Nine graduates of the Leadership Carbon program, an adult leadership development program, were told this week that "hard work and determination will get you everywhere."

The speaker during the graduation program was Keith McCall, Speaker of the House of Representatives and a state representative for 28 years.

Leadership Carbon is sponsored by the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce.

McCall told how he never actually aspired to be the Speaker of the House, but it was long hours and hard work which helped him to attain the position.

He also advised the class of a lesson his father taught him; that "your ears will never get you into trouble."

The graduation program was held at the Blue Ridge Country Club in Palmerton.

The members of the class are:

Ÿ RoniSue Ahner, representing borough of Nesquehoning.

Ÿ Sharon Cimino of Mauch Chunk Trust Company.

Ÿ Patricia A. DeSousa of Blue Mountain Health System.

Ÿ Brenda L. Koons, borough of Lehighton.

Ÿ Carleen Ladden of Pencor Services.

Ÿ John T. McGuire of Air Products.

Ÿ Amy Teresa Rhyder, self employed.

Ÿ Terri Rock of PIC of Lehigh Valley.

Ÿ Adam R. Weaver of William G. Schwab & Associates.

Graduates were presented with several awards, gifts, and certificates by McCall, Elissa G. Thorne of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor; Wayne Nothstein, Carbon County Commissioner; Ann Pilcher of the Leadership Carbon Steering Committee, and Dave Althouse, chairman of the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce.

Donald Snyder, president of Lehigh Carbon Community College, presented each graduate with a LCCC certificate.

One of the highlights was detailing the Class of 2010's group project, which will be a "Youth Leadership Carbon" camp for 12 Carbon County high school students.

Each member of the class had a role in detailing the camp. It will be held June 14-18, with the theme being "Living in Diverse Carbon County."

Leadership Carbon graduates will have various instruction roles in the camp, with topics to be covered including arts & entertainment, history, health, the criminal justice system, the importance of budgeting and good credit, and career opportunities.

A graduation program for the camp will be held June 18 at Jim Thorpe Memorial Hall.

DeSousa said it is hoped the camp will become an annual event.

Thorne said applications are now available for the Leadership Carbon Class of 2011. She said some changes are planned for next year's class, including an introduction to "the top 10 treasures of Carbon County."

Thorne challenged the class members.

"We hope you will decide to become involved in some way in Carbon County," she said.

McCall was one of the founders of Leadership Carbon. He said the was a collaboration of four or five people back in 1998 – among them were the late Sen. James J. Rhoades and Lee Bond – who conducted a county-wide meeting to assess the needs in the county. From that meeting came Partners for Progress, which was the original sponsor of Leadership Carbon.

The state lawmaker told how he became involved in politics; that his father, the late Thomas McCall, served in the House before him. In the middle of Thomas McCall's fourth term, he was stricken and died from a heart attack at the age of 46.

"Here I am, at age 50, in the General Assembly for 28 years," he said, adding that he was first elected at age 22.

He said one of his biggest obstacles in the state legislature was getting recognition for Carbon County, since Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have such large delegations. To get the recognition, his father started the Northeast Delegation. Thanks to the delegation, he eventually was named chairman of the Consumer Affairs Committee and then chairman of the powerful Transportation Committee.

McCall told the class that a key element of success is to always "make people feel they are important and part of the process."

In addition, he said the most important thing he did was promote a vision.

"You must make people understand why you have that goal," he stated.

Another piece of advice, he said, is "treat people the way you want to be treated."

McCall touched on the financial crisis in the state, noting that the budget deficit will continue to rise into the billions of dollars and that a tax increase appears to be inevitable.

The welcoming address was by Dave Althouse, chairman of the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce.

Patrick H. Reilly, past president of Partners for Progress, offered the invocation.