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Harmony group named Community Champion

Dennis McCurdy, president of the Harmony Business Association, accepts the Community Champion award on behalf of the association during a picnic lunch Wednesday at the Harmony Inn in Harmony. Shown, from left, are Karen Brackett of NexTier Bank, McCurdy, Brian McCafferty, chairman of the Butler County Chamber of Commerce board of directors, and Debbie Crum of the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau.
Business assoc. lauded for work

HARMONY — While the Harmony Business Association on Wednesday was honored for its contributions to the community, the entire community shared in accepting the award.

The Butler County Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau, presented the annual Community Champion award to the association for raising civic pride and encouraging cooperation and business growth.

About 50 people, including about 20 of the association's 40 members, celebrated at a picnic lunch at the Harmony Inn, which is on its way to reopening.

“I love having the opportunity to be able to reward the efforts of this group that has worked tirelessly,” Brian McCafferty, chairman of the chamber's board of directors, said when presenting the award.

“You can't help but tell that from the very moment you turn off Route 68, you can sense and feel the civic pride this community has.

“I don't believe that happens by accident. I think it takes the very efforts of you volunteers — to be very intentional — to see that through and to make this happen.”

The award hit close to home for McCafferty, whose brother and sister-in-law, Bob and Jodi McCafferty, have been caught up in state liquor licensing disputes since taking over the Harmony Inn at the end of 2013. The dispute was recently resolved, but it kept Harmony's anchor business from reopening last fall as planned. Now, it is set to reopen after an expansion of its liquor license is approved.

“I can't tell you how refreshing it was, when I read in the Butler Eagle, how this group went up to bat and swung hard for Bob,” he said, also recognizing the backing of borough officials, local representatives and the tourism bureau.

“You would think in today's times ... most governmental agencies would welcome with open arms any small business to come in and create revenue streams for their coffers, which are dry right now.

“That's not always the case, and I can tell you that from personal experience,” said McCafferty, who owns Kenmac Rentals & Sales in Butler.

“Everybody's working together to make this successful,” he said. “That's what we need nowadays.”

Dennis McCurdy, who became president of the Harmony Business Association two years ago, praised that cooperation in accepting the award on behalf of the association.

“In a community like this, the only way you (grow business) is by growing every business, and it doesn't matter whether you're at the bottom of Mercer hill or at the top of Main Street, we want every event, every occasion, anything anybody does to be shared with everyone else and given the opportunity to join in,” he said.

McCurdy, an attorney who with his wife MJ owns the Bottlebrush Gallery on Main Street, cited the opening of the Center of Harmony more than two years ago as one of the events that breathed new life into the business community.

The buildings on Mercer Street, owned and operated by Josh Meeder and Dana Lowers, are home to about a dozen small businesses. The center also hosts monthly concerts, speakers and wellness events.

McCurdy also praised the efforts of the community in standing behind the reopening of the Harmony Inn.

“If we cannot save this place, we can kiss the whole business community goodbye because this place puts more feet on the street in any given day than anything else that happens here except our special events,” he said.

“It's not a top-down organization,” he said of the association. “It truly is in the spirit of the early Harmonists, a communal organization. The membership votes on everything.”

The award is sponsored by NexTier Bank and 4-Most Group Architects.