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Fayette County Chamber awards city's 'shining lights'

Andy Yaryan speaks after being recognized as the 2019 Citizen of the Year at the Fayette County Chamber of CommerceAnnual Dinner and Awards Banquet on Tuesday.

By BOB HANSEN - bhansen@newsexaminer.com

Shining lights.

That’s what Andy Yaryan called all of the people nominated for Citizen of the Year. Near the beginning of the awards program at Tuesday’s Fayette County Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet, Yaryan said he had already agreed to be the master of ceremonies before reading that he’d been nominated for the Citizen of the Year award.

Referring to all of the nominees, along with those nominated for two other awards, Yaryan said, “You really are a shining light in the community because somebody thought enough of you to nominate you .... That should not go unrecognized.”

After Melissa Myers presented him with the Citizen of the Year trophy, Yaryan called it a blessing. Myers, the president and CEO of Union Savings and Loan Association, said the award goes annually to a person who demonstrates leadership in the community and is the Chamber’s highest award.

The crowd applauded loudly when Myers said the award would be presented to a young man who went away to college with the idea of coming back to live in Connersville.

After receiving the award, Yaryan said, “Giving back, whether it’s time, energy or money ... it’s something I really enjoy.”

Others nominated for Citizen of the Year included Carolyn Bunzendahl, civic activist and first president of Discover Connersville; Brad Colter, president of Historic Connersville Inc.; Tara Henry-Madden, active in Salvation Army, Crosspointe Bikers Church and other groups; Becky Marvel, community wellness coordinator for the Purdue Extension Service and active in many volunteer efforts; and Mike and Jenny Sparks, co-chairs of the Fayette County Bicentennial.

Other “shining lights” recognized during the meeting included Jason Graves, owner of CK Fasteners, the Small Business/Enterpreneur of the year, and the Fayette County Historical Museum, the Beautification Award.

Jim Weddle spoke about getting his career started in Connersville more than 40 years ago. He opened an office for Edward D. Jones Co. and, after seven years here, moved to company headquarters in St. Louis. He retired at the end of December as the company’s CEO, called managing partner. The firm is now called Edward Jones and has more than 17,000 offices.

Weddle recalled the city’s friendliness and acceptance for him and his wife, Stacey, saying the time here was “some of our best years.”

He also gave a short financial outlook, saying that the past several months have seen volatility in the financial markets. He expects that will continue, fueled partly by the 24-hour news cycle and energized by the internet.