By PJ Martin
Office/Reporter, Metcalfe Division
The September 24th Chamber of Commerce Breakfast celebrated 25 years of the Edmonton-Metcalfe County Chamber of Commerce.
President Torrie Osbon presented a historical summary of the chamber. Originally incorporated on February 13, 1986, by 16 members, the chamber office was not established until its revitalization in 1994 and in September that year Gaye Shaw was hired. Although the office has moved from several locations, it was permanently located in 2000 in the newly renovated Bill Wilson building.
The chamber has grown since 1987s membership of just 32 to membership in 2018 of 378. That is why it is referred to as the “biggest little chamber in the Commonwealth.”
The chamber Business of the Quarter award was presented to the Metcalfe County Schools. Dr. Benny Lile accepted the award and thanked the chamber noting how wonderful it is to see the community come together at the breakfast.
Farmers RECC Director of Public Communications, Carolyn Pennington presented a check for $2,000 from FRECC to Patty Bunch of the Family Resource Center for the Backpack Program. “We understand that it’s hard for students to learn if they’re not sure where their next meal is coming from,” said Pennington. The Backpack Program provides nutritious, easy to prepare foods to children over the weekends when food is not readily available to them. Currently, the Backpack Program is serving 69 children across the district according to Bunch.
Three employees of the Metcalfe County School system who help students transition from the classroom to the workforce were on hand. The first, Geneva Scroggy is the Career Study and Dual Credit Liaison for students at the high school. Scroggy stated that when she began there were around 30 students in the work-ready program and now there are 54.
Students, mostly juniors and seniors, apply for jobs through the program and attend classes’ part of the day and work the remaining time. “I feel like a lot of those students have really prospered,” said Scroggy.
Four of Scroggy’s students were on hand to talk about their experiences with the work-ready program. Tyler Bray, who is hoping to become a teacher is assistant teaching in the classroom. Abbey Cline is the student in charge at the Old School Café donut shop. Miranda England who is working at the Howard & Howard Law office. H.J. Hawkins who is pursuing Agriculture and working for his father on the family farm.
The next to speak was Bendy Zurmehly and Krissy Billingsley who are Student Employment Coordinators with the school. These ladies work with the Community Work Transition Program which helps students with disabilities to gain skills and become work-ready. “I have seen these students flourish when we take them out into the community, and see them grow, and see them realize things that they can accomplish. Just because they had a little assistance,” stated Zurmehly.
Billingsley listed some of the areas they provide assistance with as job shadowing, job training, volunteering, apprenticeships, social independence skills, soft skills, financial literacy, provide disability support services, and career options. “I just want to say thank you to our local community business owners, because without you guys we could not provide these services for our students. It’s great that you guys open your doors, let these kids into your businesses, and let them gain job skills,” added Billingsley.
Barn Lot Theater’s Executive Assistant Kyle Hadley spoke on behalf of the breakfast sponsor announcing that next year will be the theater’s 40 anniversary season. The theater which began at the open stage in Bowling Park has grown into “Kentucky’s only self-sustaining theater.”
“Next year is a very special season. We call it our favorites for our favorites. These are all shows we are bringing back because they hold a special place in our hearts,” noted Hadley.
Barn Lot Theater also sponsored door prizes and as with past chamber breakfasts, the delicious food was catered by Diane’s Cakes and Catering.