In his own quiet way, Emerson Musser has become one of Tamaqua area's most cherished citizens through what they call an "incredible" record of service.

Musser delivers medicine for St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital. He also delivers nourishment to the elderly by helping with Tamaqua Area Meals on Wheels. At Hometown Fire Company, "He makes the best pancakes east of the Mississippi," said Dr. Joe Urenovitch, president, Tamaqua Industrial Development Enterprises (TIDE).

On Wednesday night, Urenovitch and 80 community leaders and members of the public gathered at the Tamaqua Community Center for the 60th Annual Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce/Greater Tamaqua Industrial Development Enterprises (TIDE) Community Dinner. They used the opportunity to let the Hometown resident know how much they think of him.

"He's chief pancake maker at the Hometown Fire Company breakfasts," said Urenovitch, noting that Musser does his volunteer work "with gusto and commitment."

Musser relocated to Tamaqua in 1958 to obtain employment with Sun Oil Company, Tamaqua Terminal. One of his first acts of service was to become involved at Hometown Fire Company, where he served as president and has been a volunteer for 50 years.

Musser has been a Meals on Wheels volunteer since 1990. At St. Luke's, he has accumulated over 4,000 hours of volunteer service to the Coaldale hospital, where he has been a recipient of a President's Call to Service Award.

Last night, Musser received more recognition at the start of the dinner in the form of a U.S. Senate citation presented by Sen. David G. Argall, R-29, congratulating Musser for his outstanding level of community volunteerism and a "great honor" well deserved.

He also received a U.S. House of Representatives proclamation presented by Rep. Jerry P. Knowles, R-124.

"It's incredible what you do for the community," said Knowles. "I am particularly touched by your volunteerism with Hometown Fire Company – 50 years! I was 11 years old when you became a volunteer."

Accolades and compliments arrived from those near and far.

At one point Linda Yulanavage, chamber executive director, read a letter from former resident Marilyn Funk Kennedy, who congratulated Musser and wife Joyce for the level of distinction they've earned together.

Musser is a quiet and humble gentleman who prefers to work behind the scenes and with little or no fanfare. When called to the podium to accept the award, he appeared to be overwhelmed and almost speechless by the amount of recognition. He chose not to give a speech, but simply offered a few gracious words.

"I'm so honored," Musser said. "I have hundreds of people to thank. Thank you all for coming."

The dinner also included a TIDE update provided by Urenovitch, who emphasized that the park increased its headcount by 22 additional jobs even during a struggling economy. He said the park hosts seven companies and employs 461 people, not including retail companies of Hometown Commons. Total investment in plant and equipment amounts to $64.8 million.

Urenovitch also cited the recent addition of Elk Lighting as another achievement. The company designs, manufactures, sells and distributes indoor and outdoor lighting products and is based in the former Hanesbrand facility. Elk Lighting could add another 40 to 45 jobs to the park, said Urenovitch.

Providing a Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce update, Todd Miller, president, explained that new blood and new initiatives will provide a base for stronger committee structure, along with the strengthening of relationships with existing organizations.

For instance, the board welcomed Kim Noel, Sheryl Beltz and Brian Seitz.

"It's great to have new members, people who weren't involved before," noted Miller. In addition, management of a Tamaqua Area Community Partnership (TACP) grant has allowed the hiring of an administrative assistant, Amanda Kalce, with Eileen Barron moving to an assistant directorship.

Micah Gursky of the chamber board and TACP thanked all who offered award nominations to the Chamber selection committee, a group of seven individuals representing a cross-section of the community. He said the job of selecting a winner was difficult.

In one of the highlights of the evening, Gursky introduced previous award winners present at the dinner: Randy Gormley, Todd Miller, Jerry Knowles, Judy Hoppes, Pat Freeh-Stefanek, Bob Evans, Floyd Zimmerman, Linda Yulanavage, Bill Fegley and Tony Maff.

The year's accomplishments in detail were distributed to all attendees in the '2010 Tamaqua Area Community Progress Report,' a 100-page, full-color book produced by Yulanavage.

The welcome and invocation were provided by Miller.

Dinner was catered by A & C Catering.