The Tucker County Chamber of Commerce held its 36th annual awards banquet last Thursday night at the Canaan Valley Resort.
Executive Director, Bill Smith opened the ceremony with his usual panache thanking the sponsors, donors, and workers who made the evening possible. Pastor James Snyder gave the invocation and was followed by Chamber President, Roxanne Tuesing who also thanked all involved with making the evening possible.
The evening’s keynote speaker was Tucker County’s very own, Justice Allen H. Loughry II. Loughry was born and raised in Tucker County and still maintains a residence here. During his youth he wrote numerous articles and was for many years the chief photographer for our very own The Parsons Advocate. Loughry said he ran his campaign on principles he learned here in Tucker County: honesty, integrity and hard work. He said he had the audacity to think that an average kid from Tucker County, West Virginia could participate in politics.
“They (kids) can change things in this state”, Loughry said.
Following Loughry’s address the banquet went on to honor the Educator of the Year, Cathy Hebb. The award was sponsored by Mountain Hospice and presented by Bethany Cangley. Hebb , a teacher for more than 37 years was honored as a superior educator who dedicated her life to Tucker County students. Hebb let her students speak for her by reading comments from a few of the many cards she has received over the years. It was obvious that she was more than teacher but also friend, often helping students that weren’t even in her class.
The Chamber then went on to honor not just one but two students of the year. It was noted that with the two outstanding nominees that it was impossible to select just one young person. The awards were sponsored by Western Pocahontas and Performance Motors, and presented by Doug Toothman and Patrick Darlington, respectively. Both honorees were very involved in athletics, school clubs, and community activities.
The first award went to Ben Flanagan who thanked his Mom and Dad and said the experience was very humbling. After graduating, he plans on serving as a missionary for a couple of years and then entering Pre-Med.
The second honoree was Ian Nichols who said he was raised in a family where school came first and sports second. He said the award was something to be proud of and that he’d remember it the rest of his life. Nichols, a Promise Scholarship recipient , plans on studying Petroleum Engineering.
Next on the evening’s program was the award for Employee of the Year. The award was sponsored by Blackwater Falls State Park and presented by Bill Smith. This year’s recipient was Wanda Freeman. Freeman had worked as an office assistant for 23 years at the old Parsons Hospital and went on to work 27 years at the West Virginia Division of Highways. Smith noted her cheerful persona every time she answered the phone. Freeman gave credit to her co-worker and told briefly of her battle with cancer. She went on to say she was truly blessed and urged everyone to not take life for granted as we are not guaranteed tomorrow.
Next award of the evening was for Business Person of the Year which was sponsored by Davis High Valley Realty and presented Murray Dearborn. Patrick Darlington was the recipient . Darlington who purchased Performance Motors in 2007, credited his wife and family, loyal customers, employees, and his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for his success.
Honoring the giving spirit of Tucker County the next award was for Community Service which was sponsored by Monongalia General Hospital and presented by Roxanne Tuesing. This year’s recipient was Kevin White. White was commended for more than 30 years of volunteer work for your community and was credited for spearheading the revamping of the high school football field. He credited everyone working together. He also gave credit to his wife saying that without her he would not be here, that the award should really be for her.
The following award was the Travel and Tourism Award sponsored by Best of Canaan and presented by Donna Patrick. The honorees were Guest Services, Inc. Employees at Canaan Valley Resort. General Manager Dave Herscher and long-time employee Barbara Barnes accepted the award. It had been fourteen years since this honor had been awarded. They were commended for the amazing transformation of the lodge and the fact that the staff provided remarkable service throughout the two year project. Herscher said it was an honor to work with such a special group (of employees) and that the staff always performed with a smile on their face.
The big surprise of the evening always comes in the form of the Tuckineer award. Tuckineer is a compilation of the words Tucker and Mountaineer. The award was sponsored by Citizen’s Bank and presented by Debbie Ritter. Joining many other remarkable people, this year’s award went to the keynote speaker, Tucker County’s own Justice Allen H. Loughry II. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from West Virginia University and went on to obtain four law degrees even studying in England at Oxford. He was noted as the only Tucker County native to be elected to such a high office in our state. He is the author of a book on political corruption called: “Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a Landslide”.
Loughry was brief in his acceptance speech but made sure to let the attendees know that the award would hang very prominently at the Supreme Court of West Virginia.
For more information on the annual awards banquet or the Chamber of Commerce itself call: 304-259-5315.