Citizen, Student and Business of the Year awards presented at annual ceremony

REED CITY — Dozens of area residents came together Thursday to celebrate the contributions of individuals and businesses to the Reed City community.

The Reed City Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the 53rd annual Michigan Week Dinner at Reed City High School to honor the 2016 Citizen, Student and Business of the year.

“This is to award those individuals in our community who do good things for the community,” said Chastity Eads, chamber director.  “It’s important to honor and support those who go the extra mile in a community to do good.”

Citizen of the Year Amy Keller said she doesn’t feel like she deserves to be person of the year, but is honored nonetheless. Keller worked as an optometrist in Reed City for more than 20 years, starting her own business – which is now run by Erica Watson.

“The community is what made me,” Keller said. “I knew when I was 15 years old I wanted to be an optometrist and practice right here. It worked out and the community was supportive. I was able to set up practice here and it was a wonderful thing.”

“I’m very excited. I knew she could do it,” said Kathryn Keller, Amy’s daughter. “I’m proud of my mom because of how much perseverance she has.”

Cristina Decator was really excited to be chosen as the 2016 Student of the Year. Decator is a senior at Reed City High School and was selecting for her kind and courteous nature and commitment to helping others. She will be embarking on her sixth mission trip with St. Phillip Neri church this June.

“I feel great. I didn’t expect it at all. I’m very surprised,” she said.

Decator plans to head to Oakland University in the fall to study nursing, but she said she’ll be sure to return to her hometown soon.

“I like how close the community in Reed City is, everybody kind of knows everybody here,” she said.

The 2016 winner for business of the year is LeBaron Financial Group, which is celebrating 45 years of doing business in Reed City this year. The award was presented to father-son pair Jon and Richard LeBaron.

“Our business has been around almost as long as the chamber,” Jon said. “It’s nice to share this moment with them. We appreciate everything the community has done for us over the years and we look forward to serving the community for many, many more.”

“It’s nice to have the community acknowledge you,” Richard said. “I like this community because it’s small, there’s a slower pace. I spent enough time where it’s higher-pace; it’s nice to be more laid-back.”