Better business: Owen Co. Chamber of Commerce honors local business leaders and teacher at annual banquet

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By Molly Haines

The Owen County Chamber of Commerce held its 13th annual meeting Monday, with awards given to an outstanding business and businessperson.
Owen Electric Cooperative, Inc., whose business began in 1937 as Owen County Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation (RECC) was awarded this year’s Outstanding Business of the Year.
Owen Electric President and CEO Mark Stallons accepted the award.
“(Owen Electric) has always been a leader with a purpose to improve the quality of life, its been that way from the start,” Stallons said. “I’m humbled and honored to accept this on behalf of Owen Electric.”
RECC held its first meeting in 1937, which was attended by five men who served as Owen Electric’s first board of directors and were its only members.
In January 1938 the first of RECC’s lines were energized and later that year the board of directors voted to include Grant and Gallatin County in the cooperative’s service area and later Pendleton County.
By 1939, the service area also included Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Carroll and Scott counties.
Today Owen Electric serves more than 57,000 members in nine counties.
Larry Ayres, owner of Ayres Family Orchard, was awarded Outstanding Business Person of the Year.
Dave Jones, a member of the chamber’s board of directors, presented Ayres with the award.
“From a 1,400 acre orchard he has supplied fresh and wholesome fruits to all of Owen County,” Jones said. “His family says (Ayres) is the hardest working man they’ve ever known.”
Ayres Family Orchard was established in 1983 and Ayres grows over 40 varieties of apples, peaches, plums and blackberries.
“I’ve lived here all of my life and I couldn’t ask for a better place to live and to work,” Ayres said. “This is a great honor.”
Billie Jo Ashcraft, who taught Owen County students for 29 years, was presented the “Wall of Fame” award, which is given to a retired Owen County educator each year.
Ray Corns gave the keynote address this year.
Corns served as Franklin County’s commonwealth attorney from 1975-1982 and was a circuit court judge in Franklin County from 1983-1990.
Corns had some advice for members of the chamber and Owen County’s business leaders.
“When you get up in the morning tell yourself, ‘I live in Owenton, Kentucky and Owenton, Kentucky is the greatest city on Earth because from Owenton, Kentucky, you can go anywhere in the world.’”