CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – The many accomplishments of Clarion County individuals and businesses were highlighted on Saturday night at the Clarion Area Chamber of Business and Industry’s annual meeting and awards dinner including the naming of Cook Forest business owner Matt Kaye as Citizen of the Year and a posthumous award for Randall Stom for the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Kaye was lauded for his many Cook Forest businesses and community involvement and Stom for his community involvement as Clarion County Coroner, Clarion Kiwanis, musical performances, and more.
The 2019 Business of the Year- Economic Development Award was presented to the Clarion County YMCA, and the Business Education Award went to the Clarion Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.
Donna and Tim Cochran, of Knox, received the Douglas L. Sharrar Volunteer of the Year Award for their years of service connected with the annual Autumn Leaf Parade and other community events such as Knox Horsethief Days.
Jennifer Keth, who has served as board president in 2017, 2018, and 2019, was named as chair for the 67th Annual Allegheny Toyota Autumn Leaf Festival. Kimberly Titley will serve as board president.
“My name is Michael Guth, and my family owns Allegheny Toyota,” said Guth to the large crowd at the Clarion University Gemmell Complex, “Once again, we are happy and very proud to be a part of the festival…I wonder what it will look like 67 years from today.
“The successful common denominator is simply the local Clarion County community that comes together.”
The theme of “ALF 2020: Falling into the Future,” was submitted by Lyn Nesbitt of Clarion, and the logo was designed by Dylan Bender, a student at Clarion University.
Citizen of the Year: Matt Kaye
As a teenager, Matt began working in the customer service industry.
He was born on March 2, 1971, the son of Art and Bonnie Kaye and grew up on Old Fryburg Road in Lucinda.
He graduated from North Clarion High School in 1989.
He married his childhood sweetheart, Stacy, in 1992, then left the area in 1994 for Stacy’s military career for over 20 years with the United States Coast Guard. This also brought flexibility to adapt to any situation and develop entrepreneurial goals. Matt worked at Denny’s for 10 years as a general and/or district manager in Kentucky and Indiana. He also worked for other restaurants and at the Sawmill Restaurant in different capacities, gaining an extensive knowledge of the service industry.
During Stacy’s military career, they lived in Cape Hatteras, NC; Louisville, KY; Washington D.C. and Boston, MA until she retired in 2016 and they returned home.
Matt has also been a contract rural carrier for the United States Postal Service for the Cooksburg delivery route since 2007, adding the Marienville route in 2017.
He and his wife purchased the former Laurel Oaks cabins in 2007, now renamed the Fair Winds in the Forest Cabins and Lodge. They later acquired Whispering Oaks Cabins in 2011 and then Cook Riverside Cabins in 2016, along with the Pale Whale Canoe Fleet, Cooksburg Café, and Cooksburg Dry Goods Gift Shop, which is when Fair Winds Cabins was created. Fair Winds Cabins Inc. has approximately 45 employees, many of whom live in Clarion County.
“Our citizen of the year is always working behind the scenes to better others and our community,” said Becker. “He is an excellent businessman who believes in promoting other businesses, even competitors to help strengthen our local economy. As an employer, he is fair-minded and serves as a mentor to many of the young people who work for him during the summer months.”
Matt also recently stepped in to oversee the operations of the Cook Forest Sawmill Center, putting in many hours cleaning buildings, organizing the summer programs, volunteering at many festivals and working the box office for the theater on the weekends. He has donated time, money, and materials, all with the hopes of keeping Verna Leith’s dream alive.
When not managing one of his own businesses, he can be found find waiting on tables at the Forest Nook Restaurant on weekends to help a fellow business owner so that theatergoers are served quickly.
He is also active in his church, and volunteers and serves on several committees, including the Hotel Tax Committees in Clarion County, Jefferson County, and Forest County, PA Great Outdoors, Cook Forest Sawmill Center, and the Cook Forest Vacation Bureau.
Matt and Stacy are the proud parents of two sons, Drew, 24, and Isaac, 21. Drew is a graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Technology and Isaac will graduate this May from Clarion University. Both sons work for Fair Winds Cabins Inc.
Lifetime Achievement: Randall Stom
Randall was born on February 25, 1963, in Sacramento, California, to Dale and Betty Lee Stom. He was a 1981 graduate of Clarion-Limestone and Clarion University in 1985, followed by earning a master’s degree in Science Education in 1987. He also earned a Post-Graduate Doctoral Studies in Education and in Education Administration degree in 1991 from the University of South Carolina.
Hunter Stom, son of Randall, accepted the award in his father’s honor.
He returned to Clarion to be with his dad, Dale. He then also pursued a lifelong dream to become a funeral director, and in 2012, he graduated with honors from the Pennsylvania Institute of Mortuary Science in Pittsburgh.
He was an educator and a funeral director for Goble Funeral Home and Crematory at the time of his death and served as Deputy Coroner under Terry Shaffer before being elected to office as Clarion County coroner in 2018.
He became involved in suicide prevention and helped Clarion County obtain a $20,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health to establish a quick response team to assist families and first responders in the case of a suicide. He was active in the addiction treatment efforts and was involved in making AA meetings available in our communities. He was a Recovery Champion Award Recipient, an award given only to two individuals for helping others “find, achieve, and sustain recovery.”
His love of music was well known as a member of both the Chancel Choir at the First United Methodist in Church and the Clarion Community Choir. A fan of the stage and comedy, he volunteered countless times sharing his musical and acting talents, including the church’s annual Broadway Methodist Style.
Our recipient’s leadership was well noted locally and greatly appreciated.
He was often sought after for his knowledge and, of course, his willingness to volunteer his time.
He was president of Clarion Kiwanis Club. He received the Distinguished Club Award from the Pennsylvania district of the Kiwanis clubs and was instrumental in developing the BUG program. BUG stands for “bringing up grades” and the purpose behind the program was to engage elementary students in better study habits to improve their grades. He served on the board of directors for Pennies from Heaven, served on the board of directors of SAFE, and was an advocate for domestic violence victims.
He was a proud father of sons Hunter Stom (Samantha) and Jordan Stom (Catherine) and of his daughter Macy (Zachary) Angstadt.
He had a deep love for helping others, for his family, friends, community and for his life. “He loved, and loved fiercely,” said one friend.
Tim and Donna are a husband and wife team who have been volunteering their time and efforts to the Chamber, especially for the Autumn Leaf Festival, for many years.
Donna was born in Oil City, a daughter of Douglas and Deanna Sharrar. She has four older siblings Tracy, Steve, Jeff, and Scott. She is a graduate of Keystone High School and has over 26 years of experience in the financial industry, including Farmers National Bank since 2011 as a branch manager at the Cranberry location.
She has served as parade marshal for the Clarion Hospital Tournament of Leaves Parade for the past 16 years. She has handled every aspect of the parade including line-up, map preparations, confirmation packets, security and organizing of volunteers, and the handling of any issues that may arise during the lineup and the execution of the parade.
Tim was also born in Oil City and raised in Knox, a son of Clifford and Flo Cochran. He has an older brother, Rich, and is a graduate of Keystone High School. Tim did a two-year tour with the U.S. Army and during his tour, a job opened for a full-time active position at the old reserve center by the Clarion Mall. He also did a three-year tour with Desert Storm before finishing his education at Clarion University. He is a director of employee relations and asset management for Clarion County and is the tax collector for Knox and Shippenville Boroughs.
Tim also has been the parade Co-Marshal for the Clarion Hospital Tournament of Leaves Parade for the past 10 years. He has also worked every aspect of the parade and has also volunteered in many capacities at the chamber both during and outside of the ALF.
“They’re always willing to lend a hand when needed, both with the Autumn Leaf Festival and with other events throughout the year in the Clarion and Knox communities,” said Becker. “They also volunteered during the night and the wee hours of the morning to help mark the streets and set up the craft vendors who attend the Kronospan USA Farmers and Crafters Day. They also serve on the Knox Horsethief Parade Committee and volunteer in an accounting capacity for the Knox Volunteer Fire Department for their fundraisers.”
The couple was married in October 1998 and have a daughter Courtney and a son Kobe. Courtney is married to Kyle Colwell, and Kobe is a junior at Clarion University. Their most prized possessions are their two granddaughters, Karleigh and Laken, and a grandson, Cole.
“Their tireless efforts deserve to be acknowledged,” continued Becker. “While we hope they will continue to serve as parade marshals for the parade and volunteer at the chamber for years to come, the recognition they don’t ask for but deserve is long overdue.”
Business of the Year-Economic Development: Clarion County YMCA
The Clarion County YMCA had quite a year in 2019.
For example, the YMCA increased the number of people employed by 40. Prior to the opening of the new YMCA in 2019, it grew from 25 to 65 for a 160 percent increase. It expanded from a 10,000 square foot building that was only a fitness center to a 40,000 square foot building that is now a full-service YMCA.
“When I think about being business of the year in terms of economic development, I just have so many people to thank,” said Jesse Kelley, branch director, in accepting the award.
“I’m a football guy, so it goes back to teamwork for me. In the words of legendary head coach, Bo Schembechler, from the University of Michigan, it’s about the team and I think the first team that we should thank because we’re always spending a lot of time at the Y or were bringing them with us to the Y is our families.”
“My wife, who has been my rock and makes tremendous sacrifices that allow me to do what I do. The second team is our volunteers, board members, former board members, campaign cabinet co-chairs, Melissa Bauer and Al Lander the Kriebel family and our donors, so this is just a very special award.”
“We just very much appreciate it. I know I’m forgetting people, but God bless you all. Thank you.”
YMCA services include childcare center, warm water pool equipped for physical therapy, swim classes and lap swimming, a full-size gymnasium, walking/running track, fitness center, wellness area with new cardio and strength machines, a free weights area, child watch, and young adult area, multipurpose room, lobby, Chapel, kitchen, state of the art locker rooms including a family/adaptive locker room area with three private areas, elevator, and staff offices.
Membership has grown from 1,850 on the day it opened to a current membership of 5,278. The growth of 200 percent is unheard of in the YMCA community.
Highlights during 2019 include 515 children who have learned how to swim and senior membership population is almost at 1,000, which has doubled in 12 months. Currently, there are 76 children in child care and 76 in the before-and-after school programs, 20 seventh graders are receiving free memberships due to scholarships.
The $12,000,000 building offers amazing scenic views of the Clarion Oaks golf course all year round.
The YMCA is open to all regardless of their ability to pay, race, gender, or religion.
Business Education Partner: Clarion Healthcare and Rehabilitation
A business education partnership is when schools and businesses, industry, governments and/or community organizations come together, establish goals for students, and construct and implement a plan of action for achieving those goals. They can involve a single class or individual students paired with private partners, entire school boards, universities, trade schools, hundreds of students, and anywhere in between.
Clarion Healthcare and Rehabilitation maintains a partnership with the Clarion Hospital to give intern students experience in doing rounds at the facility, providing critical and valuable hands-on education. They host a quarterly Community Education Series for the public, as well as the Clarion University nursing students. Many of these programs are part of ongoing community awareness of the unique change associated with aging and how to navigate the short-term and long-term care system.
They have a continuing partnership with both Clarion Area Elementary and Clarion Area High School to give the students a place to volunteer their time and provide job shadowing opportunities year-round. In addition to their skills training and opportunities, they make financial donations, including those made to Charitable Deeds and Services.