Citizen of Year named at Chamber awards party

Mike Ashley speaks after receiving the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year award on Tuesday night at the Woodstock Community Theatre. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – “Usually I’m not lost for words,” a Tuxedo-clad Mike Ashley said while clutching his golden award for Citizen of the Year at the Woodstock Community Theatre on Tuesday evening.

Ashley, owner and director of Commonwealth Investigation Services, was awarded for his ongoing volunteer work, as well as the number and the passion of the nominations he received.

That evening, Ashley underscored the importance of volunteering.

“I encourage everybody to volunteer and get active, because that’s what we need. That’s what makes this world go round,” he said. “In Shenandoah County, we’ve been famous for that all of our lives. A lot of us out there put in a lot of time, and always have.”

The event was the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce’s most glamorous annual awards party to date, with community business leaders walking up the red carpet in tuxedos and cocktail dresses.

The party was held in the Woodstock Community Theatre and stylized after the Oscars; shimmering gold streamers lined the stage, with black and gold balloons bobbing gently on either end. It was not unlike an adult version of a high school gymnasium decked out for prom.

Other awards presented Tuesday evening were:

  • Nonprofit of the Year, to Shen-Paco Industries, a community-based organization that provides support and employment services to adults with disabilities.
  • Small Business of the Year, to Dutch Haven Assisted Living in Maurertown, which has been active in donating to the local community.
  • Large Business of the Year, to Bowman-Andros Products in Mount Jackson, which reported continued double-digit growth in its products sold throughout the United States.
  • The President’s Volunteer of the Year Award, to Jessica Neff, banking center manager for First Bank’s Woodstock locations.

The chamber also conducted administrative business Tuesday, approving seven new members to the board and approving updates to its by-laws.

Chris Boies, president of the chamber, also announced that the chamber’s membership grew to 350 businesses representing more than 9,000 employees. He also mentioned several of the chamber’s successes in 2017, notably the fact that the year’s Route 11 Yard Crawl saw over 46,000 vehicles pass through Middletown and Strasburg alone.

“All of this would not have been possible without the support of (the chamber’s sponsors),” Boies said. “Their support and financial resources allowed the chamber to realize the tremendous growth and visibility we experienced last year.”