Salem Chamber of Commerce celebrates 75th Annual Meeting

Captains Angelica and Gene Spence of the Salvation Army Salem Corps, Non-Profit of the Year.

SALEM — Surviving and thriving appeared to be the theme as the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 75th Annual Meeting Wednesday, live and in person after the tumult of 2020.

That idea also resonated in the speeches of Outstanding Citizen of the Year Shane Franks, Small Business of the Year Salem Computer Center owner Frank Zamarelli, Large Business of the Year Salem Giant Eagle owner Mark Siegal and Non-Profit of the Year Salem Salvation Army Captains Angelica and Gene Spence.

All the honorees expressed their humble appreciation, but credited all their successes to the Salem area community, their customers, co-workers, employees, fellow church members and the chamber members in the ballroom at the Salem Golf Club.

“It takes a whole community together to really maintain and we’re honored and humbled to be a part of that,” Captain Angelica Spence said.

Her husband, Captain Gene Spence, announced that the Salvation Army red kettle campaign kicks off Saturday, so bells will be ringing.

Mark Siegal, owner of Salem Giant Eagle, Large Business of the Year.

The non-profit relies on those funds to help people throughout the entire year with food and utilities assistance, a free after school program where young people can receive a meal and homework help, a troops program for boys and girls, music and arts programs, weekly hot meals to anyone, men’s and women’s fellowship programs, seasonal assistance for families with holiday meal boxes, Angel Tree, back to school supplies and summer camp and emergency disaster assistance for those calls in the middle of the night to help a family burned out of their home.

The Salvation Army networks with other agencies, participates in community events such as the Fourth of July Celebration and the recent Trail of Treats and credits volunteers, donors, church and advisory board members with enabling their mission of service — a mission that began in Salem in 1885.

“We appreciate and thank every one of you for helping us do what we do,” Captain Gene Spence said.

Franks, a 1973 Salem High School graduate, previously owned a coffee vending company and worked as a juvenile detention officer before joining the Salem Parks & Recreation Department in 2013 as recreation supervisor. In 2019, he was named parks director and has had a lot of involvement in the community through coaching, the summer concerts committee, Salem Tourism Board, chamber board, Salem Rotary board and the list continues.

He said his first reaction when told he was the Outstanding Citizen of the Year was shock.

Frank Zamarelli, owner of Salem Computer Center, Small Business of the Year.

“I did not expect this, but I’m extremely honored and humbled,” he said.

Accompanied by his mom, Pat, he said he does what he does because “I just enjoy serving the citizens of Salem. I was born and raised in this town and I want to be able to give back.”

At the top of his list of reasons for success were the people he works with at the Salem Parks & Recreation Department. He introduced them all, along with the parks commission members, and said “the biggest reason I’m standing up here is because of you guys.”

He also said he’s had the good luck and fortune to be supported by so many members of the community, organizations and outstanding people.

“This community is chock full of them. I love Salem,” Franks said.

Salem Parks Director Shane Franks, Outstanding Citizen of the Year.

Zamarelli, who opened Salem Computer Center on Jan. 5, 1988, recalled the story of two men who entered his shop when he started. One was Al Cleveland, who signed him up immediately as a chamber member, and the other was Dan Ferrier, then publisher of the Salem News, who invited him to join Salem Rotary. The rest he said is history.

His business will celebrate 35 years in June 2022 and has become a staple in the community, stepping up with a remote service called SCC Screen Connect when the pandemic hit so people could work from home and connect to their work computer and during the Super Cruise and other events hosting a free Quaker WiFi.

The business has five employees working in sales and technical support and an in-house web designer and has continued expanding since the beginning, offering the only full-service computer store in Columbiana County.

Zamarelli was thankful for the support of the community and everyone who’s ever worked for the shop. He offered up a favorite quote about how as much as people want to plan their lives, little surprises come up that can enrich them.

“I have enjoyed all the surprises both expected and unexpected,” he said.

Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation President George W.S. Hays talks about the successes of 2021.

Siegal followed in the footsteps of his parents, Arnie and Sally, who opened the former Salem Foodland in the Salem Plaza in May 1982, converting to Giant Eagle in 1987, moving across the street to Eastgate Plaza in 1992, and expanding in 2002 and again in 2013. Siegal joined the business in 1995 and has remained in charge since.

He was accompanied by four longtime employees with a combined 140 years experience in the grocery business at the Siegal stores, including office managers Lisa Johnson and Chris Andric, deli manager Debbie Heverly and assistant store manager Brian Metz.

He said he couldn’t be prouder of their loyalty to the store and he thanked the entire Salem Giant Eagle team for showing up day after day to serve the community, especially after last year and this past year dealing with the pandemic.

Siegal said they’ve been through a lot of changes, a snowstorm, roof leaks, a fire, a tornado, but nothing could have prepared them for what they’ve been through in the last year. They had to quickly adjust to a new world.

“Thank you to the chamber and the community for supporting the business all these years, it’s a wonderful community to be part of,” he said.

Salem Area Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Christopher conducts business at the annual chamber meeting.

The chamber also honored winning eateries from the Downtown Dining Experience held in September: Ezios, Favorite Food; Kast Iron Soda Works, Best Sweet; and Coaches, Favorite Stop, Best Savory and Best Presentation.

Outgoing 2021 board members recognized were treasurer Vicki Hall, past president Janice Jasinski, Tom Baker and Jamie Benner. New chamber directors elected for 2022 included Shelley Bergman, Eric Ehrenberg, Michael McCulloch, Dave Russell, Michael Santillo and Anthony Shivers.

During the meeting, chamber Executive Director Lori Jewell, President Jeff Christopher and chamber Foundation President George W.S. Hays talked about the past year and the accomplishments once the chamber could begin in-person events again. Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague congratulated the chamber for its milestone 75th annual meeting with a proclamation.

Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague issued a proclamation honoring the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce on its 75th Annual Meeting held Wednesday. Pictured from left are chamber Executive Director Lori Jewell, chamber Treasurer Vicki Hall, Ohio Treasurer Public Affairs Liaison Cody Pettit, chamber President Jeff Christopher, chamber Past President Janice Jasinski, chamber 1st Vice President Dr. Amanda Kenney and chamber Administrative Assistant Laurie Anderson.

Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lori Jewell talks during the chamber’s Annual Meeting Wednesday.

The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce honored its 2021 Outstanding Citizen of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Large Business of the Year and Non-Profit of the Year during its 75th annual meeting Wednesday at Salem Golf Club. Honorees from left included Outstanding Citizen of the Year Shane Franks, who serves as Salem’s parks director, Small Business of the Year Salem Computer Center represented by owner Frank Zamarelli, Captains Angelica and Gene Spence of the Non-Profit of the Year Salvation Army Salem Corps and Large Business of the Year Salem Giant Eagle represented by owner Mark Siegal.

Representatives of eateries chosen as this year’s Downtown Dining Experience favorites include from left: Erich Henkel of Ezios, Favorite Food; Lesley Kline of Kast Iron Soda Works, Best Sweet; Kayla Youska of Coaches, Favorite Stop, Best Savory and Best Presentation. Winners were selected through online voting by attendees and announced at the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting.


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