The Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce honored seven individuals or businesses Thursday evening at its annual awards gala at the Huntingdon Country Club. Among the award winners were, from the left, seated, Kathy Armillei, Betsy and Mark Whitsel and Maria Pettinger; standing, chamber president and CEO Yvonne Martin, Helen Sickle, Michael Greeley, Jeff Miles and chamber chairman of the board Joe Peluso. Missing from the photo is Jim Lakso who represented Juniata College.
Chamber honors success
Seven awards presented at Annual Awards Gala
By BECKY WEIKERT
Daily News Managing Editor
The Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce recognized seven individuals or businesses who have worked to make the community a better place to live, work and play during its Annual Awards Gala Thursday evening at the Huntingdon Country Club.
“These award nominees and winners have given of their time, energy and talents for the betterment of the community and we thank them for that,” said chamber chairman of the board Joe Peluso.
In his opening remarks, Peluso emphasized the importance of collaboration in the county.
“Without collaboration, our community will not flourish. We need federal, state and local governments and businesses and nonprofit organizations; we all need to work together,” said Peluso.
Individuals representing the award sponsors presented the evening’s honorees with a glass award made by Griffith Glass Gallery of Huntingdon.
A separate award was given to ATHENA Award recipient Maria Pettinger and presented by the 2011 award winner Helen Pyzowski.
The ATHENA Award recognizes an individual or organization who has demonstrated exemplary dedication of time or resources for the betterment of the community and for assisting women in reaching their full leadership potential.
“This year’s ATHENA Award recipient is an accomplished, innovative leader who has made a substantial difference by exhibiting, creativity and initiative in her profession,” said Pyzowski.
Among her many affiliations, Pettinger has been involved with the Huntingdon County Arts Council, Huntingdon County Historical Society, Huntingdon County United Way, Huntingdon Landmarks Inc. and the J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital Foundation. She has also been a McConnellstown Playhouse volunteer, served on the J.C. Blair Cares and 100th anniversary committees.
An emotional Pettinger thanked the chamber for the honor.
“This is a huge honor,” said Pettinger. “I’ve been here 10 years and it’s been the best 10 years of my life.”
Also during the evening, Jo Anna Swope of Raymond James Financial Services Inc. presented the David K. Goodman Jr. Community Service Award to Huntingdon County United Way executive director Kathy Armillei.
Given to an individual who shows exemplary dedication of their time and service to the community, Armillei told the audience she credits her mother with teaching her the importance of volunteering.
“She was a shining example of what volunteering is,” said Armillei of her late mother.
Huntingdon Area High School principal Jeff Miles was honored Thursday with the Educator of the Year Award.
Sponsored by Juniata College and presented by Gabe Welsch, Juniata vice president of marketing and advancement, the award honors an individual for their commitment in the field of education.
“The Educator of the Year Award recipient is genuinely concerned about the success of his students,” said Welsch.
Miles credited a number of individuals for his success, including educators, his daughters and his “best friend and wife, Lisa.”
“I love my job, I love the kids and I hope I do them justice,” said Miles.
Education is also a focus of the Business of the Year Award recipient, Juniata College.
“You hear a lot about what Juniata College does for the community, but I’m here to tell you the community does a lot for Juniata,” said Juniata provost Jim Lakso, who accepted the award on behalf of the college.
Established in 1876, Juniata has contributed greatly to the economy of the county. It employs more than 430 people, most of whom live in the community.
The award was sponsored by the John B. Brown Funeral Home Inc. and presented by funeral director Doug Hallinan.
The chamber prides itself in the support it provides for local entrepreneurs to enable them to succeed and Mark and Betsy Whitsel, owners of the Cassville Country Store, are shining examples of those entrepreneurs. Jerrod Smith of Kooman & Associates, the award sponsor, honored the couple Thursday with the Entrepreneurial Success Award.
“Having opened their business in February 2009 at the end of the recession, these entrepreneurs continued as other businesses struggled,” said Smith as a testament of the Whitsel’s dedication.
“We’re just a little part of Huntingdon County, but I think we’re important,” said Betsy Whitsel of the Cassville area. She thanked family for their support, noting their daughters work at the story and family is always there to help.
While she may not live or work in Huntingdon County, the Volunteer of the Year Award winner Helen Sickle works diligently to make sure everything she is involved in is a success.
“She is a very active volunteer for the Huntingdon County Chamber, as well as the Bedford County Chamber. She chairs our business opportunities committee and serves on the Winter Blues committee. Her inspiration helped develop the Winter Blues and attributed to the success of this unique event. She was also instrumental in developing the Business Connection event to help keep buying locally,” said award presenter Melissa Cisney Foster of Cisney & O’Donnell, the award sponsor. “She truly cares about our community.”
Sickle thanked her employer, Snappy Chef, for allowing to become involved in the chamber and encouraged the audience to do the same.
“If you’re not involved, get out and do it and you’ll have a wonderful time,” said Sickle.
Presenting this year’s Customer Service award to Huntingdon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was Kurt Stull, manager of the Comfort Inn, the award sponsor.
“This facility’s mission is to serve the health and rehabilitative needs of the community and to improve the quality of life for each patient, resident, family member, visitor and co-worker with whom they come in contact,” said Stull.
Administrator Michael Greeley accepted the award on behalf of the facility.
“We work very hard at all levels to meet the needs of our residents,” said Greeley, thanking the chamber for the honor.
Also honored during the evening was Huntingdon County Planning and Development Commission planning director Richard Stahl, who will retire from his post in December after more than 30 years of service.
Chamber member John Cook shared Stahl’s history of involvement with the chamber since its beginnings as Huntingdon County Revitalization and Development Inc.
“His activities and accomplishments are numerous and have positively impacted the county and improved the quality of life in this special place we call home,” said Cook. “If there was a comprehensive plan, a strategic plan, a major project, a grant or loan, an ordinance or a public education workshop, Rich’s name was on it.”
Stahl has maintained his chamber support, currently serving as chair of the community improvement committee. He and his wife, Jennifer, plan to relocate to Idaho following his retirement. He was presented with a commemorative clock.
Peluso also took a moment during the evening to thank the chamber’s staff, president and CEO Yvonne Martin, membership director Mike Balchin and office manager Zach Waite, as well as elected officials present, including state Rep. Mike Fleck, state Sen. John Eichelberger, Huntingdon Borough mayor Dee Dee Brown and Huntingdon County Commissioners Jeff Thomas and Gary O’Korn.
Also recognized Thursday were the chamber’s Partners in Excellence, chamber members who give additional support over and above membership dues, including Straight Line Printing Co. and D Signs, platinum; Mutual Benefit Group, silver; Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc., bronze; Bumgardner & Flasher Oil Inc., Drayer Physical Therapy, FirstEnergy Corp., Juniata College and Lincoln Caverns Inc. and Whisper Rocks, royal.
Gala sponsors included Juniata College and Mutual Benefit Group, premier; Hunny 106.3, ACCO Brands, Home Nursing Agency and Bonney Forge Corp., gold; Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, First National Bank, Northwest Savings Bank, Keller Engineers, Sheetz Inc., Price Motor Sales, Community State Bank of Orbisonia, Clearfield Bank and Trust Co. and Comfort Inn of Huntingdon, silver; and Westminster Woods, Huntingdon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Law Offices of Roberta Binder Heath LLC and Beacon Marketing Solutions, patron sponsors. The centerpieces for the evening were created by Four Seasons Florist and sponsored by Log Cabin Gallery Shop and the programs were created and sponsored by Straight Line Printing Co. A reception hour, sponsored by Fairfield Inn and Suites, preceded the evening’s dinner.
Becky can be reached at email@example.com.
2011 Award Recipients Honored
By NIKKI PARK
The Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Gala was held Thursday evening at the Huntingdon Country Club to honor the recipients of seven awards and their sponsors, as well as the businesses and individuals who keep the Chamber in operation. There were 170 community members in attendance.
The Chamber works with area businesses to positively impact quality of life in the county. This year’s efforts included educational seminars, international trips and the addition of the David K. Goodman Endowment Fund to the Chamber’s Huntingdon County Foundation.
President of the board Beverly Green reports that the Chamber now has 414 members, a 13 percent increase from 2010.
Recipients of the awards graciously accepted with words of thanks and thoughtful reflections about the honors.
2009 ATHENA recipient Dee Dee Brown was present to honor Helen Pyzowski as the 2011 recipient, stating, “This is an outstanding award given to an outstanding lady.”
The ATHENA Award recognizes an individual or organization who has demonstrated exemplary dedication of time or resources for the betterment of the community and for assisting women in reaching their full leadership potential. This individual demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession. It was first presented in 1982 in Lansing, Mich., and has grown to include presentations to more than 5,000 individuals in hundreds of cities worldwide.
Pyzowski is a graduate of the Huntingdon County and Blair County Leadership Programs and currently serves on the Leadership Huntingdon County Steering Committee. This experience has given her insight into what it means to be a true leader in the community. She also serves on the board of directors for Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce and Huntingdon County Business and Industry. She serves on the Huntingdon County Partners for Economic Progress, Human Services Council, DuBois Business College Advisory Council, Huntingdon County Career & Technology Center Perkins Committee and the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce Education, Business Development, Business Connection, BASICS and Youth Leadership Committees. She serves on the HCBI Business Development Committee, Penn Highlands Community College Advisory Council and Huntingdon County Foundation Board of Trustees. She is a Rapid Response Team Member, an Advocate for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves and is on the Business Services Technical Workgroup in Harrisburg. She has presented on business services and building sustainable partnerships at the
National Workforce Development Conference inReno,Nev.
She provides motivational support to help women move forward and develop career goals. She also has served as a mentor to youth by assisting as a judge for senior projects at local schools and has designed and implemented a special program for pregnant teens and teenage mothers on coping with change. She has initiated community service projects which include annual food bank collection programs. She is responsible for the free workshops offered in Huntingdon County to empower women and men who are facing challenges in the workplace.
Pyzowski is one of Pennsylvania Business Centrals’s Top 100 People, and has received the National Workforce Professional Certification, the Clearfield County Nurse of Hope Award, the Corporate Rhino Recognition Award for Leadership, the Outstanding Team Player Award and the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year Award.
In a joyously tearful speech Pyzowski dedicated the award to her mother in Heaven whose positive spirit and loving heart led her to do good for others. Pyzowski shared her hope that she will inspire others just as her mother has inspired her.
The ATHENA statue’s marble base represents the recipient’s solid foundation. The unique textures of the bronze differ on each sculpture just as the life experiences of the recipients differ. The cut crystal symbolizes the many facets of human character and the light emanating from the recipient. Viewed from various angles, this form’s outstretched arms can be seen to express the celebration of achievement and reaching out to others.
The ATHENA award was sponsored by The Grier School; DuBois Business College; BottomLine Pros LLC.; J.C. Blair Health Systems, Inc.; Juniata College; Lincoln Caverns, Inc. and Whisper Rocks; Northwest Savings Bank; Penelec; Raymond James Financial Services; State College Magazine; and Westminster Woods.
Chamber vice-president and J.C. Blair Health Systems CEO Joe Peluso presented the 2011 Community Service Award to Randy Carper.
This award recognizes an individual or organization who has demonstrated exemplary dedication of time or resources for the betterment of the community.
Carper is active in the community in many ways. He is a past board member of the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the Home and Outdoor Show committee. He is past president of the Huntingdon Area Merchants, the Huntingdon Chapter of the American Cancer Society and PRIDE. He is an active volunteer for the PRIDE telethon. He is also past chairman of the
Salvation Army board of directors and serves on committees for Huntingdon County Business and Industry and the Juniata
College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.
Carper has been an active Boy Scout volunteer and Scoutmaster, having served Troop 29 and Pack 29. He is a past board member of the Penns Woods Council and serves on the Juniata Valley Council District Committee and is a member at large. He is a member of the Masons and the Jaffa Shrine, and is the Huntingdon County Republican chairman.
Originally from Petersburg, he left the area and returned to Huntingdon County 15 years ago. He has three sons, Mark, Steve and Randy. He is married to Ruth and has two step children, Casey Wible and Gretchen Hollabaugh. Carper attributes his ability to give back
to the community to his family.
The Community Service Award was sponsored by All American Pizza and Subs.
Douglas Hallanan presented the 2011 Business of the Year Award to Cisney & O’Donnell, Inc. Melissa Foster and Denny Cisney, Jr. accepted the award.
This award recognizes a business which has contributed to the economic growth of the community and which has helped to develop Huntingdon County.
Cisney & O’Donnell, Inc. was established in 1969 and has been a successful and forward thinking business for over four decades in Huntingdon County. This company has grown from a small business of two people that started out doing small siding projects, to a complete full service remodeling company, custom home builder and pool installer with numerous employees and trade partners.
They have been recognized as a leader in their industry and have been selected eight times as one of the country’s top remodelers. They have received the coveted Big 50 Award recognizing them as one of the top 50 most professional remodelers nationwide. In 2002 they were nominated by their employees and selected as one of the Best 100 Residential Construction Companies to work for. Cisney & O’Donnell, Inc. also holds a position on the National Home Builder’s Network of Top Twenty Clubs.
Cisney & O’Donnell, Inc. believes strongly in community involvement and invests locally in numerous ways. Company leaders are active on numerous committees and in organizations throughout the county. Employees give freely of their time and resources by involving themselves in many organizations, including the Huntingdon County United Way, Habitat for Humanity, the Huntingdon County Visitor’s Bureau, Huntingdon County Builder’s Association, Huntingdon County Businesses and Industry and the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce.
It is very important to Cisney & O’Donnell, Inc. to keep their business local whenever possible. Whether it is products or services that are needed, they have built long-standing relationships and use other businesses in the additional trades needed to make their projects a success.
The Business of the Year Award was sponsored by John H. Brown Funeral Home, Inc.
Kurt Stull, Comfort Inn General Manager, presented the 2011 Customer Service Award to Price Motor Sales. Fred Price accepted the award.
This award is presented to a business for their excellence in providing quality customer service.
Price Motor Sales treats every customer like they are family. They get to know their customers by interacting with them at the business and in the community. They truly care about their customers and make sure they are treated like people, not numbers. A key to them providing quality customer service is listening. They listen to their customers’ concerns and needs to make sure they hear and understand them so they can be taken care of in a timely and efficient manner. They realize that the customer is the most important visitor on their premise, and that the customer is not dependent on them. Customers are not an interruption in their work, but the purpose of it. This year’s award recipient believes that they are not doing the customer a favor by serving them, but that the customer is doing them a favor by giving them the opportunity to be of service to them.
Price Motor Sales was established in 1943 and has received many awards from Chrysler including the Pacesetter’s which is an award given nationally to an elite group of dealerships that exceed in customer service satisfaction. They have maintained the Five Star Chrysler Award for many consecutive years which recognizes top dealers in the nation for customer service. They have consistently ranked in the top 25 percent of Chrysler dealerships in the nation. The Customer Service Award was sponsored by Comfort Inn Huntingdon.
Fay Glosenger, Juniata College Education Department Chair, presented the 2011 Educator of the Year Award to Nin Hiles, choral director at Huntingdon Area High School.
This award recognizes an active educator in the county who has demonstrated “above and beyond” commitment and service in the field of education.
Hiles has been teaching music theory, voice, and guitar classes since 1991. He conducts three curricular and two extracurricular choral ensembles, and supervises the music department’s musical theatre productions. He is an active singer whose repertoire ranges from musical theatre to lyric opera and oratorio.
Hiles volunteers many hours after school to work with the high school chamber choir, Huntingdon Camerata, and work on the county, district, regional and All-State chorus festival preparation. The Huntingdon Camerata has been selected to perform at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association All State, the Music Educators National Eastern Division and the American Choral Directors
Association State and Eastern Division conferences.
Among his many accomplishments he has served as guest conductor for the Huntingdon and Clearfield County Chorus festivals, the 2005 District 1 Junior High Chorus Festival, as well as the 2003 ACDA-PA High School Honor Chamber Choir. Hiles earned his music education degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is the 2009 Huntingdon Area Education Association Teacher of the Year.
Hiles says the most important thing is to “surround yourself with good people.”
The Educator of the Year Award was sponsored by Juniata College.
Barbara Kooman presented the 2011 Entrepreneurial Success Award to John and Angela Thompson, owners of Thompson’s Candle Company of Huntingdon.
The purpose of this award is to recognize a community member, who has been in business for a minimum of two years, who individually owns and operates a business, initially launched as a small business, who has shown innovation and aided in the
advancement of the community.
The Thompsons began making candles in 1997 and became incorporated in 2002. They have created 13 new jobs and support various non-profit organizations throughout Huntingdon County, as well as Juniata College and J.C. Blair.
Thompson’s designs all their packaging and products. Their formulas are proprietary and innovative. Aside from candles, they also offer warmers, glassware, diffuser oils, room spray and scented sachets. They have permanent showrooms in Chicago, Ill. and Atlanta, Ga. Their “Scared-ey Cat Spice” candle is quite nice and is featured in the Chamber’s Hauntingdon brochure. Some days the smell of their candles lingers in the air and can be enjoyed by those crossing the4th Street Bridge.
The Entrepreneurial Success Award was sponsored by Kooman and Associates, Inc.
John Hille is committed to the goals of the Chamber and goes above and beyond in his service. Serving as a mentor for Chamber board members and a leader for many community groups has earned him the 2011 Volunteer of the Year Award. Toby Hood of Cisney
& O’Donnell, Inc. presented the award.
Hille served on the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for seven years, having served as president and vice-president. During his time as a Chamber leader, he extended and strengthened the staff, and strengthened the Chamber’s committee structure. He served on the Administration & Finance, Business Development and Huntingdon Area Promotions and Activities committees. He has also served on the Home & Garden Show and Golf sub-committees.
Hille played a key role in forming the Chamber’s Foundation, known as the Huntingdon County Foundation. He served as the first president of the foundation and continues to serve as a trustee.
He’s not only served the Chamber well, but has also served as the president of Habitat for Humanity and chair of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Huntingdon County. He is a founding member of the Huntingdon County Partners for Economic Progress and Pennsylvania Highlands Community College Huntingdon Campus, for which he serves on the advisory council. He has received the Golden Hammer Award from Habitat for Humanity and has been selected three times as one of the top 100 business leaders in central Pennsylvania. Hille is the executive vice-president of Juniata College.
Hille stated, “I have always received more from my service than I was ever able to give.”
The Volunteer of the Year Award was sponsored by Cisney & O’Donnell.
This year’s premier event sponsors were Juniata College, Mutual Benefit Group and PBS Coals, Inc. Gold sponsors include HUNNY 106.3 FM, Clearfield Bank and Trust, Bonney Forge Corporation, FirstEnergy Corporation MeadWestvaco and Home Nursing Agency. Silver sponsors include Keller Engineers, Northwest Savings Bank, Price Motor Sales, Community State Bank of Orbisonia, First National Bank, Law Offices of Robin Binder Heath and Pennsylvania Highlands Community College.
Patron sponsors include Westminster Woods, Bumgardner and Flasher Oil, Inc. and Mr. Richard Stahl.
Partners in Excellence, members who voluntarily give additional support to the Chamber, over and above their annual membership dues, include Platinum Partners D Signs and Straightline Printing Company, Silver Partner Mutual Benefit Group and Royal Partners All American Pizza and Subs, Bumgardner & Flasher Oil, Inc., Drayer Physical Therapy, FirstEnergy Corporation, Juniata College, Law Offices of Robin Binder Heath, and Lincoln Caverns, Inc. and Whisper Rocks.
The glass awards were created by Griffith Glass Gallery of Huntingdon. The Fairfield Inn and Suites sponsored the reception. Log Cabin Gallery Shop provided the centerpieces made by Four Season’s Florist. Straightline Printing Company sponsored the programs.
Green introduced the board of directors: Joe Peluso, vice-president; Lauren Wilson, secretary; Dee Dee Brown, treasurer; Janet Chambers; Amy Christopher; John Cook; Ann Dunlavy; Jim Foster; Melissa Foster; Chris French; Robin Binder Heath; Robert Lloyd; Lawrence L. Newton; Helen Pyzowski; Robert Ritchey; Jerry Rucker; Jeff Shuck; Helen Sickle and Richard Stahl.
Newly elected members who will join the board in January are Kathy Armillei, Cliff Beaver, Larry Burger, Dan Guyer, Steve Huston, Diana McClure and Joel Pheasant.
Chamber staff include Yvonne Martin, executive director; Michael Balchin, membership director; and Zac Waite, office manager.
Green thanked Huntingdon Mayor Dee Dee Brown, State Representative Mike Fleck and State Senator John Eichelberger for their support, stating, “One of the Chamber’s most important relationships is with our elected officials.”
The 2011 Annual Awards Gala is October 6. Click here to Register
The Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual awards gala Thursday, October 6, at the Huntingdon Country Club off Route 26, Walker Township. The Fairfield Inn and Suites reception begins at 5:45 p.m. and dinner will follow at 6:45 p.m.
This year’s premier sponsors include; Juniata College, Mutual Benefit Group and PBS Coals, Inc. Gold sponsors include; HUNNY 106.3 FM, Clearfield Bank and Trust, Bonney Forge Corporation, FirstEnergy Corporation and MeadWestvaco.
This year will again focus on seven members of the Chamber and the community who will be honored in a variety of categories. The awards this year are:
Community Service Award sponsored by All American Pizza and Subs
Educator of the Year sponsored by Juniata College
Entrepreneurial Success Award sponsored by Kooman and Associates, Inc.
Volunteer of the Year sponsored by Cisney & O’Donnell
Customer Service Award sponsored by Comfort Inn Huntingdon
Business of the Year sponsored by John H. Brown Funeral Home, Inc.
ATHENA Award sponsored by The Grier School; DuBois Business College; BottomLine Pros LLC.;
J.C Blair Health Systems, Inc.; Juniata College; Lincoln Caverns, Inc. and
Whisper Rocks; Northwest Savings Bank; Penelec; Raymond James Financial
Services; State College Magazine; Westminster Woods.
The menu for this year’s gala includes baked seasoned tilapia and seasoned sirloin with wild rice and vegetables and dessert.
The cost of the event is $35 per ticket. If you would like to attend the awards gala you can register online by clicking here, by contacting the Chamber at 814-643-1110 or emailing the Chamber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perry Smith, Director of Manufacturing and Distribution, MeadWestvaco; Bill Woods, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Clearfield Bank & Trust Company; Francis Vaughn, Vice Chair of the J. C. Blair Health Systems Board of Directors; Katherine Swigart, Human Resources Manager, Mutual Benefit Group; Kathy Rotruck, Huntingdon Area Middle School; Yvonne Martin, Executive Director, Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce, Amy Christopher, Mutual Benefit Group; Deb Saussure, The Inn at Edgewater Acres.
|2010 Awards Gala photos by Polly McMullin|
By Polly McMullin
The Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce has been presenting sponsored awards to its membership since 2001. A few years ago, it was decided to separate the annual meeting into two events — a business meeting and an awards gala.
About 185 people attended the dinner Wednesday evening at the Huntingdon Country Club to honor the recipients of seven awards and the sponsors, as well as the business and individuals who keep the Chamber in operation.
When accepting an award for J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, Frances Vaughn, vice chairperson of the board of directors, commented that the 500 employees are “proud to be part of this community.”
Likewise, Perry Smith, director of manufacturing and distribution at the MeadWestvaco plant in Alexandria, said the 400 employees there are proud to be part of the workforce in Huntingdon County and of a company which gives back to its community, not only financially, but in many ways that are not readily known by the general public.
The consensus among the speakers was that the business climate in the county is strong despite the weakened economic climate and the people who work and give to those less fortunate are many.
Ann Dunlavy, who has served as president for the past two years, introduced the board of directors: Jim Foster, vice president; Katherine Swigart, secretary; Dee Dee Brown, treasurer; and Randy Carper, Janet Chambers, Amy Christopher, John Cook, Jeannine Coursen, Melissa Foster, Glenn Gribble, John Hille, Robert Lloyd, Lawrence Newton, Joseph Peluso, Helen Pyzowski, Robert Ritchey, Derek Ross, Jeff Shuck, Helen Sickle and Lauren Wilson. Beverly Green and Richard Stahl return to the board in January and Robin Binder-Heath joins the board as a new member.
Additional financial support above membership is given to the Chamber by Mutual Benefit Group, silver pacesetter; Glenn O. Hawbaker and Kish Bank, bronze pacesetters; and All American Pizza and Subs, Beacon Marketing Solutions, Bumgardner & Flasher Oil, Inc., Ronald and Barbara Detwiler, First Energy Corp., Gimme Systems, Huntingdon Offset Printing Co., Juniata College and Lawrence Newton, attorney, royal pacesetters. The seven awards are listed in a separate story.
Sponsors for the ATHENA Award were the Grier School, Hoss’s Steak and Sea House, J.C. Blair Health System Inc., Juniata College, Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks, Log Cabin Gallery Shop, MJEM’s Photos and Raystown Realty Inc., Northwest Savings Bank and Westminster Woods.
John B. Brown Funeral Home sponsored the Business of the Year Award; Comfort Inn the Customer Service Award; Cisney & O’Donnell, Volunteer of the Year Award; Kooman & Associates, Entrepreneurial Success Award; Juniata College, Educator of the Year Award; and All American Pizza & Subs, Community Service Award.
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College hosted the reception; Log Cabin Gallery Shop provided the centerpieces made by Leah Davis-Dell and Huntingdon Copy Rite sponsored the programs.
Dinner sponsors were Juniata College, MeadWestvaco and Mutual Benefit Group, premiere; Bonney Forge Corp., Clearfield Bank and Trust Co., Home Nursing Agency and Hunny 106.3 FM Radio, gold; and The Daily News, J.C. Blair Health System, Keller Engineers, Northwest Savings Bank, Price Motor Sales and Sheetz, silver.
Recipients of the annual awards at the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce dinner Wednesday night graciously accepted with words of thanks and thoughtful reflections about the honors.
The Athena Award had eight sponsors this year. This is the 10th year for the Chamber’s presentation and the 2009 Athena recipient, Dee Dee Brown, was present to honor Katherine Swigart, human resources director at Mutual Benefit Group, as the 2010 recipient. Swigart is serving as secretary of the Chamber board of directors and chairs the Main Street Community Improvement Committee.
Swigart is employed at a business whose workforce is 74 percent female which enables her to nurture women’s development nearly every day. She identifies female employees with the potential to perform at higher levels and shares information about professional development opportunities with them, as well as other information that will enable them to advance professionally.
Swigart has mentored women at several businesses and organizations on human resources issues such as legal compliance, handbook policies and performance management and management systems. She is highly regarded in her profession and has earned the professional designation of senior professional in human resources. Swigart is a member of the Human Resources Professionals of Centre County and the Human Resources Professionals of Central PA.
Swigart has served as a member of the DuBois Business College advisory board, is past chair of CareerLink’s Employer Advisory Council, is a member of Rotary International and participated on the steering committee of the Huntingdon Young Professionals. She was a hotline volunteer 10 hours a week for 15 years for Huntingdon House, helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The Athena Award recognizes an individual or organization who has demonstrated exemplary dedication of time or resources for the betterment of the community and for assisting women in reaching their full leadership potential and demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession. It was first presented in 1982 in Lansing, Mich., and has grown to include presentations to more than 5,000 individuals in hundreds of cities worldwide.
Frances Vaughn, vice chairperson of the J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital board of directors, accepted the 2010 Community Service Award for the hospital.
The hospital has played an important role in the community for 100 years. It has contributed over $1 million in community benefit programs that include thousands of hours of volunteer service providing free education and screening programs, mentoring future health care professionals, providing leadership service to community organizations and contributing financial and in-kind support to a number of local initiatives.
In striving to meet the community’s health care needs, J.C. Blair Hospital has recruited and retained physicians in the areas of pediatric care, family practice, cardiology, oncologic and general surgery and other specialties. It has added Quick Labs throughout the county to provide patients with convenient access to medical laboratory services. Most recently, this organization announced a new occupational health program designed to partner with local employers to promote health and safety in the workplace.
The hospital generously donates its facilities for community use and supports and encourages employee involvement in many organizations and CEO Joseph Peluso takes an active role on the Chamber’s board of directors.
Perry Smith, director of manufacturing and distribution, accepted the 2010 Business of the Year Award for MeadWestvaco.
This award recognizes a business which has contributed to the economic growth of the community and which has helped to develop Huntingdon County. The forerunner of MeadWestvaco was established by J.C. Blair in 1868 and is ranked fourth on the list of the top 50 employers in Huntingdon County, gainfully employing more than 400 people. It annually contributes $100,000 to community, education, charity and volunteer organizations and also donates $100,000 in products and supplies.
MeadWestvaco leaders believe in buying locally and uses local vendors when possible. Employees are encouraged to be active in their communities. Employees are involved in everything from coaching youth teams to volunteer firefighting and participating on various charity, economic development and community boards. The business provides matching funds for all employee donations of volunteer time and financial contributions.
Recycling is another major effort at the Mead plant in Alexandria. Most of the component materials that are used to make its products are recycled. Approximately 3,500 tons of recyclable materials will be generated this year. MeadWestvaco was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and ranked as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2007.
Clearfield Bank & Trust Co. is the recipient of the 2010 Customer Service Award Recipient. Bill Wood of DuBois, CEO and chairman of the board, accepted the award.
Clearfield Bank & Trust Co. has an internal Quality Service Committee comprised of 10 people representing different areas of the bank and a mission to provide quality service to their internal and external customers, not only to meet, but to exceed their service expectations. The bank has several programs in place to help promote excellent customer service, including mystery teller shopping programs and account and lending tone of service questionnaires. A newly developed customer satisfaction survey is performed on a monthly basis and is sent to all customers who have closed accounts. A survey currently being developed will be sent to a random sampling of customers to assess the service they receive from staff and determine what can be done to improve their relationship with the bank.
Clearfield Bank & Trust has developed programs to reward employees who go above and beyond to provide great customer service. Quality of Service training sessions are conducted and newsletters remind employees that quality service is a priority for all.
The 2010 Educator of the Year recipient is Kathy Rotruck, Huntingdon Area Middle School teacher, whose goal is to assist all her students with preparing fully for their future by helping them grow academically and emotionally. Rotruck engages students in fun projects and helps them prepare for more structured high school and college writing courses. She helps her students stretch further and achieve more. She has a passion for teaching that is remarkable and a gift for finding the creativity many students didn’t know they possessed. Rotruck currently teaches accelerated language arts and reading classes as a gifted support teacher.
Debra and Mark Saussure, owners of The Inn at Edgewater Acres near Alexandria, are the recipients of the 2010 Entrepreneurial Success Award. They purchased the business in December 2005 and opened April 7, 2006. This picturesque destination located on the Juniata River offers lodging, two-hour to all-day on-site fishing trips with fishing and wading equipment provided, a venue for holding weddings, rehearsal dinners, Christmas parties, corporate events and retreats and dining to the public, Thursday through Saturday with a Sunday brunch. The unique setting is available for outdoor and indoor events and the newly purchased adjacent barn and stable will soon be available for weddings, dinner theater and other types of events.
Amy Christopher is committed to the goals of the Chamber and goes above and beyond in her service. Her level of organization, thoroughness and dedication to her volunteer responsibilities are a model for every volunteer, earning her the Volunteer of the Year Award.
Christopher serves on the Chamber’s board of directors and three committees, chairing membership. She recently volunteered to chair the Winter Blues Committee and is taking a lead role in developing this new event. She has elevated the expectations of the role of any committee chair through the roll-out and oversight of a detailed plan to achieve membership objectives more specific than ever before. She has mentored and assisted Chamber staff. She has also volunteered her time to help at the Annual Awards Gala, Coffee Connections and other events.