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Chamber ceremony, dinner honors business leaders

HECTOR—The Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce held the 122nd annual dinner celebration Saturday, Jan. 22 at Logan Ridge Estates. Nearly 300 people attended the winter gala. The chamber honored area business and business owners with awards for community spirit, leader in business, lifetime achievement, and introduced a new inaugural award.
The Community Service Award, recognizing a business or an individual that has demonstrated leadership, encouraged civic initiatives, and has positively impacted the community, was awarded to Tony Vickio for his work with Spirit of Schuyler. Started by Vickio, the Spirit of Schuyler is a volunteer organization that is dedicated to helping improve the quality of life in Schuyler County. Working with other county organizations it provides financial assistance for Schuyler County residents in time of emergency. In his acceptance speech, Vickio said it all started one Christmas when he said, “Instead of sitting here drinking beer, we should be doing something for the people of Schuyler County. That was the beginning.”
Sal Purpura and Bill Tague of Jerlando’s Ristorante & Pizzeria won the Business People of the Year Award. Established in 1993, Jerlando’s now seats approximately 150 at its Franklin Street location. Tague emphasized that Jerlando’s success comes from being a family business with both men, their wives and their children all working together.
The Lifetime Achievement Award honors a person or business for demonstrating “staying power” as an established business, actively involved in community and civic organizations for at least 15 years, respected and recognized throughout the community, and must be of the stature as to keep the award prestigious and to compliment past and future winners. This award went to Thomas Clifford. Clifford Motors was established, as Clifford stated, in 1975, when gas was 25 cents a gallon, a new car was $4,800, and “there was a Ford in the White House.”
An inaugural award, the Max Neal Award, was presented to Neal by Chamber President Rebekah LaMoreaux. Neal has been involved with the chamber for over 20 years and has stepped up to serve as interim president on more than one occasion. She was instrumental in creating new programs, membership improvement, assisting and training the staff. Neal commented that even though she is “now retired, I’m not gone. I’ll still be around.” Honoring her, LaMoreaux described her by quoting John Quincy Adams, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”



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