STUDENT OF THE YEAR — J.P. Oatman (center) the SACC Student of the Year for 2014 posed with Concord Town Supervisor Gary Eppolito (left) and Springville Trustee Terry Skelton (right) after accepting his award. Photos by Lizz Schumer.
SPRINGVILLE — The Springville Area Chamber of Commerce recognized a student of the year for the first time, at its annual awards gala on March 22.
Residents filled the St. Aloysius parish hall, to recognize the citizen of the year, the business of the year, the student of the year and most of all, the Springville area community.
“This is always a big night for Springville,” said SACC President Bill Gugino. “It’s great to see people come out to support the community.”
In welcoming the attendees to the event, Gugino spoke about the chamber’s new slogan: “Why not Springville? Why not now?” and what it means for the future.
“We looked at where we’ve been and where we’re going and tackle it the best we could,” Gugino explained. “Springville is at the end of Erie County and at the end of Cattaraugus County. We’re at the center of Western New York.
“We’re ready to promote Springville in a way we have not, in the past,” he continued. “There are so many advantages to being here, we want people to understand that and put Springville on the map like it hasn’t been before.”
AN AWARD-WINNING TEAM — Joan Ely (holding blue plaque) and her team at M&T Bank won the business of the year award. Photo by Marsha Reding.
Grover Riefler and Kean Stimm spoke about the new wind turbine plant Kean Wind Turbines plans to locate right outside the Springville border, at Riefler’s former plant. The initiative, which Riefler said he hopes will launch in six months, will create 75 jobs to start, with the potential for up to 400.
After dinner, catered by Colden Country Inn, the awards ceremony kicked off with the first-ever “Spirit of Springville” student of the year award. This award was presented to J. P. Oatman, an Eagle Scout, former Boys State representative, S-GI student and football player. Springville Village Trustee Terry Skelton presented Oatman with a proclamation from the village of Springville and Concord Town Supervisor Gary Eppolito read off a proclamation from the town of Concord, both recognizing Oatman’s achievements.
The “Spirit of Springville” citizen of the year award was presented by last year’s honoree, Riefler, to Dave Batterson Jr., who stood in for his father, who was unable to attend. This award, known as the “Spirit of Springville” award, recognized Batterson for being an exemplary Springville resident, as Concord Town Historian, a founding member of the village clock committee, local businessman and more.
Dave Batterson Jr. accepted the awards on behalf of his father.
“He talks the talk and walks the walk,” Riefler said, of Batterson. “I don’t think I have to tell anyone how wonderful Dave is.”
Skelton and Eppolito also presented Dave Batterson Jr. with proclamations for his father, in recognition of all the elder Batterson has done for both communities.
Jeanne Ellis, proprietor of Oasis Bed and Breakfast, a former business of the year award winner, presented the “Spirit of Springville” business of the year plaque to Joanne Ely, who accepted it on behalf of the Springville branch of M&T Bank.
“Whether you’re uptown, downtown or around town, you’re the spirit-filled Springville that makes it happen,” Ely said, during her speech. She thanked the village, her customers and her staff, for their dedication to helping the branch be the best it could be.
Eppolito and Skelton both presented Ely with proclamations recognizing the bank as among other attributes, in Eppolito’s words, “a warm, friendly place to do your banking.”
After the awards ceremony, Gugino spoke on the chamber’s ongoing mission, for the organization and the community, as a whole. He referenced a book, “Jump,” recently released by former Springville pastor Matt Eisenhower.
“It’s a story about life, about taking a chance,” Gugino explained. “We [the chamber] are gonna take some chances. We may fail along the way, but we’re gonna try. Sometimes, you just need to do things a little bit differently, and that’s what we’re going to do.”