Chamber Awards Efforts at Dinner
By Paul Overeiner – Staff Writer
January 26, 2001
It began not with a bang but a whistle.
That’s how Susan Milhoan called to order the crowd milling about inside the cavernous National Guard Armory when the Greater Jackson Chamber of Commerce held its 92nd annual banquet and awards ceremony Thursday night.
About 600 gathered for the event, which featured a sit-down dinner and a genuinely humorous stand-up comic, Brad Upton.
The Citizen Patriot’s Citizen of the Year, Distinguished Citizens and Youth Citizen of the Year were honored and the chamber gave out business awards and installed new officers for its 93rd year of operation.
Milhoan, president of the chamber, challenged the audience to envision a use for the building, which in the 1800s was home to convicts. The National Guard is vacating the former prison and the structure and surrounding property has been designated a state “Renaissance Zone” to attract new economic development.
“Many of you have not seen the inside of this historic building or haven’t visited for years,” Milhoan said. “In the next couple years, this facility will become available to the community.”
Nearly every politician of local import took time to speak, including U.S. Rep. Nick Smith, state representatives Clark Bisbee and Mickey Mortimer, and Robert Lacinski, newly elected chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.
“Back in 1839 or 1834 when they brought the first group in here, I don’t think they had such an enjoyable meal.” Lacinski quipped.
For his part, Upton took jabs at everything and everyone, from President George W. Bush and Michigan State University to himself.
He noted that he was the same age as Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates.
“He’s the richest man in the world and I tell vasectomy jokes for a living,” Upton said. “In a prison.”
Aside from dinner and entertainment, the main focus of Thursday’s event was to recognize volunteers, businesses and community residents for their contributions and achievements in the Jackson area.
“These people have done some remarkable things and they deserve an audience,” Milhoan said.
This year’s awards and their recipients are:
2001 Small Business Person of the Year, John A. Campau, president and CEO of Comtronics, 315 Water Street.
“I’m moved by this and I’m humbled by this,” Campau told the crowd.
He thanked his parents, Philip and Temis Campau, for starting the business 40 years ago. Being able to work with them, he said, has been meaningful.
The award, presented by Allesandro DiNello, president of Flagstar Bank and the award’s sponsor, is designed to recognize a locally based business that exemplifies the best of small business in the community.
Comtronics provides security services for homes and businesses. Campau joined the staff full-time in 1986 and became president in May 1994.
Reprinted with permission from The Jackson Citizen Patriot
Copyright January 2001