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Chamber honors Centofonti as Young Professional of the Year

Staff Writer
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Ashley Centofonti (right) was recognized as Mineral County's Young Professional as the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce held its annual Summit Awards. Shown presenting her award is chamber president Randy Crane.
Tribune photo by Ronda Wertman

By Ronda Wertman

Tribune Correspondent

KEYSER - “The chamber feels that it is vital to recognize the importance of the contributions young professionals make to their organizations and the community as a whole,” said Mineral County Chamber of Commerce president Randy Crane during the annual Summit Awards.

“This year we are delighted to have three fantastic nominees: Ashley Centofonti of Mineral County Tourism, Luke McKenzie of Emergency Services and Brian Wilson, who runs Queen’s Point Coffee and together with his new wife Kieran, the North Branch Pub,” Crane said.

“Ashley has been working hard to build tourism in Mineral County from the ground up, and has made remarkable progress, despite a decidedly non-tourist kind of year,” said Crane as he announced her as this year’s winner.

Her nomination noted how, “Ashley has been with Mineral County Tourism for almost two years now. In this short time, she has worked hard to begin to get Mineral County on the map as a West Virginia destination. Ashley has made connections at the regional and state level, meets regularly with these connections, and works hand-in-hand with them on projects and other various activities.

“Ashley is very passionate and enthusiastic when it comes to building tourism in Mineral County. Tourism dollars mean economic development in our county. That could lead to more jobs being created, more taxes for the county to collect, and more business for our existing businesses,” said her nomination.

“Luke was again nominated by his staff,” said Crane of the Office of Emergency Services director, adding that he also nominated as Leader of the Year. “To say Luke is an achiever is an understatement.”

“Besides the enormous responsibilities of managing Emergency Services, Luke is very engaged in the community as well. Luke is a pastor with the Methodist Church, the treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce, a volunteer EMT at New Creek Volunteer Fire Department, and best of all is the proud new dad of not one, not two, but three foster children,” Crane said.

His nomination notes how, during the coronavirus pandemic, “he went above and beyond his normal scope of duties. Financially, he has been able to recover a huge amount of money for our county by applying and receiving funding through the CARES ACT.”

“Brian has built an extraordinary business with Queen’s Point Coffee, and people are raving about it, not just in Keyser, but around the area,” continued Crane about the third nominee. “Brian has successfully brought the feel of a major urban coffee house to our very own downtown Keyser.

“This year, he was able to get the North Branch Craft Pub off the ground even with the pandemic looming. Brian understands customer service and marketing inside and out, and always makes everyone feel like a part of the family. His success will only keep growing,” said his nomination.

The chamber of commerce board of directors, in celebrating the county’s best and brightest said, “We are so fortunate to have this kind of talent working every day to build prosperity, help the less fortunate and keep us all safe. Everyone in this room is part of a remarkable story in moving our community forward, especially in this year that we will never forget.”

This year’s Summit Awards were sponsored by WVU Medicine Potomac Valley Hospital. Table sponsors included the Blackburn Family Corporation, First United Bank and Trust, M&T Bank, UMPC Western Maryland, WVU Medicine Potomac Valley Hospital and the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce.