GREENVILLE – The Darke County Chamber of Commerce welcomed Attorney General Mike DeWine as the guest speaker at its annual meeting on June 11. Awards were presented to Mike Williams, of the Winery at Versailles, and Gloria Keller-Brinley, of the KitchenAid Experience, as the Darke County Chamber and Darke County Visitor Bureau’s (DCVB) Citizens of the Year
Williams began his career as a wine maker, first as hobbyist and then as a full-time occupation. In 10 years, he was able to grow The Winery at Wilcox into one of the five largest in Pennsylvania. In 2002, Williams opened The Winery at Versailles and it quickly grew to be in the top 5% percent in production in Ohio.
Wine making is only a small part of the impact Williams has made on the community. He is a life changer, having mentored and trained his employees to be responsible, hard working valued members of the company and community. He has worked with ex-convicts to become skilled and useful members in the community. His patience and efforts have paid off with long-time employees that are now self-sufficient.
Upon receiving the award, Williams said, “This really is a shock…I certainly don’t feel I deserve this. There are so many people, a lot of them in this room, helping individuals.” He noted he grew up poor and it was one of the greatest privileges he ever had. “It taught me there are people in circumstances that are not of their own making that need a hand. So reach down, grab the next guy and give them an opportunity,” said Williams.
Keller-Brinley has been a longtime supporter of Darke County and has encouraged others to get involved in the promotion of tourism. Beginning in 1992, Kellery-Brinley started working with Whirlpool in the factory. In 2002, she began working at The KitchenAid Experience, eventually becoming the manager. Scott Hartings, treasurer of DCVB, said, “She really does represent Darke County very well and she represents KitchenAid very well.” Keller-Brinley thanked everyone for the honor. She said, “From the experiences of being around my father we always talked to people. He always told us to talk to people, tell them about the county, tell them about the people around here, share your passion. He had such a passion for this area. I want to accept this in honor of him.”
The Attorney General spoke about the efforts his office has taken to curtail drug abuse and changes at the Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI).
DeWine gave insight into the changing climate at the Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI). Under his direction, BCI has reduced the amount of time it takes to process evidence from 125 days to an average wait time of 22 days. They have also helped law enforcement agencies across the state process untested rape kits, some of which have gone untested for 20 years. The efforts have resulted in 4,000 kits tested so far with hits on 1 of 3 DNA samples. The process has been able to provide law enforcement with names of suspects, exonerate persons and put law enforcement agencies in touch with other agencies pursuing the same individual. Through this testing, Cuyahoga County has been able to indict over 100 people.
The Attorney General’s Office is also actively pursuing ways to curtail Ohio’s drug problem. During his term, over 40 doctors have been suspended for helping individuals abuse prescription drugs. He is also trying to better educate the public on heroin and the affect it is having on communities across the state. He congratulated the Chamber for taking a stand and beginning a grassroots effort to educate the public on the county’s drug problem.
Following his presentation, DeWine gave the oath of office to the Chamber’s newest officers and directors.
Mike Williams received the Darke County Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award at the Chamber’s annual meeting. Shown are Matt Aultman, Mike Henderson, Williams, Attorney General Mike DeWine, Tristan Weiss representing John Boehner, Lisa Hayes representing Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Gov. John Kasich, and Representative Jim Buchy.