Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber recognizes excellence

BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce has recognized those in our community for going above and beyond in service to the community.

The evening started out with keynote speaker Shane Lyons, West Virginia University athletic director, addressing the athletic programs at WVU. With a 93 million dollar budget, he spoke about the importance of athletics in the economic sector in Morgantown and the state of West Virginia. “Part of what we are trying to do here is to be the best, not just ok,” Lyons said as he referred to working toward building facilities in football.  He touched on his role of being a leader and said, “I will continue to push our department to strive for excellence in everything we do.” He then spoke about holding his athletes to a high academic standard along with high performance standards. “We have an impressive overall GPA in athletics of 3.2,” Lyons stated. “We strive for excellence in all we do.”  He ended his keynote speech by taking two questions and telling attendees, “We are playing for the state, when we win, everybody wins.”

The rest of the evening focused on awarding organizations and people, who have set an example of excellence in the community. These people were acknowledged for rising above and beyond, making Buckhannon and Upshur County the best place it can be.

The first award was given to the Parish House for the Organization of the Year 2018.

Part of the Methodist Conference, the Parish House has been committed to working with others in Buckhannon and Upshur County offering outreach ministry with the United Methodist congregations of Upshur County, plus Volga and Hacker Valley in Barbour and Lewis counties. It houses organizations like Crosslines, a community agency that provides assistance of various kinds to local residents in need, and, it partners with other local churches, agencies, and West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Its mission is to minister to the immediate physical, mental and emotional needs of the people of Upshur County and beyond to advance social change, and it’s been doing so for over 27 years. When the great flood of 1985 struck, and then in 1986, when many local miners were laid off, “Crosslines” was established in 1987 with a core of volunteers, as an information referral agency only. It quickly became an agency dedicated to actively helping persons pay utility bills and assisting with other financial burdens. Crosslines is chartered as a separate non-profit corporation with an ecumenical board. In 1991, after being housed in various donated spaces, a permanent center was established, to include Crosslines and other services on College Avenue in 1992, and incorporated as a non-profit by the State of West Virginia. A group of volunteers started clothing distribution on the second and third floors of The Parish House, and they eventually moved into the building directly behind, naming it the “Clothes Closet.” Today, Clothes Closet sales raise almost $60,000 yearly for administrative costs with limited staff and a multitude of volunteers. They serve hundreds of “neighbors” annually. In 1996, housing repair ministry began and summer work teams from several states helped repair homes in our area, and established relationships, good will, and financial support. Through the work of Crosslines, The Parish House currently offers emergency aid for utilities, food, clothing, medical needs, rent, prescriptions, personal items and cleaning supplies, layettes for newborns, school supplies, home repair, community gardens, and more. Free hot meals are now offered on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays to anyone who wishes to eat lunch. Those meals are provided by local churches and other organizations. The Upshur Cooperative Parish has hosted youth exchange trips to Germany, in collaboration with Methodist churches abroad, funded by the strawberry pancake breakfast during festival. The Parish House assists the Upshur Christmas Store where eligible parents purchase new toys at reduced prices and obtain free books and warm winter clothing for their children in recent years, The Parish House has responded to the needs of homeless and transient individuals. In addition, it hosts and assists with holiday meals for those who do not wish to be alone at Thanksgiving and Christmas or for those who do not have the financial means to prepare a traditional holiday meal. The Parish House also provides approximately 600 holiday meal baskets for families at Thanksgiving and then again at Christmas. It now participates in the state’s Neighborhood Investment Program. Parish House staff, volunteers, trustees and Parish Council members have addressed some basic health care needs by providing blood pressure checks and flu shots, as well as hosting special programs such as healthy cooking classes. The Parish House is grateful for its on-going support from community service groups, and affirms its work in outreach ministry with effectiveness, respect and compassion for all. Staff and volunteers of The Parish House are adamant that they do not “serve clients,” but rather are there to provide assistance to our “neighbors” in Upshur County.

The next award was given to Micrologic as the 2018 Business of the Year winner. Micrologic is owned by Emiel Butcher and Mike Sherrell. Their humble beginnings started right in Upshur County. They are passionate about their ability to say “yes” to solving the connectivity constraints this community faces. Since 1993, this business has exhibited unmatched service, while raising their hand to take on sometimes difficult projects that truly matter despite the hard work and road blocks involved. Passionate about serving the heart of rural West Virginia, Micrologic is always looking to make lasting partnerships and create custom solutions for their customers. Through cutting edge innovation, this growing company connects thousands of people daily, providing internet, security and networking solutions, accomplishing more year after year, which recently includes:

• Connectivity in both the Audra and Watters Smith State Parks.

• Partnering with the City of Buckhannon and the Upshur County CVB to install a speaker system along on Main Street.

• Partnering with Grant County Development Authority, this business was able to extend their services and install wireless internet for businesses who operate in the Grant County’s Industrial Park

• Perhaps their biggest project lately was initiating the Community Connect Grant, a 1,000-sq. mile broadband expansion project to bring broadband to over 3,000 unserved homes at affordable rates.

Micrologic has been contracted to upgrade three existing towers and construct 26 new towers in Upshur, Barbour and Randolph counties to increase connectivity to broadband throughout our rural region.

The next award was given to Mrs. Amberle Jenkins. She was named 2018 Business Woman of the year. Jenkins is a member of the Buckhannon-Upshur High School graduating class of 1976. She is the daughter of the late Leland Donzel and Martha Jean Romine. She is the eldest of six children, having four younger sisters and a brother. She is married to Philip, who is retired from the City of Buckhannon, and they have a daughter, Jessica, who’s married to Daniel Huff, an owner of Comfortech in Buckhannon. Immediately upon graduating from B-UHS, she started her long tenure with the City of Buckhannon. Her service with the city is now 43 years and counting. Over the past four decades, she has become highly knowledgeable about all facets of municipal government. In September of 2000, she was designated by the city council to assume the role of assistant city recorder, and has continued to serve in that capacity for the last 19 years. In 2016, she was elevated to the roll of director of finance and administration, while also serving as the office manager at city hall. She is the chief budgetary officer for Buckhannon, and oversees all accounts for the General Fund and the city’s four utility boards. With 85 fulltime employees and several additional seasonal workers, she also serves as the human resource manager for the city assisting employees to understand benefits, revenue, and insurance packages. She has long been one of the primary points of contact for all municipal operations for the City of Buckhannon. She has served as one of the primary data and technology officers for the city. She is well known as being the first person to the office every morning, and the last one to leave in the evening. She demonstrates impeccable character and favors no person over another. She embodies fairness, empathy, honesty, friendliness, while steadfastly demonstrating the most excellent work ethic. She has been particularly supportive of the city’s efforts to restore the Colonial Theatre and the new multi-use building for Stockert Youth Center.

The next award was given to Mr. Bob Skinner. He was awarded the 2018 Business Man of the Year. Everyone knows that the presence of West Virginia Wesleyan College in the community is crucial to the social, educational, and economic vitality in Buckhannon. The college plays an integral role in making Buckhannon the shining star it is for everyone who lives and works here. Throughout the college’s history, countless key players have helped Wesleyan grow and flourish into the school it is today. Names like Bennett Hutchinson, the college’s first president, Stanley Martin, president of the school in the 1960s, when the school saw its largest physical plant growth spirt, Jay Rockefeller, president in the 1970s, before going on to serve West Virginia as Governor, and then U.S. Senator, Thomas Courtice, and Pamela Balch come to mind.

For the past 40 years, throughout Bobcat Nation, Bob Skinner has been the name thousands have associated with West Virginia Wesleyan College. Starting out, he has served as director of campus activities, sports information, housing, greek life, then to admissions where he was the director for 18 years. Since 2010, he is the vice president for advancement. He has been recognized nationally by colleges and universities for achievements in advancement, and admissions. Under his leadership, Wesleyan secured a $33 million capital campaign, focused on enhancing the school’s tradition, and empowering its future. Most recently, he, and the members of the advancement staff team, helped Wesleyan meet the required $2 million Title III endowment challenge which, in turn, helped grow the college’s endowment by $4 million.  His success at the college, and in life, can be attributed to his gift of creating, building, and fostering relationships. When he was the director of admissions, he knew where every single student was from, what their major was, who their parents were, and what they wanted to do with their lives. Now, as vice president for advancement, he knows where alumni live, work, their kids’ and spouses’ names, and what connects them back to their Home Among the Hills. He is Mr. Wesleyan. No one knows Wesleyan, or its people, the way Bob Skinner does. Outside of the campus borders, he has served as president of the St. Joseph’s Hospital’s Board of Directors, president of the Upshur County Development Authority, the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Corridor H Board of Directors,  president of the United Way campaign in the 1980s, and various board positions. Currently he is a trustee, at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church. He embodies the teachings of John Wesley – to always “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Lastly, but surely not least, Tappan Squires was named the 2018 Citizen of the Year.

A native of Buckhannon, born in 1958, she was also a member of the Buckhannon-Upshur High School graduating class of 1976. She graduated from West Virginia University in 1980 with a degree in Physical Education and Safety. She followed that up with graduate degrees in 1989 from West Virginia University in Special Education and School Health Administration. She was a fixture at Buckhannon-Upshur High School as a member of the faculty beginning in 1985 through 2018. She was named faculty member of the year during the 1999-2000 school year, and then again during the 2017-2018 school year. At the highschool, she was faculty chair of the Health and PE Departments, and student council advisor. She was also the prom advisor, active with the tennis teams, assistant girls’ basketball coach, and of course, assistant swim coach. She was an original member of the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Athletic Hall of Fame committee. Outside of the high school walls, she served on the Upshur County Park Board, was an assistant youth league soccer coach, a board member of the Buckhannon Swim Club, and a member of the Buckhannon Chapter A of P.E.O. Tappan bravely and courageously battled breast cancer, diagnosed in the spring of 2016, until the end of her life on December 31, 2018. Tappan showed an entire community how to live life to the fullest, with grace, passion, encouragement, power, and finesse.

Few people have touched lives like Tappan. She had a way with everyone; young and old, rich and poor, athletically gifted, or not. She made everyone feel welcome in her gym, in her office, in her pool, on her court, in her home, in her community. She was the card lady. Whether it be a birthday, wedding, anniversary, or celebration of accomplishment, you got a card. If you lost a loved one, you got a card.

Buckhannon lost a larger-than life figure – a wife, mother, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, coach, teacher, mentor, and friend. It’s said often: “everyone is irreplaceable,” but that’s not possible when it comes to Tappan. She was one of a kind, and leaves behind a great legacy.

She was Buckhannon blue and white through and through, and most deserving of the award.


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