Awards dinner honors local ‘stars’
ELKINS — The Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce honored a number of local “stars” during the annual awards dinner Monday, which this year featured the theme “An Evening with the Stars.”
Keynote speaker Mark Bowe, a native of West Virginia and host of the DIY Network’s “Barnwood Builders” reality show, told chamber members and others in attendance he believes he has identified three things that are important for everyone.
“I think working hard, being a nice person and taking pride in what you do will really help you go a long way,” he said.
Bowe said he developed a good work ethic at a young age, something he learned from his father.
“The whole message is, no matter what you do, just work hard at it — whether it’s your relationship, family job, it doesn’t matter, just go at it,” he said. “I believe that if we can teach people to put boots on every single day and strap them up and go to work somewhere and try really hard, there is going to be somebody else that will pay you to do it.”
Bowe went on to say the country of Bhutan, located in South Asia, measures success by the happiness of its people.
“They measure the success of their country by gross domestic happiness — they measure the success of their country by the smiles on every man, woman and child. Their actual gross domestic product is hydroelectric, and half of the country doesn’t have water or power. That’s awesome, how beautiful is that? They’re not concerned about anything else but being happy,” he said. “I think that kindness goes a long way and it’s infectious.”
When “Barnwood Builders” came to the DIY Network, Bowe said he knew the company would portray West Virginia’s people as kind and hardworking, something he believes is true.
“When I went to meet the people at DIY Network, they were awesome. The man who was the CEO of HGTV, DIY and the Food Channel – he comes down the stairs in jeans and a T-shirt saying hello to the interns. He knew who was pregnant, he knew who was moving. It was crazy, he knew all of the people there. I knew by seeing the leader and the example that he was setting as a kind person, that DIY was not going to make us look like idiots,” he said.
“I get to tell everybody about West Virginia, I get to wave our flag and three million people a week get to watch our show and understand who we are — they get to see how beautiful our state is and we get to portray it every single week, and if any of you have seen the show, you know that our logo is the state of West Virginia and I wear it over my heart because that’s where my heart is.”
Bowe went on to say all people should take pride in what they do and learn how to apologize.
“When I talk about taking pride, I’m talking about if you make something, if you sell something, if you service something, you need to own that. A lot of times that means that you have to lose money to do the right thing. It’s just the way that the world is supposed to be — if you make it, if you sell it, if you service it, you need to own it, and if it’s wrong, you need to make it right,” he said. “I think that in terms of taking pride in what you do, I think we’ve somehow lost the ability to own up to our mistakes, and I think that as generations continue to go, there seems to be no mistakes, nobody is wanting to say I’m sorry.”
The Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce annual awards winners are as follows:
• Gary Clay was named as the recipient of the Tom Williams & Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Award of Distinction.
This award is presented to an exemplary individual who has made significant civic, charitable and community contributions and/or volunteered numerous hours to enhance the quality of life for people in Randolph County.
Clay has spent 34 years with Armstrong World Industries in numerous executive manufacturing positions around the country and several foreign locations, and still provides consulting and special project work for the company.
He is a member of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association Board of Directors, and chairperson of the Education Fund Board that drives work force development and education for the association. In addition, Clay serves as the development director for the United Way of Randolph County Board of Directors and vice-chairperson of the Randolph County Development Authority Board. He also currently is the chair of the West Virginia State Board for the American Red Cross and treasurer of the West Virginia Non-Profit Association Board.
Former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Clay to serve on the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center Board representing the state to improve educational outcomes for all students in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Additionally, he was appointed to the state Curriculum Advisory Board for Career and Technical Education. He also serves on a West Virginia Business Conditions Roundtable for the Richmond Office of the Federal Reserve.
Clay does strategic planning and business consulting for non-profits and for profit organizations. For several years, he has served as moderator for several of the chamber’s legislative luncheons and is a member of the ERCCC Government Relations Committee.
• Jonathan Kyle was the recipient of the Business Man of the Year award, presented to a member of the chamber who is a male business owner or executive who stands out in the community for having high standards, which may include innovative progress, customer service, ethics or positive image.
Kyle learned and diligently practiced early on the critical keys to business success — to know your clients’ needs, to know the products you sell, to provide friendly and outstanding service and to behave with integrity. Kyle is a graduate of Marshall University with a major in business administration who started as an insurance agent and later became an insurance agency owner. Kyle has progressively expanded the geography of his business and, along with his team of professional employees, now provides comprehensive insurance products and services to individuals and commercial clients at six locations.
Kyle is an active member of the community as he serves on the board of directors for the ERCCC and Valley Health Care. He is also a member of the local National Wild Turkey Federation Chapter, National Rifle Association and Tygart Valley Lions Club. In addition, Kyle serves as golf coach for Tygart Valley High School.
He and his wife, Angela, have three children.
This award was sponsored by The Forks Inn.
• Sandra Elza was named Business Woman of the Year, presented to a member of the chamber who is a female business owner or executive who stands out in the community by having high standards, which may include innovative progress, customer service, ethics or positive image.
Elza retired as a CEO in 2002 and re-entered the workforce one month later. In 2011, although Elza had plans to retire, fate led her to a second healthcare CEO position here in Randolph County.
During her tenure at Valley Health Care, she expanded the Mill Creek facility for growth in optometry and acute care, and added radiology and behavioral health services. A new Elkins facility was also opened in March of this year with fun and exciting pediatric areas, eight additional exam rooms, comfortable and private behavioral health therapy rooms, a new-full service pharmacy and large urgent care area.
Under Elza’s leadership, Valley Health Care has expanded school-based health clinics – growing from 5 to 9 — and has added numerous employees. Valley Health facilities have extended operating hours and added or extended numerous services including urgent care, patient care coordination, X-ray, dermatology, substance abuse treatment, women’s health and pharmacy services.
Elza will be retiring in the upcoming months and will leave Valley Health Care and Randolph County with two great medical facilities to continue to serve the community.
This award was sponsored by Davis Trust Company.
• Lavender Fields Assisted Living was named Business of the Year, which goes to a business that is a member of the chamber and is actively involved in the community. The business must have high business standards, including innovative progress, support of business, customer service, ethics and a positive image.
Lavender Fields is an assisted living home located in Beverly. The facility makes residents feel at home and provides care in partnership with the residents. The home features 16 private rooms and the staff takes pride in helping residents make an easy transition into their new living arrangements.
The facility offers residents daily activities and numerous visits from children and pets. Residents and families say they are highly satisfied with the passionate, concerned, cheerful and kind caregivers.
Lavender Fields is co-owned by Judi Rose and Brett McClain.
This award was sponsored by The Inter-Mountain.
• Kathy Vance was named Citizen of the Year, which is presented to a recipient who resides in Randolph County, has served the community through acts of heroism, humanitarianism or charitable and other outstanding service.
Vance’s signature accomplishments in the past year include spearheading the fundraising and placement of United States and West Virginia flags throughout downtown Elkins; leading the charge of painting trash cans and benches in town; and raising the money to place holiday wreaths on light posts on Railroad Avenue and Martin Avenue and lighted snowflakes on Randolph Avenue.
Two years ago, Vance established quarterly town hall meetings to allow citizens to voice opinions and concerns. She is a regular attendee at city council and various committee meetings to give input to city government and to help improve the quality of life in Elkins and Randolph County.
Vance is a graduate of the University of Hard Knocks and a licensed contractor, and is now in her 26th year of business. She is a member of the United Way Kick-Off Auction Committee, annually passes out gifts to Nella’s Nursing Home at Christmas and donates a percentage of her sales for a local charitable organization during her annual “Holiday Ladies Night Out.”
She has served as a judge for the floats in the Mountain State Forest Festival’s grand feature parade for nearly 20 years. Vance is the owner of Kathy’s Decorating & Design.
This award was sponsored by Citizens Bank of West Virginia.
• Melanie Campbell received the honor of Educator of the Year, which is awarded to a respected Randolph County teacher or administrator who serves in an educational capacity and helps ensure educational excellence.
Campbell acts as the hospitality and tourism management program coordinator, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism management and executive chef of Graceland Inn Conference Center, all at Davis & Elkins College.
She holds a bachelor of science degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College and is a certified executive chef with the American Culinary Federation. In the classroom, Campbell shares her skills relating to the hospitality industry by teaching numerous courses.
Campbell is known for accompanying students to The Greenbrier and the Homestead to gain insight into resort operations and has led students on trips to learn about the hospitality industry at Walt Disney World.
She serves as advisor to the Hospitality & Tourism Management Club and is vice president of Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society in Business, Management and Administration at D&E where she has been employed since 2002.
In addition, she was voted “Best Chef” by The Inter-Mountain readership in the 2018 People’s Choice Awards.
This award was sponsored by Advanced Hearing Solutions.
• The Elkins-Randolph County Public Library was named Non-Profit of the Year, an award that is presented to a Randolph County nonprofit organization that, in the pursuit of its mission, has shown significant contributions to the community.
The Elkins-Randolph County Public Library serves 8,600 patrons six days a week and partners with 16 local organizations and businesses to provide education, services and literacy skills in our county.
In the past eight months, the organization has added two chrome books, seven Kindle Fires and one tablet for accessing the internet. In addition, they have boosted their Wi-Fi access to allow unlimited number of patrons to use the internet, currently serving over 900 uses per month. The library also added a Smart TV for use in the building’s meeting room, including a DVD/Blu-Ray player. Preloaded Launch Pads have also been added for subject practice for middle school students.
Future plans for the library include an ongoing, summer-long reading program called Libraries Rock, an interactive month of Harry Potter celebrations and a birthday party for the “boy wizard” on July 30.
In this past year, the library has seen a change in leadership and is now under the directorship of Stephanie Murphy, who has been instrumental in incorporating numerous new programs and increasing library card-holders and patron participation.
This award was sponsored by the Durbin-Greenbrier Valley Railroad.
• Dr. Janna Brown was named Young Leader of the Year, which is presented to an outstanding leader in the community, under the age of 40, who has made significant strides to improve the Elkins/Randolph County area with their talents, progressive thinking and volunteer efforts in the community.
Brown exemplifies the definition of this award as she works to make a difference in the quality of life for the youth and citizens of Randolph County. She serves on the board of directors for Randolph County Young Life and serves as the campaign chair for United Way of Randolph County.
Brown is an internal medicine and pediatrics physician, serves as a guest lecturer on numerous topics and diseases in the United States and Canada and teaches a human anatomy lecture series and instructs an anatomy lab at D&E.
In addition, Brown is the corresponding secretary for philanthropic educational opportunities and works with adaptive swimming, local cancer support organizations and ArtsBank.
This award is sponsored by Cricket Wireless.
• Jess Shaffer was named Chamber Person of the Year, which is given to a chamber member with outstanding performance during 2016 which ultimately furthered the Chamber’s missions, objectives and programs.
Shaffer has volunteered countless hours to the chamber in the past year, particularly during the five-month interim of searching for a new executive director. During this time she kept emails going out to members, updated the website and Facebook, sent invoices and kept the operations of the office running. Following this period, she assisted in providing training and support for the newly hired director.
In addition, Shaffer serves as treasurer for the chamber’s board of directors and on the chamber’s special events and finance committees.
Shaffer also serves as a board member of Elkins Main Street and serves as board treasurer for Generation Randolph. She is employed at Citizens Bank of West Virginia as their digital marketing officer. Shaffer also previously served as the ERCCC executive director.
This award was sponsored by Performance Chevrolet.
The dinner was held at the Phil Gainer Community Center. Scott Goddard was the event emcee. The dinner was catered by Davis & Elkins College.