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Chamber Honors Seven For Service And Leadership

By Staff | May 11, 2011

The Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce honored seven individuals at the 2011 Annual Community Awards Dinner sponsored by Chesapeake Energy. Those honored were Carla McBee, Cameron Benson, Debbie Bennett, Lee Jackson, Dana Hall, Brian Spencer, and ArtsLink, Inc.

The Professional of the Year award was presented to Carla McBee. McBee started volunteering for Wetzel County EMS in 1993 in Hundred. She began her paid career EMS in 1996 and has been the Director for eight years. She is a paramedic and instructor for RESA 6 which is adult education. She teaches many different classes to EMS including first aid, CPR, EMT, Mass Casualty Incident, Moulage to name a few. McBee is also Medical Examiner for Wetzel and Tyler counties. She is a member of Quota Club and has been involved with many fund raisers for EMS and Quota. McBee serves on many local and state committees for EMS. She has received the Sam Channell Award for Excellence in EMS and the Paula Dunham award for outstanding contribution and superior commitment to EMS. She has also received an Outstanding Service Award from the Law Enforcement Training and Technology Center where she teaches and volunteers her time. McBee also received a certificate of appreciation from the State of West Virginia for her dedication with the Big Branch Mine Disaster.

The honor of Outstanding Youth went to Cameron Benson. A senior at Magnolia High School, Benson has played football for four years, run track for three years, and has played baseball for one year. He is currently the president of the Student Council at MHS, and is a member of the Mathematics National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta. Benson attends the Lighthouse Community Church where he assists with the youth. He has helped with Helping Hand and has been involved in Young Life of Wetzel and Tyler Counties. Benson plans to attend West Liberty University in the fall and major in criminal justice.

Debbie Bennett was named Employee of the Year. Bennett began working at West Virginia Northern Community College 25 years ago. She began working in the Student Services Center on the Wheeling campus and held positions as a financial aid advisor and was secretary to the vice president of academic affairs. In 2006 she moved to the New Martinsville campus as campus coordinator, a title that was changed to Office Administrator in 2010. She has actively expanded the college’s presence in the community by serving with a variety of local community organizations.

Teacher of the Year was presented to Lee Jackson. Jackson has been a teacher at Magnolia High School for 42 years. He graduated from MHS in 1965 and from West Liberty State College in 1969 with a B.A. degree in social studies/education. In 1973 he graduated from Marshall University with an M.S. degree in geography. Jackson is a member of: New Martinsville United Methodist Church, New Martinsville Lions Club, New Martinsville Moose, West Virginia Education Association, and National Education Association. Married to Carolynn C. Jackson, they have two children: Shawnna Matheny and Brian Jackson; and have four grandchildren.

The honor of Business Owner of the Year was awarded to Dana Hall. Born in Sistersville, Hall is an alumnus of St. Marys High School and attended Lehigh Carbon College in Allentown, Pa. Hall worked as a mechanical designer and project manager for 27 years and has owned two art galleries and a floral and gift shop in Palmerton and Jim Thorpe, Pa. Hall returned to West Virginia in 2005 and opened the Florentine Arts Center in September of 2010. The Florentine Arts Center is a community-based center for the arts in the Ohio Valley. Hall has four daughters: Heather, Carly, Alyson, and Eliza; and four grandchildren.

The Citizen of the Year award went to Brian Spencer. He has worked as a juvenile probation officer, and has worked for Child Protective Services, and as Foster Care and Adoption case manager in Tyler and Wetzel Counties for WVDHHR. Spencer assisted in getting Big Brother/Big Sisters to Wetzel County and worked on the Drug Free community’s board of directors for Tyler/Wetzel Counties. He was named Social Worker of the Year for the Sunbridge Corp. in West Virginia and Kentucky. Spencer volunteers for Helping Hands in Wetzel County, different churches, jails, and nursing homes in the New Martinsville area. His volunteer work includes Christian education coordinator for the New Martinsville Church of God since 1993. Spencer is presently working as a Social Services Director/Admission Director at CareHaven of Pleasants County.

ArtsLink, Inc. was named Outstanding Civic Organization. ArtsLink, Inc. was incorporated in 2001 to increase opportunities for the people of their service area–Wetzel and Tyler Counties–to experience the arts and culture. ArtsLink’s mission is to foster and sustain the rich artistic resources that are essential to the communities we serve and to make the arts universally accessible. ArtsLink has established a center for exhibits, classes, performances, and meetings. ArtsLink has some 300 members, including individuals, families, and small and large businesses. ArtsLink supports local artists with mini-grants, monthly exhibits, and Arts in the Park. ArtsLink’s many activities are made possible through the generosity of local residents and businesses who sponsor our events and make us part of their annual contributions.