Johnston, Harnish Awarded Top Chamber Honors
Amid a sizeable crowd gathered at the McConnellsburg Firehall, community leaders, officials and residents, led by chamber president Deb Toothman, honored the best in business and volunteerism as well as the best in community activism.
Among those recognized through the presentation of awards on April 10 were 2009 Outstanding Citizen Paul Johnston, Person of the Year Dawn Harnish, Loy Garber for outstanding community service and the Dorothy Berry Beauty Salon, recipient of the Excellence In Small Business award.
In bestowing the 2009 Outstanding Citizen award on Paul “P.J.” Johnston, presenter Brenda Gordon pointed out her introduction was a combination “roast” and review reminiscent to the old television show “This Is Your Life.” Gordon, who has worked side-byside with Johnston for an estimated 20 years, shared with the crowd that P.J. has an extensive background in working with the community, including the McConnellsburg Jaycees, the Fulton County Parks and Recreation Commission, Fulton County Little League, Bi-Valley Girls Softball, Mt. Zion Lodge, Great Cove Golf Club Board of Directors, Central Fulton Education Foundation, Central Fulton School District Board of School Directors, McConnellsburg Alumni Association and Fulton Industrial Development Association.
A native of Webster Mills, Johnston, according to Gordon, has been a familyoriented person, helping his father deliver milk at a young age, and a proverbial Boy Scout, always on the lookout to assist others. Over the years, Johnston has held a variety of jobs – bagging groceries and stocking shelves at the local grocery store, beer delivery person and even stints at PennDOT and JLG Industries before undertaking a long career in the banking industry. He is currently employed as a regional market manager for Fulton and Huntingdon counties at F&M Trust.
“Our bank was active in the community, and we could always count on P.J. to help out with whatever was going on at that time. We built a lot of floats and attended many events. This was the time when he became familiar with the term community service, although I’m sure he never thought it would lead to this evening,” said Gordon during her speech .
In accepting the prestigious award, Johnston said, “I do it because I enjoy doing it ... I learned early in life to help others. My Dad is my biggest inspiration. Thank you, Dad, for leading the path.”
Johnston went on to thank both his children and wife Lisa as well as his first boss and the 2008 recipient of the Outstanding Citizen award, Ray Koontz.
Emcee and award presenter Toothman stated she had only met Dawn Harnish, 2009 Person of the Year, two years ago during a vendor setup in Mc- Connellsburg at Fulton Antiques. “I soon thought of her as the attractive blonde with a good head on her shoulders, who wore cowboy boots and drove a tractor, which is every Fulton County man’s dream,” said Toothman of her initial impression of Harnish.
Toothman noted that through ongoing chamber events she learned Harnish was a “workhorse and someone who could be counted on.” “She seemed to be one of the go-to people, and my respect for her grew,” Toothman added.
Dawn along with her husband, Greg, took over operations of the Burnt Cabins Grist Mill and Campground in 2006, and was described as being a community leader, excellent mother, business woman and good organizer.
“Thank you for getting to know me,” Harnish told the crowd in accepting her award. “ ... My husband and I followed our insane dream and here we are. When I moved here I was a little concerned. I knew it was a small, rural community and coming from a small, rural community growing up, I knew it could be difficult coming in from the outside. It’s home here now.”
Loy Garber took home the prestigious Community Service Award for 2009 following a synopsis of his life and service by award presenter Clyde Bookheimer. Bookheimer said Garber, a native of Roaring Spring and all-around natural athlete, learned a variety of skills on the court and baseball diamond that would later serve him well in his career, including 33 years at JLG Industries.
“To say that Loy Garber arrived in Fulton County with a bang is an understatement,” said Bookheimer, of Garber’s aid in Homes On People’s Energy (HOPE), which resulted in the creation of five homes and helped various families help themselves. Garber has also been instrumental part of the Fulton County Library, where he has served as a longtime board member, and various transportation, childcare and fellowship programs.
“The Fulton County Chamber of Commerce recognizes Loy as the spark plug for these activities,” Bookheimer said of Garber, who coincidentally was the 1971 Person of the Year. Garber was also touted as having helped with the creation of Fulton County’s first football team; bringing lights to the Central Fulton sports complex and the little league fields; and was the longtime head coach of the McConnellsburg Spartan baseball team.
“Every time I say goodbye to some of my little leaguers, some of the kids who were in my youth fellowship years ago and certainly the graduating seniors from the high school baseball team, I say if you want to make me proud go into your communities and be a volunteer, because so many things in your communities are operated by those unpaid people called volunteers,” said Garber. “I’m happy to say my three sons have been doing that along with their families. I’m happy to say that my wife, Linda, is very much involved in her community ... .”
In heading up the Excellence in Small Business portion of the evening, presenter Lynn Mellott stated during a time when many small businesses are closing their doors, the Dorothy “Dot” Berry Beauty Salon has not only survived but flourished during these trying times.
Dot started her own salon in 1993 and with a small investment cosigned by her father has grown her business into one of the most sought-after salons in Fulton County, according to Mellott. Berry has received numerous letters of recommendation from clients for her array of services that includes five stylists. In addition, Berry and her staff continually strive to improve on their list of services with ongoing education courses, Mellott said.
“By being a long-standing business owner, Dot has carved a niche out of the beauty industry and given back to the community at every opportunity presented to her,” stated Mellott.
Berry thanked her father for helping her financially 17 years ago before moving on to thank the chamber and the individual responsible for her nomination.
The special awards dinner was sponsored by F&M Trust.