Carbon Chamber and Economic Development Corporation honored three people who have contributed to the success of Carbon County at the annual dinner held Wednesday night at the Mahoning Valley Country Club. More than 160 people attended the holiday event. The theme for the evening was "Celebrate the Magic."

Honored were Ron Tirpak, with the Bill Bayer Lifetime Achievement Award; Kovatch Mobile Equipment as the Business of the Year; and Shannon Eidem, as the Volunteer of the Year

Presenting the Bill Bayer Lifetime Achievement Award to Tirpak was Carbon County Commissioner William O'Gurek."

"This year's recipient has been a supporter of economic development in our community since it's inception in 1984," said O'Gurek. "With a degree in civil and sanitary engineering, Ron began his career at PennDOT, staying for 18 years, with 10 as the District 5 bridge engineer before retiring."

O'Gurek said that Ron was instrumental in founding the Carbon County Economic Development Corporation and served as it's president for over 25 years.

"This man is a true gentleman," said O'Gurek. "He is both a friend and a leader."

Tirpak thanked CCEDC for the recognition."

"It's been a privilege and an honor to be here," said Tirpak.

He noted that he would like to see the organization grow and suggested that each person in the room bring in four new members.

O'Gurek said that the Bill Bayer Lifetime Achievement Award was established three years ago in honor of a man who gave significantly to both the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce and the Carbon County Economic Development Corporation.

"After the two organizations came together this year, it seemed more fitting as the new operation is housed out of attorney Bayer's old office at 137 South St., Lehighton," said O'Gurek.

Bayer served both organization as legal counsel (pro bono) and was also a found board member on both boards.

Presenting the Business of the Year award was Jack Sturm, last year's recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Sturm said that he was privileged to present the award to Sonny Kovatch of Kovatch Mobile Equipment, Nesquehoning.

KME was founded in 1946 by World War II veteran John Kovatch Jr., who was the driving force behind six decades of steady growth of KME. Kovatch organization has become one of Carbon County's largest employers and in the past several months has added more than 200 positions to its workforce.

"To honor their contributions to our economic strength, we give the Business of the Year award to Kovatch Mobile Equipment Corporation," said Sturm.

Accepting the award on behalf of the company was John Kovatch III, president and CEO.

"The ships getting bigger," said Kovatch. "It's gotten bigger to steer."

Kovatch then introduced family members who are assisting in running the business. He said that the company added 258 positions in the past few months, bringing the total of employees to more than 800.

"We have become a global company," said Kovatch. "We do have a global presense."

Eidem was presented her award by Dawn Ferrante, executive director of the CCEDC.

"Volunteers are the heart and soul of our organization," said Ferrante. "Originally a partner with economic development, Shannon Eidem is involved in four committees at CCEDC. She volunteers for the Ambassador Events committee, the Education committee, Business and Education committee and Marketing committee," said Ferrante.

Ferrante also noted that during the day, Shannon supports veterans by assisting them finding employment in Carbon County as the state Veteran's representative. She also leads the Carbon County Job Fair, which happens twice annually.

"Shannon is a strong contributor to economic development and the businesses of Carbon County and works tirelessly in the background for veterans and our community."

"It's an honor for me to be here," said Eidem. "For me, helping the veterans is personal."

Ferrante also recognized Elissa Garofalo with an Appreciation Award for her role in Leadership Carbon.

State Rep. Doyle Heffley also presented each recipient with a House of Representatives citation.

Also speaking was T. Anthony Iannelli, president and CEO of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. Iannelli thanked the CCEDC for inviting him into the community.

"We try to be a true partnership," he said. "Thank you all for your support."

Mike Harleman, president of the CCEDC, chaired the business portion of the meeting.

As part of the business agenda, the organization voted to adopt bylaws and elected directors. They are Craig Zurn, Mike Harleman, Joe Federanich and Joseph Russo.