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Chamber Highlights Year

By Staff | Dec 17, 2008

Dinner Chairman Larry Tackett, dean of the New Martinsville campus of West Virginia Northern Community College, presents a Van Slider print to Scott Rotruck, right, in appreciation for his part in the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce Celebration Dinner Dec. 16. (Photo by Amy Witschey)

During a time when economic news seems to be bleak, the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce celebrated successes of the past year and hopes for the future during their annual Celebration Dinner Dec. 16.

Howard “Dan” Dague, a pillar of the local business community who passed away Sept. 2, 2008, was honored with a video presentation. It included local business people speaking of his contributions to New Martinsville and Wetzel County, and even society in general.

Dague was very active in the Lions Club, holding virtually ever office, including district governor. Almost singlehandedly, Dague started and maintained the Lions Club Car and Bike Show for Sight. It has grown from approximately 100 entries and raising $2,500 to almost 900 entries and raising almost $20,000.

Dague worked for Bridgeman Brothers Motor Co. and Ohio Valley Ford before opening Country Roads Ford with Norma Binegar. They later purchased Performance Honda. An employee said in the video that Dague asked his employees every morning, “Are you going to make someone happy today?”

His widow, Eva Dague, accepted the chamber’s appreciation for his contribution to society and read a poem of challenge, because that is what she thought Dan would want.

“Dan Dague will be sorely missed by all,” said WCCC President Don Riggenbach.

The keynote speaker for the event was Scott Rotruck, vice president of corporate development for Chesapeake Energy.

Rotruck is a 1997 graduate of WVU and a 1986 MBA graduate of Frostburg State University and has 15 years experience in the coal industry and 10 years experience in the railroad industry. He has served on several boards and is currently the vice-chairman of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife Carol, who is from New Martinsville, have three children.

He spoke of the active well drilling in West Virginia, particularly because of the discovery of the Marcellus shale, which lies 6,000 feet and deeper under the Wetzel County hills. Natural gas in the Marcellus and other shale formations is sometimes found as deep as 9,000 feet below the ground. It is estimated that shale produced four billion cubic feet of gas a day on average last year, or about seven percent of national production, and that shale gas production will increase to nine billion cubic feet a day by 2012, or about 15 percent of expected national production.

He then asked attendees to ask any questions concerning the oil and gas industry and Chesapeake Energy in particular. The questions ranged from leasing, Chesapeake’s origins, the race to obtain leases and permits, and natural gas-powered vehicles.

“If you have any kinds of questions at all, call,” prompted Rotruck. “We want to be as good of a neighbor as we can be.”

“We promise we will work with you as much as we can. We are blessed with some assets in this area. I think you will see an amazing change.”

When asked about the future of the oil and gas industry in light of the lower oil prices of late, Rotruck said he believes the market prices are only temporary. He believes the industry is a lot like whitewater rafting. There are bigger and smaller rapids, but when the waves come, “stay in the boat and paddle like crazy.”

Finally, Riggenbach highlighted the chamber’s accomplishments in the past year. They included several after hours events, ribbon cutting ceremonies, expansion of the board of directors to 21, expansion of the executive committee from four to eight, a new office manager, a new Web site, board training, Flex-E grants, and membership increases.

The dinner was sponsored by Chesapeake Energy, WRRR, WXCR, Power County 104, Magic 99.5, WETZ-1330, WesBanco, PPG, West Virginia Northern Community College, Riggenbach Tile and Carpet, Progressive Bank, Witschey’s Market, Peoples Bancorp, S&S Jewelry, New Martinsville Plaza, Bayer Heritage Federal Credit Union, Grisell Funeral Home, Wetzel County Hospital, and Ogden Publications.