Surprise: Former Liberty Twp. trustee unknowingly receives top award from chamber

Recently retired Liberty Twp. Trustee Christine Matacic thought most of her long political connections with her home community were wrapped up but a chamber of commerce awards dinner this month showed her otherwise.

Matacic, who first became a trustee in 2002, was puzzled a bit when she was invited to the West Chester and Liberty Chamber Alliance Annual Celebration & Awards Dinner event earlier this month. She saw it only as an opportunity to socialize with former colleagues.

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But she was again surprised when she found her reserved dinner seat at one of the roundtables was next to an empty chair.

And Matacic, who retired from political office on Jan. 1, was then pleasantly shocked when chamber President and CEO Joe Hinson took to the podium and announced her as co-winner of the prestigious Walter Eppley Lifetime Member Award.

After she thanked the event’s audience, Hinson then pointed out to Matacic that the once empty chair next to her was now filled by her broadly smiling husband John, revealing he had been in on the surprise award all along.

“Everybody knew,” she said, chuckling at the friendly deception.

“It was definitely a surprise and an honor,” said Matacic, who was this year’s winner along with Bob Wiwi, a longtime executive at CG&E (now Duke Energy) who has nearly a decade as President of the Mercy Foundation.

The Walter Eppley Lifetime Member Award is presented to member who consistently exhibits dedication and commitment to The Chamber Alliance. The award was named in 1996 for Eppley, a longtime chamber member and the award’s first recipient, who exemplified these qualities.

Matacic credited those who have worked with her for years in accepting the award.

“You don’t do these things alone. It takes a team to do what you do … and that is what has motivated me to do a lot of the things I have done,” she said.

Hinson, who leads a chamber that is the third largest in southwest Ohio, said “we are extremely proud to have presented the Walter Eppley Lifetime Member Award to Christine Matacic.”

“In addition to her decades of public service as a Liberty Township Trustee, Christine consistently dedicated her time and boundless energy to our chamber, including serving as both a committee chair and member of our board of directors, and we have benefitted greatly from her many contributions.”

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