Brush Valley chamber salutes members at annual awards dinner
RANSHAW - Each of the six winners at the Brush Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce 14th annual awards dinner Thursday night at Brady Fire Company possess leadership, commitment, support and service to the community.
One year after her husband, Chris, was named Member of the Year, Tara Venna claimed the prestigious award presented near the end of the program that recognizes
dedication and unselfish contributions to the chamber and the communities it serves.
Tara Venna was presented a plaque by her husband, who served as emcee. Chris Venna is chamber treasurer and principal of Shamokin Area Middle-High School.
Chamber president Pamela Burns of First National Bank of Pennsylvania gave a brief welcoming address and assisted with the award presentations.
Tara Venna has been a registered nurse in the community for 17 years, including 14 focusing on community health, home care and hospice for residents in the Brush Valley region.
"I am honored and surprised," she said. "Every one of the nominees deserve this award. We are all here to improve economic and sociological growth and make the area better. We are lucky to live in an area where we know and trust people and have family and friends who really care about each other."
She is the market development coordinator with Family Home Medical, Mount Carmel. She has worked as a community liaison and in care management and public relations. She has served as a nursing supervisor and presented programs in infection control and public health.
She is a lifelong resident of the Mount Carmel area.
In addition to being active with the chamber, she serves as a board member of the Northumberland County Council for the Arts and Humanities and volunteers her time with the American Heart Association and at various health screenings in the area.
She earned a nursing degree from Mansfield University and received her clinical education through Robert Packer Hospital and Guthrie Clinics, Sayre.
Other winners include AREA Services of Shamokin, Community Pride Award; Brewser's SportsGrille of Coal Township, Small Business of the Year; Mountain View: A Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Coal Township, Large Business of the Year; Geno Welsh III of Brewser's SportsGrille, Business Person of the Year, and Northumberland County Coroner James Kelley, Elected Official of the Year.
Bernie Rumberger, owner-operator of AREA Services, thanked the chamber for recognizing the business, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
The ambulance service, which also is operated by Rumberger's sister, Gia Koshinskie, and brother, Eric Rumberger, has grown from four to 80 employees with three locations in Northumberland County.
It offers ambulance transport including advance life support services (paramedics) and basic life support (EMTs) as well as wheelchair transportation.
Co-owners Dan Hauer and Welsh accepted the award for Brewser's.
"We are extremely proud of where we established our business," Hauer stated. "We love the coal region and we provide steady income to 35 families."
The popular bar/restaurant with a sports theme opened Sept. 3, 2008, and has become a "destination" for coal region cuisine for the past five years. It employs 35 people.
Hauer, Welsh and many of their employees are active in the community.
Mountain View: A Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, has been serving the community since 1972 and previously was owned by Northumberland County for many years.
On Jan. 10, 2010, the manor was purchased by Complete Healthcare Resources Inc. and has undergone extensive renovations. Future plans include the addition of a therapeutic gym, dining rooms and a larger activity space.
The center is a 271-bed skilled nursing facility that employs 350 people. It offers short-term rehabilitation and community living.
Administrator Tony Cooper and business development specialist Amy Zalar accepted the plaque on behalf of the nursing center.
Cooper said, "We are proud to serve the community and look forward to continuing our service for a long, long time."
Welsh said he was humbled and honored to receive the Business Person of the Year Award. He praised his business partner, Hauer, and commended his father, Gene Welsh, for serving as a great mentor.
Welsh and Hauer are graduates of Shamokin Area and Our Lady of Lourdes Regional high schools, respectively. They both won the chamber's Community Pride Award last year. Hauer also is a teacher at Southern Columbia Area's G.C. Hartman Elementary School.
Welsh earned a degree in business administration and accounting from King's College and volunteers his time coaching, mentoring and teaching young and aspiring entrepreneurs on what it takes to make it in the business world.
He has been working in the restaurant industry since he was a kid and was raised in a family of entrepreneurs, including his father and mother, Denise, who have been in business for 32 years.
Kelley is the owner of James Kelley Funeral Home and has been a licensed funeral director since 1985. Prior to being elected coroner in 2001, he served as chief deputy coroner and deputy coroner under former coroner Richard H. Ulrich for 12 years.
He is certified by the Office of the Attorney General in medicolegal death investigations and is one of only two coroners statewide to be appointed as a liaison to the Pennsylvania Association of Coroners Board of Education.
He is very active in the community and also volunteered to work with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City following the 911 terroristic attacks. He also volunteered his services following the December 2012 shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
The dinner was sponsored by Luzerne County Community College and catered by Scicchitano Catering of Kulpmont.
Floral sponsors were Chris and Tara Venna.
Whitney Fetterman, executive director of the chamber, was unable to attend due to a medical emergency involving her brother, Craig Fetterman, whom Chris Venna urged the crowd to keep in their prayers.
In addition to Burns and Venna, other chamber officers are vice president Mike Begis of KPI Technology and secretary Ed Christiano, executive director of Northumberland County Housing Authority.
Regional vice presidents are Harry Morgan of PA CareerLink, and William Richie of First Columbia Bank & Trust of Elysburg.
Board members are Joe D'Andrea of Clear Channel Media, Jody Berry of M&T Bank, Gino Sinopoli of Gigi's LLC, Coal Township Manager Rob Slaby, Gale Zalar of Central Susquehanna Opportunities Inc., Deb Yeager of Susquehanna Bank, Nicole Edmondson of Luzerne County Community College, Northumberland County Planning Director Pat Mack and Dave Barry of The News-Item.
Other award nominees were:
Member of the Year - Yeager, Christiano, community member Steve Minker and Sandy Winhofer of UNB Bank and former Chamber executive director.
Elected Official of the Year - Coal Township Commissioner Craig Fetterman, Ralpho Township Supervisor Blaine Madara, Mount Carmel Mayor Phil "Bing" Cimino and Northumberland County Commissioner Stephen Bridy.
Business Person of the Year - Warren Altomare of Family Home Medical, Teri MacBride of PPL Corporation, Mike Woytowich of Wealth Professionals Inc., Amy Zalar and Rick Durdach of Durdach Bros. Inc., Paxinos.
Large Business of the Year - PPL Corporation of Bloomsburg, Durdach Bros. Inc., McCann School of Business, Sunbury, Service Electric Cablevision Inc., Northumberland, and Spectrum Technologies, Paxinos.
Small Business of the Year - Beverly's Flower Shop, Shamokin, Joseph J. Stutz Inc. Funeral Home, Mount Carmel, KPI Technology, Elysburg, Shimock's Furniture, Kulpmont, Irish Isle Provision Company Inc., Coal Township, and Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area, Coal Township.
Community Pride Award - Lower Anthracite Region Recreation Committee, Coal Township, Brady Fire Company, UNB Bank, Mount Carmel, Northumberland County Council for the Arts, Shamokin, and Central Susquehanna Opportunities Inc., Shamokin.