Chamber honors law enforcement, community servants
FORT ASHBY - In a night to honor the contributions of Mineral County’s citizens, businesses and organizations, the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce began its annual Summit Awards with a tribute to law enforcement and first responders.
“It’s really important for us to take time each year to recognize the people who are working so hard in our businesses, the non-profits in our community who are helping those desperately in need, our volunteers, our leaders, our law enforcement and our emergency responders,” said Chamber of Commerce president Randy Crane.
“These are the people we count on to keep our community going, to be there in times of need, to put food on our table and to keep us safe.
‘In the rush of everyday life, we don’t really think about these folks,” he added as he introduced county administrator and director of emergency services Luke McKenzie to present the annual Harry Alt Award.
This year had the most nominees yet as Jessica Liller, Duane Largent, Roger Reall, Robert Haggerty and Robert Smith were recognized for outstanding volunteer service.
“If you ever dial 911 and any of them respond, you are in the best hands in Mineral County,” said McKenzie. Recognized as this year’s recipient was Sgt. Roger Reall of the Mineral County Sheriff’s Department for his volunteer sprit in memory of Alt.
Alt was a past chief and member of Keyser Volunteer Fire Department, past president of the Cumberland Valley Fireman’s Association, West Virginia State Fire Association, and Mineral County Fireman’s Association.
A beloved educator in Mineral County Schools, he was also a devoted instructor with the West Virginia Fire Service and a West Virginia forest fire warden.
Turning to law enforcement, Crane noted the West Virginia State Police, Mineral County Sheriff’s Department, campus police at Potomac State College and all the local departments that “work around the clock in order to protect us.”
Recognized as Officer of the Year this year was the entire Keyser Police Department represented by chief Paul Sabin, who nominated his department.
“To say 2020 was a challenge within in the ranks would be a monumental understatement. As you know the City of Keyser Police Department faced every national challenge as was seen on local and national news, “ Sabin said in his nomination. “We dealt with various protests from a variety of groups. Our already limited budget faced the defund narrative and then COVID-19 became a daily foe to both the citizens of the community we serve and the members who serve.”
Despite these unprecedented challenges, Sabin said his department remained vigilant, professional and committed to service.
“I can only express the pride and honor of being chief to a dedicated police department in which every member could be recognized for this award,” concluded Sabin.
“We appreciate everything that Keyser Police Department and the rest of our law enforcement community does each and every day,” said Crane.
Nominated for Non-Profit of the Year this year, the chamber recognized County United Way and Burlington United Methodist Family Services.
“I cannot overstate what these two organizations mean to Mineral County and the surrounding area. They help provide a safety net for people that simply would fall through the cracks otherwise,” Crane said. “What a gift these organizations provide. The untold story is how many thousands of people who have been helped and went on to resume productive lives in the community.”
Recognized with the award again this year as Burlington United Methodist Family Services.
In a similar award, the Community Service Award recognizes those “volunteering, giving back to the community, not for money, not for notoriety, but because it’s the right thing to do.”
Nominated by chamber members were Dinah Courrier and the Fort Ashby Lions Club.
“If Fort Ashby was incorporated, the Lions Club would be the mayor,” said Crane, noting the impact the organization has from providing medical equipment, space for the food pantry, tending to the cemetery and keeping the street lights lit.
This year’s award was presented to Dinah Courrier, whom Crane described as “a living legend in Keyser” for all the work she has done to help feed children, support the Keyser Rotary chapter, and open the Mineral County Historical Society Museum.”
Crane also announced that Courrier will be the honoree for the 2022 Mineral County Day in Charleston.
In recognizing the Board Member of the Year, Crane explained that the Chamber of Commerce is run by a 13-member board.
“They care deeply about getting this chamber active again, building up our members, presenting information and programs that matter and always advocating for your interests,” he said.
“This year I want to recognize someone who has worked tirelessly, attending every event, planning, reaching out to members, bringing new members in, finding people to serve in different capacities and always there when you need help,” Crane added, naming Lisa Wagoner as this year’s honoree.
In conclusion, Crane offered thanks to those who made the evening possible, including Good Carma Catering, Candlewyck Inn, Brookedale Farms and the local sponsors including WVU Medicine Potomac Valley Hospital, Clearway, M&T Bank, Potomac State College, UMPC Western Maryland, First United Bank and Trust and Sealed Air.