Clarion Area Chamber Annual Awards Dinner

Date: March 05, 2011

Save the Date - Next Year's Annual Awards Dinner is scheduled for Saturday, March 10th. Check our calendar on those dates for updates.


Congratulations to the 2010 Annual Award Winners!

Rick Tote
Citizen of the Year

The winner of the 2010 Citizen of the Year Award is Rick Tote. Rick has played a leadership role in many organizations throughout Clarion County. He has been involved with Immaculate Conception Church, Clarion-Limestone sports program, Knights of Columbus, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Little League Coach and the Clarion Rotary. He served as school board member for 8 years, athletic director for 4  years, was an integral advocate for the construction of the Immaculate Conception School playground, currently is a school board advisory board member and is a Eucharistic minister.  Rick served for 9 years as a Clarion-Limestone booster member and treasurer, spearheaded construction of the press box, was instrumental in the construction of the C-L Sports Complex and spends countless hours working the concession stand and ticket booths.  Rick has been an active member of the Knights of Columbus since 1998 and was elected District Deputy in 2007.  His involvement with the Knights include but is not limited to working the sausage stand during The Farmers National Bank Autumn Leaf Festival™, free throw, COAL chair, Knights Mass chair, pirates chair, football sweeps chair and Steelers raffle chair.  He is a member of the multi-phasic blood drive and the exchange student committees and is the past president for Clarion Rotary.  His latest role is Chairperson of the Rotary Auction which will be held Saturday, March 12, 2011 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on C93 Radio. 

Peggy Alexander accepting the award posthumously for her husband Judge Charles Alexander
Lifetime Achievement Award

This year’s recipient of the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded posthumously to Judge Charles Alexander. Judge Alexander was a man who truly served his family, friends and community in countless capacities.  Every human interaction and every event was a story.  He lived a life of brilliant episodes, each with its own importance, its own significance and took a personal interest in people who came before him.  Many contributions will have long lasting positive effects for the citizens of Clarion County.  He began his legal career in 1957 in private practice with H. Ray Pope and for the next 31 years practiced law, seemingly specializing in most every niche in the legal field.  Judge Alexander established our Central Court system to process criminal cases efficiently and the Education Program for Divorcing Parents to help parents facing difficult custody issues.  He took great care to apply the law as it was intended to be applied and to explain his rulings in common sense terms.  He communicated effectively to the public about legal matters and promoted confidence in our judicial system. In 1988, he was appointed President Judge of Clarion County by the late Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey and was elected to this position for a ten-year term in 1989.  He retired as county judge in 1998 and began his career as Pennsylvania Senior Judge which he held until July 2007.  He then formed a second law partnership and later returned to the bench in the Spring of 2009 as Senior Judge.  Judge Alexander was a great giving man and husband, a wonderful father and a loyal friend to many.  He was honest, very hard working and dedicated to all his endeavors.  Even though this award is given posthumous, the Chamber is proud to recognize such an outstanding individual who gave himself to his family, friends and community. 

Bird Sommerville
Volunteer of the Year

The winner of the 2010 Douglas L. Sharrar Volunteer of the Year is Bird Sommerville. Bird has been an asset to the Clarion Area Chamber of Business & Industry as well as numerous other businesses in Clarion throughout 2010.  He graciously volunteers weekly at the Chamber office.  Bird is a long standing volunteer for the Arc of Clarion where he serves as the “Membership Coordinator” tracking attendance and membership renewals. He is a volunteer for the American Cancer Society and is a member of the Senior Corps-RSVP.  The Chamber staff looks forward to his arrival each and every week and on a side note, he actually adjusts his schedule to volunteer additional hours at the Chamber as needed.  We are grateful for the opportunity to present this award to Bird.

Gale Owen, Administrator
Business of the Year -
Business Education Partner

The winner of the 2010 Business of the Year in the Business Education Partner division is Clarview Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. Clarview is dedicated to providing quality educational experiences to assist community members with the opportunity to better their education and employment opportunities which will lead to higher incomes within their households for the past 31 years, and plans to continue to reach out for many years to come.  They maintains a partnership with the Clarion County Career Center to provide a clinical rotation to the students in the Practical Nursing course where they work with the residents; learn charting and medical records, hands-on care, procedures and care.  Clarview Nursing & Rehabilitation Center provides opportunities to individuals requiring clinical rotations and job shadowing for various disciplines and degrees including Clarion University’s Master level speech therapy program. They have participated in the Clarion County Junior Achievement program since the 2006-2007 school year through serving on the board of director and just recently completed teaching their fifth course.   

Casey O'Toole, Office Manager
Business of the Year -
Economic Development Division

Northwest Savings Bank enjoyed a banner year in 2010. Among its accomplishments was being ranked highest in customer satisfaction in the Mid-Atlantic Region according to the JD Power & Associates 2010 Retail Banking Customer Satisfaction Study.  Another was having Forbes rank it 23rd best in its list of ‘best and worst’ of the hundred largest banks in America.
Last year saw the bank perform well financially.  Northwest saw tremendous loan growth—mortgage, consumer and business loans—during 2010, a time when many banks saw little or no lending activity, and, despite the economic environment, Northwest Savings Bank’s loan delinquency and loan losses were far below industry averages. Led by its banner Switch Checking Accounts, the local bank saw deposit levels leap upward. Northwest’s Trust and Investment Management Division experienced notable success last year, with assets under management increasing by over 10 percent. Profitability continued as well, and the bank remains well capitalized thanks to its second-step stock sale, which brought in over $688 million in cash. Most important, Northwest served its customers and communities. Northwest is the place “Where People Make the Difference.”  The people involved are not only the bank’s employees, who pledge themselves to customer service, but also the bank’s customers, who make the company’s success possible, and the bank’s neighbors…the people who share Northwest’s home communities here in Clarion County, in Clarion, New Bethlehem, Rimersburg, and Sligo.

Business of the Year -
Community Service Division

This business is always helpful and always available.  Their implement their programs with grace, encouragement and knowledge.  Our award winner this evening cooperates with school districts, churches, corporations, businesses, professional and individuals to find solutions to the problems and needs facing Clarion County.  They brought attention to the local Cancer Center at Clarion Hospital which facilitated a dramatic increase in donations to the Cancer Center and assists cancer patients with special needs such as purchasing of wigs.  This business was the first in the state to conduct a Community Resource Luncheon for the unemployed.  In 2010 they helped 31 families in need with utility and/or rent/mortgage assistance and helped 6 handicapped individuals with ramps for their homes.  Planned and initiated the Bluegrass Festival which brought over 1000 people into our community in March of 2010.  This resulted in an increase of business for hotels, restaurants and retailers.  Reached their fund raising goal in 2010 and in fact, have made their goal for the past 13 years.  The money raised in Clarion County stays in Clarion County.  It is an honor to honor United Way of Clarion County as the 2010  Business of the Year in the Community Service Division.


For more information, contact the Clarion Area Chamber at 814-226-9161 or email

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