Don’s & Sons Excavating Receives Syracuse Chamber Award

Don’s and Sons Excavating received the “Chamber Award” Tuesday evening from the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce.
Each year, during the organization’s  Annual Awards Banquet at the Syracuse Community Center, the Chamber Award honors a Syracuse-area business for achievement and service to community. Don’s and Sons is in its 51st year of business. On hand to accept the award was Don McCulloch, his sons Todd and Dan and other family members.
The program for the evening – following a social hour and dinner catered by Sleepy Owl Supper Club – began with a report from outgoing chamber board President Richard Owen, of Owen Family Funeral Homes.
Owen noted that the chamber set a record in 2014, passing 200 members for the first time. He reported on programs and events conducted by the chamber including coffee and connections, business after hours, meet the candidates night, the Maxwelton golf outing, July 4 parade, fall harvest festival, holiday magic and mistletoe market, among others.
He briefly outlined the role of the educational council, which meets monthly and is aimed at promoting youth-oriented programs. He spoke about a new committee launched this year, the Young Entrepreneurs’ Association of Syracuse. YEA’s is a group dedicated to improving business opportunities for those under age 40. He also noted a suicide prevention program sponsored by the chamber in conjunction with Bowen Center and the Syracuse Police Department.
Chamber Director Tammy Cotton recognized her board of directors and noted that Tuesday’s banquet boasted the highest number of attendees ever. She congratulated two new businesses that opened in Syracuse in 2014, Burke’s Repo Outlet, a seller of used Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and West Main Tavern, an upscale downtown restaurant.
Cotton explained new features on the Chamber website will allow members to log in and update their own information as well as make additions to the “Hot Deals” and “Help Wanted” sections. She talked about the Winterfest event this weekend that will include snowmobile drags, a 5K run in the snow, a polar plunge with live entertainment at Oakwood Resort and several other events.
She introduced her assistant director, Kristi Martin, who was hired Dec. 1. Martin spoke about the YEA’s program and how young entrepreneurs –  such as those involved with Babes and Combs and Bliss Boutique downtown – have become involved.
Chip Erwin, of Sleepy Owl, spoke about the chamber ambassador program where chamber board members visit local businesses to determine how the chamber can improve its services.
Featured speaker for the evening was Wawasee High School Principal Mike Schmidt. Schmidt introduced Assistant Principal Vince Beasley and Internship coordinator Trish Miller. He then spoke about the internship program and how beneficial he believes it is for his students. He said more than 80 businesses are involved in the program. 
“I want to see 75 percent of these kids get an internship,” Schmitt said. “ I want my students to go out in the community, to be a part of the community.”
Other award winners during the event were: West Main Tavern, outstanding new business; Absolutely Gifts, outstanding retail business; Pat’s Chicago Dogs, outstanding restaurant; Syracuse Rotary, outstanding service organization; Tom Tuttle, Team Tuttle Mortgage LLC, outstanding business professional; Resia Rinker, outstanding volunteerism; Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, outstanding non-profit; Bass Audiology, outstanding service award; Town of Syracuse, beautification award; Mike Schmidt, outstanding education professional; Rinker Foundation, philanthropy award; and Beyond Landscaping, entrepreneur of the year.
Cotton recognized outgoing board members Dan Buchman, Tom Tuttle and Richard Owen, who completed six-year terms. Owen served as board president for the past two years.
Chamber board members for 2015 are: Norene Black, Key Bank; Father Larry Biller, All Saints Episcopal Church; Jack Birch, Birch Law Firm; Kathy Boyts, Creative Fish Art Gallery; Tony Ciriello, Syracuse police chief; Chip Erwin, Sleepy Owl; Steve Fields, Oakwood Resort; Sylvia Gargett, Northern Lakes Insurance; Chad Jonsson, Syracuse Parks Department; Beth Kroes, Edward Jones and Associates; Erick Leffler, Dynamic Spine; Susan Littlefield, The Papers Inc.; Dave Mayer, individual; Matt Schwartz, Edward Jones and Associates; Tricia Small, Teghtmeyer Ace Hardware; and Jery Yoder, Lake City Bank.

(Story By The Times Union)