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The Greater Fennville Chamber of Commerce Awards Business of the Year and Citizen of the Year
Posted: Feb 8, 2012

The Greater Fennville Chamber of Commerce held it’s annual Member Banquet January 28, 2012.  The evening’s events were held at Fenn Valley Winery, with blues music provided by Steve “Doc” Yankee and food catered by Salt of the Earth.  Among socializing, reflecting and looking ahead to the coming year, the Chamber presented two awards during the banquet.  The Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year 2011 was awarded to Salt of the Earth Rustic American Eatery and Bakery, and the 2011 Robert Hutchinson Outstanding Citizen Award went to Al LaShell.

Co-owners, Mark Schrock and Steve Darpel described Salt of the Earth Rustic American Eatery and Bakery as a “farm to fork” dining experience. The business has passionately supported the greater Fennville agricultural community, by choosing to buy their food from responsible local sources. They have been heavily vested in the theory that when their dollars stay in town, the entire community benefits. It is easy to see how this great restaurant has helped put Fennville on the map by making the restaurant a tourist destination. The restaurant and staff have encouraged other businesses to open and have supported their growth. In the past year Salt of the Earth has been instrumental in giving their support to many events in the community. They have opened their doors on days they may not be normally open to host Chamber after-hours gatherings, have sponsored many local events and are always quick to donate items, gift certificates and their time for the greater good of the Fennville area. Without their support and dedication, the community would not be the same! Stop in the restaurant to see for yourself why Salt of the Earth was voted the Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year! 

In addition to his day job photographing and documenting the Fennville community’s sports teams and school life, Al LaShell is the chairman of the Downtown Development Authority.  He has worked tirelessly to make the downtown a better place for all community members including, but not limited to tourists, locals, business owners, and non-profit groups. He has volunteered his time for long hours to gather data, reach out to other organizations, plan, organize, dream and make things happen for the greater good of the Fennville area. This year much of his hard work has paid off. With the help of his team, Fennville has seen the Streetscape Project come to a close, a new Farmer’s Market open, the purchase of the old Short Stop building (now called the 220 Building) for future use as a community center. An Amtrak stop and the parking lot improvements on the corner of Main and Maple are also examples of his hard work and dedication to the future of Fennville. When asked about the area, LaShell responded, “Fennville has a lot of great things coming up, it’s exciting to be a part of!”  With his hard work and dedication to the community, there is no mistaking that Al LaShell is deserving of the Outstanding Citizen Award. 


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