For dedicating years of service to improving Thomas, the town that he loves and the place he was born and raised, Thomas Mayor Matt Quattro received the highest honor at the 35th annual Tucker County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet by being named the 2013 Tuckineer.
The Tuckineer award is annually given to a community member who selflessly strives to make Tucker County a better place to live, work and play. Although the other seven awards presented by the Chamber of Commerce were publicly announced prior to Thursday's banquet at Canaan Valley Resort State Park, the Tuckineer award is always kept a secret until the official award presentation.
Debbie Ritter represented Citizens Bank of West Virginia, the Tuckineer award sponsor, and she presented the award to Quattro. Describing his service to the town of Thomas, she said, "Most people retire and step back from getting involved. Not this individual. ... On any given day he is seen sweeping the streets, shoveling snow, planting flowers, digging in the ground to find a water leak or meeting with prospective individuals who would like to set up a business in our county."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Anna Patrick
In front, from left, are Educator of the Year Eileen Poling, Tuckineer Matt Quattro and Community Service award recipient Kim Bennett, and in back, from left, are Humanitarian and Friend award recipient William ‘Bill’ Evick, Student of the Year Adrianna Bowley and A.J. Rapp, who accepted the TCHS football team’s special recognition award for an outstanding season. Not pictured is Employee of the Year Willard ‘Lee’ Johnson and Business Person of the Year Angie Shockley.
Upon the announcement of his name, Quattro's achievement was celebrated with a standing ovation from the crowd as he made his way to the podium. Visibly shaken, he said, "I don't think I've ever been speechless in my life. This is a complete surprise to me. ... It's a great honor, no question about it."
Quattro thanked those who have helped him in all of his endeavors and gave a thoughtful thank-you to his wife, Frances.
"Without her, I couldn't do any of this stuff. Behind every man is a good woman. I don't have a good woman, I got the best one," he said.
Quattro, his wife and a few other individuals have established the New Historic Thomas, a nonprofit organization which started the Thomas Education Center, which offers self-improvement programs for area residents.
Quattro served on the Thomas City Council for 12 years and is serving his second term as mayor. He is a board member of the Miners and Merchants Bank, board member of the Tucker County landfill and treasurer of the Knights of Columbus.
Quattro's father, Arthur M. "Pap" Quattro, worked in the Tucker County school system his entire career and received the Tuckineer award in 1984. Regarding his award, Quattro said, "It is an honor. (My dad) would be proud. ... I'm very happy to be following in his footsteps."
The Tucker County Chamber of Commerce also honored six more individuals and the entire 2012 Tucker County High School football team for an outstanding season.
Eileen Poling has been teaching in Tucker County since 1974. Over the course of her career, Poling has taught nursery school, fourth, fifth and sixth grade and currently leads the county's Gifted Program.
Upon receiving the Educator of the Year award, Poling thanked the many students she has taught as well as her family.
"I'm a reflection of all these kids," she said. "They all have a piece of my heart and I love every one."
Adrianna Bowley's outstanding academic career with a 4.571 grade point average and involvement with TCHS sports, organizations and extracurricular activities earned her the 2013 Student of the Year award. She is a member of the National Honors Society, a four-year member of the girls basketball team, a three-year member of the track team and a two-year member of the cheer squad.
In the fall, Bowley plans to enroll at West Virginia University to study nursing.
Born and raised in Tucker County, Willard "Lee" Johnson returned to the county after retirement in 2001. He earned the 2013 Employee of the Year award for his exceptional effort working as a driver for the Tucker County Senior Center.
Presenting the award, Bill Smith, CEO of the Tucker County's Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said, "His compassion and caring for each person really makes him invaluable to the program."
Angie Shockley is the founder and CEO of Q&A Associates headquartered in Davis. According to the company's website, Q&A Associates is a family of programs that focus on "working with young adults who have struggled to sustain a productive and positive transition into adulthood." Shockley was unable to attend the banquet, but sent a video to thank the crowd. She said, "I remain committed to the growth and success of our community and for all of us."
Beyond maintaining the day-to-day operations of Mountain Trail Rides in Canaan Valley, Community Service Award recipient Kim Bennett is a member of the Flanagan Hill Church, board member of the Tucker County Chamber of Commerce, secretary of the Potomac Highlands Travel Council, board member of the Tucker County Planning Commission, board member of the Dryfork Recreation Center, member of the Tucker County Farm Bureau and member of the Order of the Eastern Star.
When accepting her award Bennett said, "My goal is always to be a good representative for Tucker County and to look out for Tucker County everywhere I go and in everything I do."
Lois Nelson, representing Cortland Acres, described William "Bill" Evick as a servant when presenting him with the Humanitarian and Friend award.
Nelson said, "He helps others just because. I've seen Bill weekly bring a member to church, hammer away fixing a neighbor's roof, take a friend to an appointment, help someone put up hay, mow someone's grass and, as many of us have done this year, plow snow."
With the team in attendance, head coach A.J. Rapp accepted the special recognition award for the TCHS football team that went undefeated in the regular season and advanced to the semifinal round of the Class A State Playoffs.
"Tucker County has a real reason to be proud of these young men," Rapp said. "These guys worked unbelievably hard to get to where they are at, and it's a definite representation of Tucker County."
Former Mountain Lion football star and current Mountaineer Sports Network sideline reporter Jed Drenning was the banquet's keynote speaker.