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2020 and 2021 Kalkaska Citizens and Businesses of the Year Honored at Community Event

Pictured (from left to right): John Roberts, Patty Cox, Tom Holka, Christine McCool, and Meagan Williams // Photo credit: Courtney Kent Photography

The 2020 and 2021 Kalkaska Citizens and Businesses of the Year were honored at the Kalkaska Community Event hosted by the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation and sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan on Wednesday, August 4, 2021 at Railroad Square Pavilion.

The event celebrated local residents and businesses who positively contribute to the Kalkaska area community. Award winners for 2020 included Earth's Garden Natural Foods, owned by Christine McCool, for Business of the Year and Patty Cox as Citizen of the Year. Award winners for 2021 included McDonald’s, owned by the Holka Family, for Business of the Year, John Roberts as Citizen of the Year, and a special one-time Memorial Award honoring Michael Ascione for his impact on the Kalkaska community.

The winners shared their reactions to receiving their awards with the Community Foundation:

  • “I love my customers. I love my business. I love my community!” said Christine McCool, owner of Earth’s Garden.
  • “The reason I love this community is because of the people. I had a rewarding career at the schools and enjoy seeing my past students come into my son’s store, Lodi Trading, where I now work and help out at,” said Patty Cox, former Kalkaska County Commissioner for District #7.
  • "Over the past few years I've had the privilege to work with many Community Foundation affiliates. It's a true honor to be recognized by a group of folks and an organization I admire so much,” said John Roberts, Director of Kalkaska County Library.
  • “Thank you for the recognition for the Business of the Year. I am proud and honored to be selected. We will continue to do our part today and in the future,” said Tom Holka, owner of McDonald’s Kalkaska.
  • “One of Mike’s core beliefs was that one individual cannot create large scale improvements to a society on their own . . . Mike would have wanted this wonderful honor to be shared with the many unnamed people who worked hard and with dedication to improve the lives of the members of this community,” said Jeanne, Marina, and Alex Ascione, family of Mike Ascione.

The community event also recognized the 2021 Miss Kalkaska scholarship recipient, Meagan Williams, a former Community Foundation Youth Advisory Council member. All event registrations supported the Community Foundation’s Endowment for Kalkaska Area, a permanent fund dedicated to supporting the Kalkaska community. To learn more about the Community Foundation’s impact in Kalkaska County, visit: www.gtrcf.org/kalkaska.

Pictured (from left to right): Jeanne and Marina Ascione // Photo credit: Courtney Kent Photography

Pictured (from left to right): Janet Sieting, Andi Halpin, Cash Cook, Cari Jo Roberts, and Rachael Birgy (Community Foundation Kalkaska Board Directors) // Photo credit: Courtney Kent Photography