Elegant evening

The president-elect of the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce praised those who work to make the community a better place, and several of those businesses and individuals were honored at Friday’s annual dinner at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

“Our community would not be as special as it is without the people who volunteer their time,” Sam Nolte said. “We in Upshur County are blessed to have a city council more than willing to work with the county commission, and a county commission that is more than willing to work with the city council. We are way ahead of the curve when it comes to that.”

Carol Long was honored as the Citizen of Year for her more than 40 years of dedicated volunteer service to several organizations across Upshur County.

Long helped to start the Upshur County Christmas Store and has served with the West Virginia Strawberry Festival in a variety of roles for many years.

Long has also served as the chair of the American Red Cross Disaster Council, and she has helped raise more than $60,000 for the American Heart Association.

She has also been active with the Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, several school booster organizations, the Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Tennerton Council.

“I love my community, whether it be Buckhannon, Tennerton or Upshur County as a whole,” Long said. “If you love your community and want it to flourish, it’s your duty. I do it because I love my community.”

The Industry of the Year honor went to St. Joseph’s Hospital, which had previously been honored in 1988. The hospital welcomed seven new physicians this year, even expanding the medical services offered at the facility. St. Joseph’s Hospital, which employs more than 450 people, has served Buckhannon and its neighboring towns for more than 90 years.

Sue Johnson-Phillippe, the president and chief executive officer for the hospital, told the gathering of a recent letter sent to her by a man who had graduated from Wesleyan 65 years ago and was blessed by the care of the hospital. The letter told of the man’s mother needing a costly surgery, one which would have forced him to drop out of college had the hospital not covered the medical cost itself. Some recent events had prompted the man to reflect back on his life.

“His St. Joe’s experience was pivotal in his life,” Johnson-Phillippe said. “He sent us a check for $1,000. That epitomizes that St. Joe’s has been here for everybody.”

The Small Business of the Year was Main Street Antiques and Collectibles, which has been part of the Buckhannon community since 1972. It recently to its current location in 2012, and it is owned by Doug and Yvonne Stewart and their son Brian.

“We are happy being on Main Street with lots of things going on downtown,” Yvonne Stewart said.

Linda Wellings, who was unable to attend the dinner because of a family emergency, was named the 2012 Business Woman of the Year. Wellings has twice been honored as a Distinguished West Virginian, and she has been named the West Virginia Small Business Person of the Year and the West Virginia Workforce’s Outstanding Partner.

The 2012 Business Man of the Year, C.J. Rylands, thanked those who have worked toward the betterment of the community. He said working with those people has been “very fulfilling.

“It’s amazing what you can get done when everyone is working together for the best of the community.”

Contact John Wickline by email at jwickline@theintermountain.com.