The glass industry was once West Virginia's largest employer, putting more people to work than even the coal industry, the keynote speaker said at the Elkins-Randolph Chamber of Commerce's annual awards banquet Wednesday.
Beri Fox, owner and chief executive officer of Marble King Inc., said things have since changed - in 2013, she is proud to be one of only four remaining glass manufacturers in the state. Founded in 1949, Fox's company is based in Paden City and manufactures more than 1 million marbles each day for recreational, decorative and industrial purposes.
Fox emphasized the importance of increasing manufacturing in the Mountain State at the chamber's celebration at Orchard Hall in Elkins.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Cynthia Hammer, far right, regional director for Catholic Charities West Virginia, is named Citizen of the Year by the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Wednesday during the awards dinner. Hammer was joined by, from left, the Very Rev. Donald X. Higgs, Teresa Wymer, Raymond Godwin and Amanda Hussion.
"For every manufacturing job, four other jobs support it," said Fox, whose company produces marbles that have appeared on the classic children's show "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood" and in movies such as "The Goonies" and the first two "Home Alone " films.
"Manufacturing is a key and critical part of what we do in West Virginia," she said. "It's part of our culture and our history. We can become one of the top five manufacturing states in the country, and I believe that," Fox said.
Following Fox's speech, the Chamber recognized outstanding local employers and individuals.
Inter-Mountain publisher and general manager Heather Goodwin Henline announced that Mountain Hospice, which has five offices and employs 73 people in the region, had been selected as the 2012 Business of the Year.
"This business has been an exemplary community and corporate citizen in the communities they serve as well as an active member of the Chamber of Commerce," Henline said.
Michael Ellis, owner of Papa John's Pizza, earned the first ever Above and Beyond Service Award, which is presented to a business, organization or individual for their commitment to delivering "above and beyond" customer service, earning them exceptionally high marks in customer satisfaction. Christy Hines with Performance Motors presented the award.
Cynthia Hammer, regional director of Catholic Charities West Virginia, was deemed Citizen of the Year, which is an award presented to a Randolph County resident "who has served the community through acts of heroism, humanitarianism or charitable and other outstanding service," said presenter Nathaniel Bonnell with Citizens Bank of West Virginia.
The Business Woman of the Year Award went to Certified Public Accountant Christy Tribble, "who stands out in the community by having high standards, including innovative progress, customer service, ethics and a positive image," said presenter Hoy Ferguson with Davis Trust Company.
T. Richard "Dick" Harvey of Mountain Valley Bank -who was once the youngest bank president in the state - was awarded the Businessman of the Year Award by Brad Schumacher with Huntington Bank.
Jim Bialek with Bialek Insurance presented longtime health care administrator Ron LaNeve with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
"This award recipient has been an exceptional citizen in our business and local community, and there's no one more deserving of this distinction," Bialek said.
Outgoing Davis & Elkins College president G.T. "Buck" Smith was honored with the Educator of the Year Award by Jim Jackson of Elkins Fordland. Future D&E president Michael Mihalyo accepted the award on behalf of Smith, who was unable to attend Wednesday's banquet.
Kathy Vance of Kathy's Decorating and Designs won the You Make It Happen Award, which was delivered by John Smith of Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. The award is given to a Chamber member who made significant contributions and/or commitments to Randolph County in the past year, Smith said.
ERCCC President Ray LaMora named Brian Elliott the Edward Jones Chamber Member of the Year. This award recognizes a person who has advanced the Chamber's mission, objectives or programs.
Randolph County Development Authority Executive Director Robbie Morris surprised Kate Reed, outgoing ERCCC executive director, with the Young Leader of the Year Award.
A tearful Reed, who recently resigned from her post to take a position with the state Chamber of Commerce, thanked the ERCCC board of directors for their continual support.
"It's been an honor serving you," she said. "I've never been with an organization that's so open to new ideas and growth. I know this organization is going to continue to be a driving force working toward a greater future for Randolph County."
Kenny Sexton, owner of American Mountain Theater, served as the emcee for Wednesday's awards banquet.
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