by Kate Shunney
Morgan County Commissioner Bill Clark was the surprise star of the evening on Thursday, September 14 as the Berkeley Springs-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce honored local people who have made an extraordinary contribution to county residents and the business community.
Nine honorees took the spotlight in a revamped event that combined Apple Butter Festival Hall of Fame recognitions and new Chamber of Commerce Community Awards.
The recipient of the Chamber’s highest award – the Morganite – was kept secret until the end of the award banquet.
Bill Clark was described as someone who has never stopped working for the good of Morgan County and its communities, even after he retired from a full career in regional economic development.
CNB Bank President Mark Harrell, in reading a nomination letter on behalf of Clark, said the county native wakes up each morning strategizing about how to make the county a better place to live and work.
Clark said he wasn’t sure how it had happened that he was chosen for the award, but he acknowledged he is constantly working on behalf of the county’s growth.
Echoing a phrase that Governor Jim Justice often uses about the state of West Virginia, Clark said, “There are people who love Morgan County as much as I do, but there’s nobody who loves it more.”
The Morganite presentation capped off Community Awards given to following people:
–Ian Helmick, Educator of the Year
–Tammy Davison, Employee of the Year
–Blue Flame, Inc., Small Business of the Year
— War Memorial Hospital, Large Business of the Year
— Kevin Barney, Community Hero of the Year
— Cindy Hovermale, Community Service Award.
Festival Hall of Fame
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jules Happy Rone also added two new members to the Apple Butter Festival Hall of Fame – master quilter Jane Frenke and businesswoman Stephanie Rebant.
Frenke was recognized not just for her talent as a fabric artist who has created and made several Apple Butter Festival quilts, but as a mentor to other local quilters and artists.
Rebant was praised for her “tireless” work to promote tourism in Berkeley Springs through numerous avenues as a leader for Travel Berkeley Springs and as a business owner.
Frenke and Rebant join 77 other individual and organizational members of the Apple Butter Festival Hall of Fame, which was created in the 25th year of the festival.
The 2023 Apple Butter Festival takes place on October 7 and 8 in downtown Berkeley Springs. This will be the 48th annual festival.