Heritage Harbor founder awarded Leo Parkerson Award by Ottawa Chamber

Heimsoth ‘a true believer’ in the future of Ottawa, director says

Thomas Heimsoth and his team didn’t have the easiest road when they broke ground on Heritage Harbor in 2007, but he’s now been presented the Leo Parkerson Award as his team continues breaking ground and expanding along property on the Illinois River.

Heimsoth was presented the honor during the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner Thursday at Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center.

Chamber Director Jeff Hettrick said Heritage Harbor is a busy place teeming with new construction, new boat slips and new people, and in the time since it opened, it’s driven many new people into Ottawa.

“(Heimsoth) is a true believer in the future of Ottawa as a place to visit and also as a place to live full time,” Hettrick said.

Heimsoth is a founding board member of the Starved Rock Community Foundation as well as a member of the YMCA board, actively working with the Y on developing its new riverfront location.

“This is very special, and I appreciate it very much,” Heimsoth said. “It’s been a lot of hard work with the people at my table and the others that have backed me to make this all possible.”

Donna Reynolds, who Chamber Ambassador Meg Skelly said works tirelessly behind the scenes, won the Ethyl Strong Award for commitment, enthusiasm and outstanding contribution to the community.

Skelly said Reynolds has organized numerous markets, vendors, and oversaw contracts as an integral volunteer and there isn’t a single event in Ottawa that doesn’t have her fingerprints all over it.

Also receiving honors Thursday was Ottawa Economic Development Director Dave Noble with the Chairman’s Award for outstanding work with the city.

Karli Johnson, membership coordinator for the chamber, also spoke to thank all the businesses and especially the volunteers that make the chamber thrive. She awarded the “Volunteer of the Year” to Laurie Duffell, vice president of Ottawa Savings Bank.

The keynote speaker of the night was Rook Nelson, director of Skydive Chicago. Nelson is a veteran of over 26,000 skydiving jumps and holds 16 world records. Nelson spoke about Skydive Chicago, which is the largest civilian training school for skydiving in the United States.