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Chamber Holds Yearly Meeting

By Staff | Feb 1, 2017

Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce President Don Riggenbach points out highlights of 2016.

The Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce held its annual yearly meeting last week and gave an annual report of the various ways in which the organization was able to help the community.

The meeting began with a brief presentation by speaker Norman Schwertfeger with WVU Extension, who talked about small town businesses turning their heritage into tourist attractions. He spoke of several towns across the country that had once thrived, but in recent times, their economy has crumbled. These towns found unique ways to come together to promote their history. Schwertfeger stated that New Martinsville was listed as one of the top ten most beautiful towns in West Virginia, per the Nov. 17, 2016 edition of West Virginia Travel. Schwertfeger encouraged the attendees to be proactive in restoring history.

It was announced that last year’s annual business meeting had 55 participants and John Sorrenti of the West Virginia State Auditor’s office was the guest speaker. There were several highlights of 2016 meeting, including the 2015 Pay it Forward winner, Paden City Butterfly Garden. Several classes were available such as Workforce WV employer orientation, branding your business, sexual abuse prevention, and several drug awareness courses. Three separate candidate nights had been arranged during the year and all three were available through radio broadcast.

The Wetzel/Tyler Entrepreneur Pitch was held on October 4, 2016, and there were 65 attendees and seven participants. The winners were Corner 2 Corner Landscaping, Wetzel County Hope & Memories, and Hostilic Health Coach. The event was sponsored by EQT Corporation, Tyler County Development Authority, Vision Shared, and Regional Economic Development Corporation.

The chamber was pleased to announce that it was part of nine different ribbon cuttings, adding businesses throughout the community.There were 12 “Business After Hours” events held last year, one per month, to give members of the community opportunities to better get to know some of the local businesses.

Norman Schwertfeger offers a motivational speech to attendees.

During the 2016 big bucks drawing, Cricket Web Services won $500, Plaza Latina won $250 and other names were drawn but were not present.

There were several community events held during 2016, such as the Shortline Ramp Fest, which had a projected 400 attendees. The ramp cook-off winners were Shooters Saloon & Catering, Veterans Bluegrass Association, and Tom “Pap” Ankrom. The ramp eater was Matthew Fordyce with 39 ramps in one minute.

The Community Awards Event was held in April and had 136 attendees. The awards listed were: Educator of the Year, Elisa Sprowl; Business of the Year, Brooke Lemasters with Bombshell Hair Studios; Citizen of the Year, Pastor Mike Shank; Youth Leader of the Year, Clayton Myers; Professional of the Year, Corporal Roger Spragg; Employee of the Year, Sherry Hill, and Taste of the Valley winner, Azteca Mexican Restaurant. The 17th annual Chili Fest had an estimated 3,500 attendees and the winners included Tasty Freeze, EZ Care, New Martinsville Band Patrons, and James Grant.

The Festival of Trees was held in November and included 15 trees and one wreath to be auctioned off. An impressive $6,114 was raised, to be donated to Gabriel Project of WV, Olive Branch Animal Rescue & Refuge, and The Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center.

It was announced that in August, 35.291 acres of the Wetzel Commerce Park had been sold. There were improvements made to the interior and exterior security cameras, new lights, and the parking has been graveled. The current tenant is CSU Inspections, LLC, and 3.18 acres remains ready for lease or sale.

Some of the goals for the chamber in the upcoming year include flood insurance research and review, to offer a evolving loan program to businesses, focus on business programs, work to develop local relationship networks to promote business activity and business to business exchanges, increase availability of economic development information, continue community events as a way to promote the area, and become partners with local residents and businesses on drug awareness.

The Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce would like to thank all of their 2016 sponsors and are willing to accept any new sponsors for 2017.

If you have a passion for your community and are a team player, the chamber would love to have you as a volunteer. Call 304-455-3825 for more information.