Swanton Area Chamber of Commerce president Neil Toeppe is this year’s Corn Festival parade grand marshal.
Neil and Eileen Toeppe have resided in Swanton since 1984. They have one son, Joe, and two grandsons, Logan and Jacob. Joe is a 1990 Swanton High School graduate, Logan was in the Class of 2016 and Jacob is in the class of 2020.
Neil has been active in the community ever since he moved here. When son Joe was in Boy Scout Troop 208 in 1984 Neil was the troop chairman. When he and Eileen joined Valleywood Golf Club they became involved with the Ma & Pa Golf league, then he was elected to the Board of Trustees where he was elected club Secretary, which he served over eight years. He is the only person in club history to be awarded Emeritus status.
In 1996, Neil retired from the Ohio Bell Telephone Company as a manager in the business marketing department. He was hired by Pioneer Standard Electronics, then was recruited to manage the sales operation of Brooks Fiber Technology. When he left Brooks, he formed his own company, Peak Performance Consulting, Inc.
During this time, he and Eileen divided their time between their Maui condo and their Swanton home. When their second grandson came along in 2001 they decided to return to Swanton full time. When playing golf in the Swanton Chamber Golf outing in 2002 with Pastor and Carolyn Haller, Pastor Haller told Neil that Judy Debo was retiring from the chamber position and since he wasn’t doing anything, might he be interested in applying for the position.
In January 2003 Neil started his new position with the Swanton Area Chamber of Commerce. Since then Neil has represented the community in various positions in many organizations.
He served on the Fulton County Community Improvement Corporation Board for over 10 years, many of those years as vice-president. He also was a founding member and charter Executive Committee member of the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation and currently is a member of the FCEDC. He has served as a member of Congressman Bob Latta’s Economic Advisory Group; a member of Northwest State’s Business Management Advisory Board; is a founding member and past vice-president of the Northwest Ohio Benefit Alliance; he has served on the Swanton Public Library Board of Trustees for the past 10 years and is the current Board President; he was a founding member of the Swanton Area Community Coalition, its past president and current treasurer. He is a founding member of the Northwest Ohio Benefit Alliance and serves on its board. Neil is also currently the Vice President of the Fulton County Visitor Bureau Board of Directors.
With the Swanton Chamber of Commerce, Neil started the Community Calendar and initiated the Community Directory. However, he is most proud of bringing the Swanton Juried Fine Art Exhibit to life in 2014 with the help of a small but dedicated group of volunteers. The art exhibit encourages creativity in the young and not so young and Neil is very proud to note that, while the exhibit is in its infancy, it has already provided nearly $3,000 in scholarships to student artists. The exhibit brings artists and visitors from over 25 communities to Swanton and provides an opportunity to show off Swanton.
If you stop by the chamber office, Neil is quick to take you over to his “chart wall” with over a dozen charts and show you the census statistics that show that Swanton has the highest median income, highest housing values, highest aggregate income and the second highest number of businesses in Fulton County.
It goes without saying that Neil stays very busy. He is quick to point out that without a wife who is willing to share him with the community he couldn’t be nearly as involved as he is. When asked why he stays so involved he casually mentions that you often hear folks say, “Why doesn’t someone do something about that?”. “Well”, he says, “I’m someone. So why not try doing something?” Neil stated that it is humbling to be added to the list of those who have been grand marshals in the past.
The Corn Festival is Saturday with the parade beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Main Street and Brookside Drive.