Community leader Harry Griffith was honored as the 2019 Citizen of the Year at the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner on Jan. 23 at Crystal Gardens. His daughter, Carol Griffith, the 2018 Citizen of the Year, made the announcement after recounting anecdotes and achievements in Harry Griffith’s life.
Harry Griffith is the broker/owner of Crandall Realty, established in Howell in 1924. He has received many awards including the Livingston County Realtor of the Year in 1963 and 1976 and Realtor Active in Politics in 1996 from the Michigan Association of Realtors. In addition, he is past president of the Livingston County Association of Realtors, director and major donor for the preservation of private property rights.
Griffith has been a Howell Rotary member since 1955; was past president in 1959, and a Paul Harris Fellow recipient. He has served the community in many ways including past chairman of the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce; past director and vice chairman of the board of 1st National Bank; Salvation Army advisory board emeritus; and current member of Livingston County Farmers Club. He also served in the United States Air Force and ROTC. Griffith is a retired captain of the United States Air Force Reserves and was instrumental in forming and growing the Livingston County Civil Air Patrol.
Harry and his wife, Mary, have been married for 67 years and live in Genoa Township. They have two children, Scott and Carol Griffith. Harry loves to fly fish and golf. He is a graduate of Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in business and real estate. Musically, he loves the MSU fight song
The annual Citizen of the Year Award has been presented by the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce since 1957. The award winner is selected by a committee of previous winners and is a closely-guarded secret until the announcement at the annual dinner.
The annual dinner theme was Better Together. Presenting sponsors were Saint Joseph Mercy Livingston and Brighton Ford. First National Bank was the Awards Sponsor, the Hospitality Sponsor was Ascension, and Beauchamp was the Celebration Sponsor.
Other awards presented
The Howell Area Chamber of Commerce presented eight other awards, and recognized the accomplishments of those people and organizations that have made exceptional contributions.
Jessica Bergum of LACASA received the Young Professional Award, which recognizes an individual who is setting the pace and leading the way for the next generation of leaders.
Bergum is a dedicated gate captain at the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest, entertainment co-chair at the Fantasy of Lights, co-chair of the Writing Future Chapters Fantasy of Lights BBQ Fundraiser, and active member of the Howell Young Professionals. In addition to volunteering, she is a regular attendee at many chamber programs and activities.
The Chamber Spirit Award was presented to Trish Phelps of Citizens Insurance. The Chamber Spirit award recognizes an individual with outstanding involvement in Howell chamber activities, committees and programs.
Phelps is an advocate and bridgebuilder and rises to the occasion. She serves as the vice-chair of the Fantasy of Lights committee, co-chair of the Writing Future Chapters Fantasy of Lights BBQ Fundraiser and co-chair of the information booth at the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest. Phelps brings innovative ideas to the table to improve events and serves with passion and enthusiasm while cheering on other committee members.
Uptown Coffee in downtown Howell received the Community Improvement Award in recognition for its efforts in significantly enhancing and contributing to the betterment of the community by adding to its overall visual appearance. Owner Lorna Brennan worked passionately and diligently to restore one of the main corners of the city. Last fall, a ribbon-cutting and re-grand opening ceremony was held for the entire community to celebrate the façade improvement and restoration.
Game Changer Awards went to Brandon Krugh, State Farm Insurance, and April Dertian, The Salvation Army of Livingston County. The Game Changer Award recognizes a business or individual who displays innovative planning or implementation of a project or program contributing to the overall success of the chamber and the community.
Both Krugh and Dertian have worked together and re-vamped the Howell Young Professionals (HYP) group. They co-chaired and led the HYP committee in establishing its mission of offering opportunities for young professionals to connect, develop, and grow personally and professionally by engaging in business and community growth. Their innovative ideas and hard work evolved into bi-monthly networking and educational workshops. HYP partnered with the Fantasy of Lights to raise funds and create the first-ever Fantasy of Lights Writing Future Chapters Fundraiser BBQ that helped connect young professionals to the community.
Howell Public Schools received the new Howell Chamber Hall of Famer Award, which recognizes an organization, business or individual that has significantly contributed to the long-term success of the chamber.
Howell Public Schools has been a true partner and chamber supporter. In 2020, the district and chamber marks the 36th year of working together on the chamber’s largest event: the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest. That’s not the only chamber event they support. Other partnership initiatives include the Livingston County Home Show, representation on several Howell chamber committees, involvement in the Fantasy of Lights including marching bands and the illuminated Highlander Reading Express in the parade that complemented the BOOK IT to Howell! theme this year.
The State Street Project received the Community Collaboration Award, which recognizes businesses, organizations, and individuals that have partnered for increased results that benefit the overall well-being of the community.
The project has been over a decade in the making and is a phenomenal collaboration between many entities including the City of Howell, Howell Main Street and DDA, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Carter Consulting, Department of Housing and Urban Development and several businesses. The collaboration led to a revitalized event platform in the heart of the city. A ribbon cutting celebration late last fall re-opened this popular space for public use including Howell’s Sunday Farmers’ Market.
Ambassador of the Year was Lee Ann Minto, Trillium Staffing Solutions. Minto has done an outstanding job demonstrating all of the best qualities of the Howell chamber’s ambassador program. She is outgoing, projects a positive attitude and steps up when needed. She has worked at Trillium Staffing Solutions for more than 17 years.