(Posted March 20, 2019)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
When Jeff Pfeil showed up at the Madison County Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, he had no idea he was bound for the awards spotlight.
The West Jefferson resident was clearly moved when David Kell, the Chamber’s executive director, called him to the podium as this year’s Bell Ringer, an honor awarded annually to a county resident dedicated to bettering the community.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be here receiving this award,” Pfeil told the crowd gathered at the London Country Club on March 14.
He credits his late father with setting an example for lending a hand.
“Ever since I started following my dad around (as a boy), I just thought that’s what we did,” he said.
One of Pfeil’s first tastes of community service came when he was 5 years old and his parents solicited his help at the West Jefferson Ox Roast, for which they were volunteers. He now serves as president of the West Jefferson Community Association which puts on the annual Labor Day weekend event. Each year he can be found digging the pit to cook the meat, preparing and serving sandwiches, organizing vendors, and serving as the “voice of the parade.”
A 1974 graduate of West Jefferson High School, Pfeil returned to his alma mater as a teacher. He retired a few years ago after 29 years with the district. He still serves as the announcer for West Jefferson football games on Friday nights.
“Apparently, spending all his time and energy serving the community’s youth just wasn’t enough,” Kell said before noting that Pfeil served as a West Jefferson adult softball commissioner, has spent 23 years coordinating West Jefferson’s Christmas in the Park event, is a freelance photographer for the Madison Messenger, and owns and operates a lawn care business he started in 1982.
“Our award recipient sees the value in the bigger picture of his community,” Kell continued. “He dedicates hours of time and effort serving as a Jefferson Township trustee and a Madison County Trustee Association member.”
Kell also thanked Pfeil for his efforts as a member of Madison County Future Inc., the economic development arm of the Chamber of Commerce.
“I think I speak for everyone here when I say that we’re all thankful for the 5-year-old boy that humored his parents by helping them volunteer for their community, but even more so for the community servant he’s become over the years,” Kell said.
The Chamber also presented awards to three organizations.
The Non-Profit Award went to LifeCare Alliance which provides Meals-On-Wheels and senior dining centers to senior citizens and residents with medical challenges. In 2018, the Columbus-based non-profit provided 22,700 home-delivered meals to 180 clients and 4,100 congregate meals to 27 clients in Madison County.
The Retail/Service Award went to First Energy for its service to residents and businesses, support of local economic development, and contributions to non-profit organizations throughout Madison County.
The Industrial Award went to Target Distribution Center. Since opening a regional distribution center in West Jefferson in 2004 and a food distribution center in 2014, the company has provided opportunities in Madison County through job creation and community investment in the form of grants and donations.