Upcoming Chamber Events
- Ribbon Cutting: Beck Plant Haus 08/18/2022
- Ribbon Cutting: Artsy Hatter & Company 08/23/2022
- Pursuit of Excellence Business Success Series: Maximize the Impact of Your Digital Marketing 08/24/2022
Member of the Month Spotlight
Who would have thought that finding a sinkhole in a field would turn into one of Ohio's top tourist destinations? Celebrating a 125-year anniversary on August 17, that is exactly what Ohio Caverns has become and if you haven't visited "America's Most Colorful Caverns," located at 2210 State Route 245 E. in West Liberty, then you are missing out!
In August of 1897, a farm boy was investigating the disappearance of water into a sinkhole in a field and discovered a grouping of underground passageways. After digging down a few feet, he uncovered an opening to a cave that was formed out of soluble limestone bedrock. This cave, currently estimated to be approximately 400 million years old, likely started forming during the Ice Age. Ground water dripping through the cave's ceiling formed stalactites, stalagmites and a mineral coating all over the cavern's walls, floors and ceiling. Not long after discovery, the Caverns opened for business. In 1925, a more geologically interesting section of the cave was uncovered, and the original opening was closed. Today, the Natural Wonder Cavern Tour is done through this section and showcases a more colorful scenery and higher density of stalactite and stalagmite formations. Guests follow a winding path overlooking the beautiful valley and enter through a sinkhole entrance opened in 2012.
Since this time, Ohio Caverns has attracted visitors from all over the state, country and world. It is home to Ohio's largest known cave systems, with over 2 miles of passageways and depth ranging from 30 to 103 feet. Inside, amongst a wide array of formations and features that come in all different colors - ranging from blue to orange to reddish black, is the Crystal King. The Crystal King is the most famous formation in the Caverns and one of the largest and most perfectly formed stalactites in history - at almost 5 feet long, 400 pounds and over 200,000 years old!
In addition to the popular Natural Wonder Cavern Tour, you can also take the Historic Tour. This tour includes parts of the caverns that were originally viewed by visitors from 1897-1925 and then was re-opened in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of its discovery. Through August 31, in celebration of their 125-year anniversary, you can take the special Discovery Lantern Tour. This limited-edition lantern led tour takes you through the Historic Tour of the caverns, as it was originally seen before electric was added. The Discovery Lantern Tour is only offered once a day and is by reservation only. Our Chamber team and some of our board members were able to take the very first Discovery Lantern Tour and we highly recommend it! Emily Walters, Logan County Visitors Bureau Director, says "We are so lucky to have an attraction like Ohio Caverns in Logan County. The Caverns provide a unique experience for all ages to enjoy. If you get the opportunity to take the 125th anniversary tour, do it! The lantern lead tour was different than anything I have ever experienced, and I learned so many things I never knew about the caverns. Congratulations to 125 years!" Cavern tours are available every day from 9am - 5pm from May through September, and from 10am - 4pm from October through April (closed Thanksgiving & Christmas Day). The cavern remains a steady 54 degrees year-round, allowing for a cool retreat during the hot summer months and a warm escape during the cold winter.
In addition to their big anniversary, Ohio Caverns has been recognized for several other accomplishments. They were recently awarded National Speleological Society Outstanding Landowner-Caver Relationship Award, TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Award (awarded to the top 10% of ALL attractions worldwide) and Logan County's "Best Attraction" Award. They credit a lot of their success and worldwide recognition to "word of mouth" advertising. JD Harshfield, Ohio Caverns Manager, shares that his team works very hard to make sure every visitor that comes through the door feels welcomed and appreciated and they hope visitors leave Ohio Caverns feeling a sense of excitement and wonder from what they just experienced. The team also goes to great lengths to continually preserve the cavern, so future generations can see it how it was viewed when first discovered.
Another big accomplishment, though not an award, is the Ohio Caverns Solar Field that was completed in 2017. The project, a collaboration with OGW Energy Resources, includes 160 Ultra high-efficiency panels. These panels are estimated to offset approximately 100% of Ohio Caverns yearly kWh usage and have several environmental benefits - one of which being the equivalent to 15.6 tons of waste recycled instead of going to landfill each year.
Guests can take advantage of complimentary Solar-Powered Electric Vehicle charging stations while touring the caverns. Other amenities include a 35 acre well maintained park located directly above the caverns where kids can play on the playground and families can enjoy many different picnic areas. The gift shop contains a variety of unique souvenirs, including rocks, fossils and even gem mining (a favorite among kids).
Annually, Ohio Caverns sees around 65,000 visitors and walk in traffic drives a lot of this business. Thankfully, they have been fortunate to have great attendance over the last decade, even through the pandemic. Looking forward, the team is excited to be welcoming back more school field trips throughout the next fall and spring seasons. For many students, this is a trip that is highly sought after but the pandemic put a hold on them.
If Ohio Caverns sounds like a place you'd love to work at - you're in luck. They are looking for Cavern Tour Guides and Gift Shop staff! You can fill out an application online at ohiocaverns.com/jobs or by stopping in any day.
For more information about Ohio Caverns, especially how you can take a tour yourself - please visit ohiocaverns.com . You can also find them on the following social media sites: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. For more direct info, you can contact the staff by calling (937) 465-4017 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
Please join us in congratulating Ohio Caverns for being the Logan County Chamber August Business of the Month and for their 125-year anniversary!
2021 Stars In Business Award Winners
Todd McCormick - Max Evans Tourism Award Winner
This award is presented annually by the Chamber and Visitors Bureau Council to a person who exhibits hospitality to visitors and tourists in our community and for tirelessly working to promote Logan County attractions.
Todd McCormick is the Curator/Director of the Logan County Historical Society/Logan County History Center. He has held this position since 1998. Since becoming curator/director at LCHS, Todd has overseen the historic renovation of the 1906 Orr Mansion and helped with the creation of the Logan County Transportation Museum. Todd served as President of the Ohio Local History Alliance in 2017 & 2018 and has presented numerous sessions at OLHA regional and annual meetings. He has served on the Logan County Visitors Bureau Council since 1998 and has a B.A. in History from BGSU & a M.A. in Public History from Wright State.
Community Health & Wellness Partners - Non-Profit of the Year Award Winner
The Non-Profit of the Year award is given to an agency that shows dedication to improving lives and strengthening our community.
Community Health & Wellness Partners came to life through the vision of 17 caring individuals within the community in June 2012. The vision for the organization was to support citizens in Logan and surrounding counties with affordable healthcare, serving anyone and everyone without economic or social barriers. Community Health & Wellness Partners offers a full range of medical care services at three locations: Bellefontaine, West Liberty and Russells Point. They are the first to open a local school-based health center located at West Liberty-Salem Local Schools. Another location in Urbana is expected to open in the summer of 2022. CHWP also purchased a mobile unit that will deliver health care services throughout the community in the future.
Jessica Simmons - Young Professional of the Year Award Winner
The Young Professional of the Year Award is given to an applicant who has devoted time to improving the quality of life of others through civic and community service and is actively developing leadership skills and demonstrating growth towards future goals.
Jessica is a 1999 graduate of Bellefontaine High School and a two-time graduate of The Ohio State University. She recently celebrated her 10th year with Ameriprise, earning the title of Vice President, and also has her Certified Financial Planner designation and credentials as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.
Community involvement is a high priority for Jessica. She is involved with Rotary, Discovery Riders & Windmill Productions, the Community Improvement Corporation loan committee, the Young Professionals steering committee, the United Way Million Dollar Roundtable committee, and United Way Women United, to name a few.
Four Acre Clothing Co. - Emerging Business of the Year Award Winner
The Emerging Business of the Year Award is presented to a business who exemplifies a unique business idea, marketing approach or management style that have contributed to its growth and success.
The Four Acre Clothing Co. had always been a dream for Rodney and Andrea Wrocklage but finally came to fruition on December 8th, 2017. With help from their friends and team at Hi-Point Graphics, Rodney & Andrea created a brand that is built around quality and comfort. Their journey began in the backroom at Peachtree and continued on to makers markets all cross Ohio. Their first debut was at the Dalton Union Winery on June 30, 2018 and then they secured their home at 102 South Main Street on February 22, 2019, plus 10 other wholesale locations. The Four Acre Clothing Co. continues to be a fan favorite in the local community as well as at markets and festivals all over the state of Ohio.
Thompson, Dunlap & Heydinger - Small Business of the Year Award Winner
The Small Business of the Year Award is presented to an independently owned Logan County business that is financially strong and profitable and has shown a history of growth.
Over the past 55 years, Thompson, Dunlap & Heydinger has grown from 3 lawyers into west central Ohio’s preeminent law firm with 5 offices and more than 30 team members. TDH has constantly provided outstanding service to its clients with a commitment to community service. TDH has volunteered their time and talents to countless community causes, like coaching youth sports and leadership on various boards and campaigns and uses the slogan: Local lawyers. Local leaders. This is evident that they have fully embraced the concept of “you get back what you give.”
Erwin Insurance - Integrity in Business Award Winner
The Integrity in Business Award is presented to a business that is recognized for providing quality service with honesty and probity to the Logan County Community.
Erwin Insurance Agency was established in 1960 by the late Bob Erwin. His strong work ethic and the trust and loyalty of friends and clients led him to achieve the distinction of being the top Nationwide agent in the United States in 1977 and 1978. Son Jeff Erwin joined the agency in 1983, and daughter Linda Erwin-Hutchins followed in 1988. After Bob retired in 1997, Jeff and Linda assumed operation of the Erwin Insurance Agency. Bob’s legacy of being genuine, honest, and always doing the right thing lives on in the agency he established over 60 years ago and in the ones who operate it today. Their clients’ needs and their goal to provide exceptional service are what guide them every day. Bob’s daughter Cheryl Erwin joined the agency in 2003 and Tisha Young joined in 2011. They are proud to support and live in the community they work in and look forward to serving Logan Co. and beyond for many years to come.
Randy Marker, CEO of Marker Inc. - Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award is given to an individual who has made a significant investment and impact on Economic Development in Logan County. The award winner exhibits an innovative spirit and willingness to take risks to provide products, services and employment opportunities for our community.
Randy studied engineering at The Ohio State University & earned his Master’s in Business Administration from Texas Tech. in 1984, he joined his brother-in-law, Pat Ellis, in the family construction business. Under Randy’s leadership and vision, Marker has grown to become one of the largest construction firms in Central Ohio, and now includes their affiliate, Marker Development.
Randy is known at Marker for being a visionary leader – for always pushing the company and its associates to think differently, grow their talents, and challenge themselves. Randy credits their client, community, and associate-centered culture with attracting and retaining their high-performing staff of 150 associates. Though the organization is 65 years old, it still feels like a startup in many ways because Randy is always dreaming about the next thing that will help the organization grow and differentiate themselves from others. Randy is an entrepreneur at heart and has contributed so much to Logan County and to his organization.
Rick Hatcher - The Richard J. Rupp Leadership Award Winner
The Richard J. Rupp Leadership Award is given to an individual who has made a significant impact in Logan County with his/her outstanding leadership skills. In addition, they are recognized for their commitment, vision and dedication to our community.
Rick certainly has cared for and invested much into Logan County beyond his standard work hours. He has volunteered and served in countless capacities over the years including: the Mary Rutan Hospital Board and Mary Rutan Health Association Board (2009-present), BHS Athletic Boosters and BHS Hall of Fame Committee (1992-present), St. Patrick’s Church Building & Grounds Board (2008-present), Logan County Land Bank (2016-present), YMCA Board, Logan County Chamber Board, the Milroy Foundation, and continual service as a volunteer baseball and softball coach for 25+ years.
Because of Rick’s natural affinity to selflessly care for his family and invest in people, his positive impact on Logan County is hard to quantify. Much of Rick’s work has taken place quietly behind the scenes as he never looks for credit or praise. One thing is certain, his family, business, and community legacy are profound as he has touched the lives of athletes, families, and countless residents in Logan County with his leadership and community focus.