Chamber recognizes key members in its 75th year

By Ryan Cornell

FRONT ROYAL — The competition’s fierce, but someone’s gotta win.

Each year, the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce selects a group of distinguished individuals, organizations and businesses who stand out in the community.

The chamber, which turns 75 this year, hosted its 69th annual dinner and awards ceremony at the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal last week.

Award recipients included Detective Erik Rosemeck for Public Safety Person of the Year, the United Way of Front Royal-Warren County for Nonprofit of the Year, Mona Nixon for Education Contributor of the Year, Michael Shotton for Entrepreneur of the Year, the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club for Business of the Year and School Division Superintendent Pam McInnis for Citizen of the Year.

Mike O’Dell of WZRV-FM served as emcee for the evening.

Rosemeck, a detective for the Front Royal Police Department, was recognized for an incident he responded to in April 2013. O’Dell said that Rosemeck approached an individual who was attempting to jump off the South Fork Bridge.

“Without regard to his own safety, Detective Erik Edward Rosemeck lunged at the individual and grabbed him while he was attempting to get his other leg over the rail,” O’Dell said.

He said the detective was able to get the individual back over the railing and into custody, preventing the man from harming himself and allowing him to receive mental health care.

The United Way of Front Royal-Warren County, which has helped serve the community for nearly 15 years, was awarded Nonprofit of the Year for its contributions to local agencies. According to O’Dell, the chapter has allocated more than $1 million to these agencies and has provided support through services including Blue Ridge Opportunities, the Community Transitional Housing Program and the Front Royal Women’s Resource Center. United Way President Jackie Bourque accepted the award.

“They’ve taken a lead in reestablishing an agency in our community in helping victims of domestic violence in light of the closing last year of the only organization [Harmony Place] in the area to fill those needs,” O’Dell said.

The Education Contributor of the Year was awarded to Mona Nixon, who founded Mountain Laurel Montessori School in 1989 and has worked at the school for the past 25 years. She was described as a visionary for “pioneering Montessori education in the Shenandoah Valley.”

A new award this year, the Entrepreneur of the Year, recognizes a local founder and business owner who has successfully launched a productive and vital business that’s been in operation for at least two years.

Michael Shotton, who founded Shotton Design LLC in June 2011, received the award for his drive and customer service as well as his time and skills spent volunteering to help various community events and causes.

“He’s helped transform many local businesses and organizations with new looks for websites and logos, all while providing a level of service to his customers that stands above the rest,” O’Dell said.

Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, which opened in 1966, was named Business of the Year for its ability to attract between 40,000 and 50,000 golfers to the area each year. It was also recognized for assisting many nonprofits and for its use as practice greens by high school golf teams from Sherando, Warren County, Skyline and Randolph-Macon Academy. Co-owner and golf professional Richard Runyon accepted the award.

The Citizen of the Year Award was given to Pam McInnis, who is approaching her 13th year as Warren County Public Schools superintendent.

McInnis, who joked that she had been led to the awards banquet “under false pretense,” thanked everyone in the community for contributing.

“We’ve worked really hard to improve our school system and I think we’ve done a good job,” she said. “It still has a way to go, but it is because of the work of lots and lots of people.”

The Chamber of Commerce introduced Kelley Miller of New Look Kitchen & Bath as its incoming chairwoman and its newly elected board members: Allen Taylor of Southern States, Katie Tewell of the Apple House and the Apple House Deli, Dr. Sherri Yoder of Crown Behavior Services and Patrick Nolan of Warren County Memorial Hospital.

More than 500 businesses are members of the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com