Phyllis Willison, who is the cafeteria director at Buckeye Career Center, where she has been employed for more than 30 years. "Think about that for a moment," Edwards said. "I know what it was like trying to please three teenagers — and she has does it for hundreds of kids, for over 30 years. And, she’s still smiling."

Juston Stutz, owner of Chillaxin’ n Waxin,' was honored as Business of the Year. Stutz recalled his father’s words, "Look out that window. Nothing is coming to you. You have to go after it.” Edwards said, "Starting with a shop vac, a scrub brush, a bucket for hot water and a blow dryer, he has built his business up one of the best vehicle detailing businesses in the area... It’s almost hard to believe he's only been in business one year."

Employees at the gift shop at Twin City Pharmacy were recognized with the Community Contribution award, which goes to "a group, business or individual who has gone above and beyond to make our community a better place to live, work and visit." Edwards said they treat people like friends instead of customers, even notifying people about new items that they would like, plus they provide free gift wrapping. Recognized were: Marcia Bryan, Desirrae Spinell, Michele Gwin, Elaine Zurcher, Brian Hillyer, Danielle Tedesco and Donna Best.

Rod Hasseman of Buckeye Career Center was honored as Educator of the Year. After 30 years in direct sales, he decided he wanted to teach. "He was nominated by a former student — what higher praise can there be than to know you have made such an impact on a young person’s life that they want you to be recognized," Edwards said. "Many times he will get to his classroom in the morning to find students (who aren’t in his class until later in the day) waiting outside his room. They know... that Mr. Hasseman is always available to lend advice. Something that, sadly, many kids don’t get at home these days."

The Chamber awarded $250 scholarships sponsored, respectively, by First National Bank of Dennison; Dover-Phila Federal Credit Union; Claymont Health & Rehab Center; and Truck Sales & Service.

Receiving the scholarships were: Richie Johns of Claymont; Malayda Janvrin of Buckeye Career Center; Jenna Kanter of Indian Valley; and Maggie Dominick of Tuscarawas Central Catholic.

A $250 scholarship sponsored by DJ’s Welding & Fabrication goes to a student in a trade program to assist in purchasing needed tools of their trade. This year’s recipient is Destiny Baker in the Cosmetology program at Buckeye Career Center.

Reach Lee at 330-364-8403 or

On Twitter: @lmorrisonTR