The Board of Directors of the Sonny Kovatch Scholarship Foundation presented six students with scholarships during the second annual Sonny Kovatch Scholarship dinner held at Macaluso's at the Lantern in Nesquehoning.

The scholarships were created in honor and memory of John J. "Sonny" Kovatch Jr., and his dedication to work, community and the many employees of Kovatch Mobile Equipment Corp. (KME) and its affiliates in Nesquehoning.

The scholarship winners are selected annually by Directors from among all applications received, based on certain criteria, e.g. the applicant must be a child, grandchild or stepchild of an employee of Kovatch and must maintain a 3.0 GPA for the current academic year. How-ever, the Directors' primary focus on selecting applicants is on the student's methods of giving back to the community.

Sonny was a lifelong resident of Nesquehoning, business pioneer and community leader who devoted 65 years to building success in business and the local community.

During the presentation friends and family spoke of Sonny's strong belief in the principle that one should give back to the community. They also talked about his multi-faceted approach to fulfilling this commitment, ranging from simply making financial contributions to worthy organizations, to providing on-the-job training for people just starting out. Co-workers mentioned Sonny's countless devotion to the area and economic development efforts.

Prior to his passing Sonny turned the reins of running the company over to his son. But he still kept an oversight role and visited the business every day, retaining an untiring drive which had led to the current success of the firm.

"Sonny came home from WWII and immediately began a business. As part of the greatest generation, he was a significant contributor to the growth and quality of life in this region, " said John Kovatch III. "While he never got a chance for a secondary education himself, he strongly believed that education was the key to future generations' success."

The annual scholarships are awarded on the basis of several criteria, with a primary focus on community service, and taking into account each individual applicant's particular circumstances and worthiness, as evaluated and determined by the Board of Directors.

This year's scholarship recipients were William E. Stalgaitis of Nesquehoning, receiving $5,000; Michael E. Stauffer of Nesquehoning, receiving $2,500; Tyler D. Kunkel of Tamaqua, receiving $2,500; Eric P. Entrup Jr. of Walnutport, receiving $2,500; and Kelci Koch of Lehighton, receiving $2,500.

Also receiving a $5,000 scholarship was Nicole L. Kattner of Boise, Idaho. It was noted that Kattner had participated in over 500 hours of community service. Kovatch III said, "She is an example of someone who exemplifies the principles upon which the scholarship was founded." In an appreciation letter, Kattner wrote, "I was both excited and thrilled to learn that I have been awarded this scholarship." She added, "Thank you again for this wonderful gift and the determination and dedication of the management of the Kovatch Corporation for making this scholarship available to your employee's families.

Foundation members pointed out that most of these funds came from private donations. They added their appreciations for the generosity of all who contributed. They added, "We congratulate all of the deserving students who have been selected this year, and look forward to a successful year ahead, and to making significant scholarship awards again next Spring.

Kovatch III ended with, "We're proud that these awards are one of the largest scholarship programs in the area and we look forward continuing to reward hard work and to help our youth achieve their goals."