The award will be presented along with four Awards of Appreciation on Wednesday, Nov. 5, at the Canton Regional Chamber’s Community Salute Awards dinner, held at The University Center – Kent State University at Stark. Tickets are available online for $50 at CantonChamber.org or by calling (330) 458-2070.
Community Salute Award of Appreciation winners include: Jeffrey Dreyer, president, Canton Financial, Early Childhood Resource Center, Kent State University at Stark, and Robert L. Leibensperger, retired COO and President-Bearings, The Timken Company. A Special Award of Appreciation will be presented to Steven J. Katz, senior vice president, Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Sponsors of this year’s Community Salute Awards (to date) include: ArtsinStark, Aultman, DeHoff Development Company, Gasser Jewelers, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Pro Football Hall of Fame, The Repository, Solmet Technologies, and The Timken Company.
ABOUT THE HONOREES
Award of Merit
Canton native Joseph R. Halter, Jr., has been an active business and community leader for nearly 30 years. In addition to founding and leading Canton-based Solmet Technologies, Inc., he has committed much of his time to strengthening this community through his leadership and dedicated involvement. His service with numerous organizations truly imbodies the spirit of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s highest award, the Community Salute Award of Merit.
Halter is founding partner, president, and chief executive officer of Solmet Technologies, Inc., a local manufacturer of commercial open-die steel forgings serving the energy, fluid power, transportation, and metals fields which has been in operation since 1985. With a prime location in the Utica shale play, Solmet forges many of the parts used by oil and gas drillers in Ohio, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania.
Halter has long been active in many Canton-area organizations. He has held numerous leadership roles, including service as Board of Trustees member and chair for the Stark County Arts Council, Arts in Stark, and Board of Trustees member for Goodwill Industries of East Central Ohio.
He is currently a member of the Aultman Health Foundation, Rotary Club of Canton and the Stark Development Board, having served each organization’s Board of Trustees as vice chair, president and chairman, respectively, and is Board of Trustee member for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and Pro Football Hall of Fame. Halter is also a member of Stark Community Foundation’s Capital Campaigns Committee.
In 2013, he was appointed by Gov. John Kasich to serve on the Board of Directors for Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). In the same year, he also served as General Chairman of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival, a volunteer position that helps lead 26 separate committees and provide oversight of the massive two-and-half-week festival.
Halter is a member of Brookside Country Club and Christ Presbyterian Church. A graduate of Ohio University, he currently resides with his wife, Nancy Cumler Halter, in Stark County. They have two grown children, Matt and Joseph, and two grandchildren.
Halter was nominated by Vicky Sterling, president of Pinnacle Press.
Awards of Appreciation
Jeffrey Dreyer is receiving an Award of Appreciation for enhancing the welfare of Stark County citizens through outstanding philanthropy to the community and its causes.
Dreyer’s five nominations revealed tireless dedication to developing the downtown arts community and many years of board service for numerous organizations. He has used his knowledge and expertise in finance and marketing to assist local artists with their financial strategies. He has also served as president of the Red Ribbon Connection, an organization that provided education, awareness and hope for the local HIV community.
Dreyer is a third-generation Cantonian. He attended Canton Country Day School and Glen Oak High School, and two years at Indiana University. After graduating from Kent State University, he returned to Canton and immediately became involved in the community.
His grandfathers, Leonard Steinberg and Ben Dreyer, as well as his father, Mark Dreyer, ran Canton-area businesses. Jeffrey Dreyer is continuing that tradition by being the 3rd generation to run Canton Financial. During his 47 years in Canton, he has served on the boards of many organizations (and helped fundraise for many more) including:
Friends of The Canton Ballet, Quest Alcohol & Drug Recovery Services, American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association, The Alzheimer’s Association, The Canton Preservation Society, The Red Ribbon Connection, Canton Credit Bureau, Canton Jewish Community Federation, Temple Israel Brotherhood, and Region 4 HIV Prevention and Education Planning Advisory Group.
Dreyer was nominated by Su Nimon, owner of Journey Art Gallery; Joy Dougan, public health nurse at Canton City Health Department; Judi Krew, owner of Snarky Art; Diane Thompson, director of nursing at Canton City Health Department; Pamela Gibbs, health services coordinator at Canton City Health Department.
The Early Childhood Resource Center is receiving an Award of Appreciation for enhancing the welfare of Stark County citizens for outstanding success in service.
In 2000, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton established the Early Childhood Resource Center (ECRC) to provide high-quality education, resources, support, and advocacy for early childhood professionals and families with young children.
The ECRC offers a wide spectrum of resources that are found nowhere else in our region. By supporting both educators and families, the ECRC’s multi-faceted system of support helps young children thrive, both educationally and developmentally, as they grow to become the future of our community.
For families, the ECRC offers educational family programming and parenting education, both in its Cleveland Avenue facility and throughout the impoverished neighborhoods that need these resources the most.
For educators, the ECRC offers a wide variety of professional development opportunities and works directly with early learning centers to help them build strong relationships with families.
The ECRC works collaboratively, both locally and with state agencies and initiatives, to coordinate and develop training courses, disseminate information, and clarify requirements to ensure that educators have the tools and resources they need to work effectively with young children.
In 2012, Stark Education Partnership evaluated the ECRC’s impact on Stark County and concluded that the ECRC conservatively returns nearly $1,000,000 annually in direct benefits to the Stark County early childhood community.
The ECRC’s highly collaborative approach has established it as the cornerstone of the local early education and care community. It partners with a multitude of organizations and agencies that include the Canton City School District, the court system, the Department of Job and Family Services, Community Services, Help Me Grow, the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Stark County, and the Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority, among many others.
The Early Childhood Resource Center was nominated by Bradley Belden, board chair for the ECRC and director-support services at Belden Brick.
Kent State University at Stark is receiving an Award of Appreciation for enhancing the welfare of Stark County citizens through outstanding philanthropy to the community and its causes.
Kent State University at Stark serves the community far beyond its education programming. From use of its campus for community events like free one-day Melanoma screenings to hosting the Balloon Classic Invitation/Jackson-Belden Food Fest to its free concert and lecture series, KSU-Stark is truly the community’s campus.
Kent State University at Stark is the largest regional campus of Kent State University, serving more than 11,000 students each year, comprised of 6,600 enrolled in academic coursework and 4,500 enrolled in professional development courses, and offering bachelor’s, master’s and associate degrees, as well as the opportunity to begin coursework in the more than 250 bachelor’s degrees at Kent State University.
The only public university in Stark County, Kent State Stark is nestled on a beautiful, 200-acre campus in Jackson Township. The University Center, which houses The Corporate University and the Small Business Development Center, is accredited under the stringent guidelines of the International Association of Conference Centers.
Combining a top-quality major university with a community-oriented college, Kent State Stark serves our region as a key intellectual resource, providing access to academic, economic and cultural advancement through excellence in teaching and learning.
Kent State University at Stark was nominated by Jim Porter, publisher of The Repository/Gatehouse Ohio Media, and Dr. John Humphrey, executive director, North Canton Medical Foundation.
Robert L. Leibensperger is receiving an Award of Appreciation for initiating and completing a short-term activity resulting in widespread benefits to the community.
Leibensperger, a longtime Canton Symphony Orchestra board member, spearheaded the Capital Campaign to build the Zimmermann Symphony Center and provide a permanent home for the Canton Symphony Orchestra.
Born near Allentown, Pennsylvania, he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University in 1960 and a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Akron University in 1970. He started his career with The Timken Company in 1960 as a Sales Engineer but spent most of his career on the technical side of the business, eventually serving as VP Technology for 10 years. He retired in 2000 as Chief Operating Officer of the Timken Company and President-Bearings.
Leibensperger’s present community volunteer activities include board positions for the Canton Symphony Orchestra (Past Chairman), McKinley Presidential Library and Museum (Secretary), Stark Community Foundation Capital Campaigns Committee, Stark County Schools’ Business Advisory Council, Akron University’s Engineering Dean’s Advancement Council and Mechanical Engineering Advisory Council (Past Chairman), Kent State Stark Advisory Councils, Church Council member at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (Past President) and President of the Nobles Pond Homeowners’ Association.
His hobbies are antique cars, woodworking, industrial history and Leibensperger genealogy. He and Donna, his wife of 54 years, live in Jackson Township. Their son Kurt and his wife, Pam, live in Green with grandchildren Megan, Andrew, and Kristen.
Leibensperger was nominated by Michelle Mullaly, executive director of the Canton Symphony Orchestra.
Steven J. Katz is receiving a Special Award of Appreciation for his outstanding service to the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, the city of Canton, and the local business community. In January 2015, Katz plans to retire from the Canton Regional Chamber, after nearly 33 years of employment.
Katz has served as senior vice president of the Canton Regional Chamber for nine years. His primary responsibilities include economic development, government affairs, human resources and he works closely with the president and CEO regarding internal operations. He also oversees some aspects of events, finance and information systems for the Chamber. Katz joined the Chamber in 1982 as manager of Government Affairs and has also served as vice president of Economic Development and Government Affairs.
Katz graduated from Kent State University with a master’s degree in public administration. He is a member of the Stark Labor Management Council, and sits on the board of Employment Source, Canton Community Improvement Corporation and the Stark Development Board Finance Corporation. He and his wife, Karyn, have two children, Elizabeth and Eric.Katz was nominated by Kelly Haer, business manager of OhioMeansJobs.