Ray Koontz, Glenn Ward Get Top Chamber Honors
They came from all over Saturday night to pay homage to Fulton County's finest. Amid a large crowd at Mc- Connellsburg Firehall, community leaders and residents gathered to honor the best in business, the best in volunteerism, as well as the best in community activism at the Chamber of Commerce & Tourism's annual awards night.
Among those taking top honors at the event overseen by chamber President Mark Washabaugh and emcee Michael Crampton were Mc- Connellsburg resident and businessman Ray Koontz, Southern Fulton bus contractor Glenn Ward, Glenn and April Hiller of Dott Store and the large volunteer base at the Fulton County Library. The special awards dinner was cosponsored by Tower Bank, which was represented during the celebration by Connie Burgan.
In bestowing the 2008 Outstanding Citizen Award to Ray Koontz, presenter Clyde Bookheimer noted his longtime friend and fellow business leader was born and raised on an extensive farming operation in Bedford County that presented opportunities for Ray and his seven siblings to learn about dairy cows, butchering and the workings of a sugar camp.
"As a teenager, he (Ray) already had a keen eye for judging animals and did a lot of the buying and selling," recalled Bookheimer. Even after marriage to Rose Imber, Ray continued working on the family farm, raising both chickens and turkeys to supplement his $25 monthly income. With his savings, Ray installed his own Delco electric plant.
Taking a leave from farming, Bookheimer said, Ray sold his head of cattle and purchased an International Harvester dealership in Bedford where he sold both farming equipment and household appliances. Expanding his sales into neighboring counties, he moved to Fulton County in 1959 and married Faye Welsh. His IGA grocery store in Hustontown was relocated to a larger facility in McConnellsburg in 1961 and eventually led to Ray's purchase of the Penn's Village Shopping Center.
Bookheimer said as an active community leader, Ray was a founding father of the Fulton Industrial Development Association and later served as its president in 1964. Ray is also an active member and past president of the Mc- Connellsburg Lions Club. By challenging other local business owners to match his monetary donation, the Lions Club was able to construct Lions Club Park that serves as home to the Fulton County Little League. In fact, Ray was honored on the opening day of Little League this spring by the Lions Club and Little League by naming the ball field the "Ray S. Koontz Field."
After having recently suffered a fractured hip and a stroke, Ray was permitted only a brief stop at the annual awards banquet to accept the Outstanding Citizen Award from Bookheimer and the chamber. Son-in-law John Brink, husband of Renee, addressed the crowd on behalf of Ray.
Whether it was serving his country in two branches of the United States military, aiding his brothers in the Warfordsburg Lions Club or hauling a busload of students to and from special events, Glenn Ward's life has been a testimonial to both dedication and service. Thusly, Ward was presented the Person of the Year Award on May 9 by Judy Neil.
Neil stated while Glenn's stint in the military and various jobs often took him away from his wife and four sons for short periods of time, he often says, in spite of being around the world several times, there is no where he would rather be than here in Fulton County.
Glenn spent two years in the Navy between 1945 and 1946. He acknowledges there were only three cooks aboard his ship in World War II, but he jokingly boasts he was still "one of the best cooks," serving 495 naval officers and often manning shifts that ran 3 a.m. to midnight.
Glenn says even though he personally visited some not so good places during some tragic times in history, when afloat in the ocean just the sight of the United States flag would make something stick in his throat. Several years later, between 1950 and 1951, Glenn proudly served with the Air Force during the Korean War as a radio and radar operator, "I figured I've been in the water, so I might as well be in the air too," he often tells people of his military time.
Neil indicated back in the United States, Glenn began doing what he loved the most - raising a family and traveling. Glenn spent 35 years as a truck driver with Anchor Motors in Baltimore, Md., retiring in 1991 after having logged a whopping 4 million miles. Meanwhile, Glenn also began what has been a long and fulfilling career as a bus contractor with the Southern Fulton School District. Sons Randy and Eugene have driven bus for their father during the last 38 years, as has wife Bonnie, who for a time manned the wheel of a 16-passenger bus.
Lovingly known to Southern Fulton's student body as "Pappy," Glenn has undoubtedly made an impact on the kids he has hauled. In 2002, Southern Fulton's senior class dedicated their yearbook to "Pappy Glenn Ward" in appreciation of his time and years of service. He was also the recipient of an honorary chapter FFA degree, which was presented to him by the Southern Fulton chapter of the FFA.
Glenn joined the Warfordsburg Lions Club 37 years ago. However, calling him an "active" member would probably be an unjust or inaccurate statement, Neil said. His participation at meetings is second to none and earned him the Lions Leadership Award for perfect attendance in 2007. With almost four decades spent with the community service organization, Glenn has been president on four occasions and has also been the recipient of the Lion of the Year, Traveling Ambassador and the Melvin Jones Lions Award. He also served as the District 14-L Disaster Fund treasurer for at least 10 years.
On a local level, Glenn has also played an active role with the Huntingdon-Bedford-Fulton Area Agency for multiple years as a member of the senior's Advisory Council under the direction of Executive Director Alan Smith, who was on hand to say several complimentary words about Glenn's service. In accepting his award, Glenn stated his efforts have always been about helping the kids.
Glenn and April Hiller, owners and current operators of Dott Store, took center stage as recipients of the Excellence In Small Business Award. Honored by Neil, the couple took over the village store in June 2002. Neil stated the store, with a general store atmosphere, provides a perfect location for people to sit and talk and catch up on local, state and national news.
Hosting both open mic nights and several presidential debates, life has been breathed back into the store. "Most days it's a lot more work than you would expect," said Glenn Hiller, who noted buying the store was the right move to make his family stronger and better.
"We're on the right path," Hiller stated. "Hopefully, if we don't make too many mistakes we'll be there next year too."
Jamie Brambley, executive director of the Fulton County Library, accepted a special service award plaque on behalf of the countless number of volunteers that work together to ensure the success of both the McConnellsburg and Hustontown branches. Volunteers receiving certificates of appreciation included Carolyn Benson, Betty Gail Faunce, Martin Hann, Sherry Lynn, Kay McBeath, Audrey and Ron Mitchell, Linda Portanova, Charles "Skip" Ramsey, Elder Taylor Reed, Joyce Souders, Judy Tison, Elder Curtis Udal, Jean Kies and Esther Stubbs.
Loy Garber, vice president of the library's board of directors, shared with the crowd the history of the library, which is rich with volunteerism. Garber noted the library has survived and thrived over the decades as a result of the commitment of area volunteers, who logged more than 1,500 hours in 2008. As another testament to their dedication, Garber said that more than 32,000 individuals visited the library last year and there are just under 8,000 active cardholders in existence.