CARTHAGE — Described as one the best nights in Carthage, the Carthage Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Business Awards Dinner Oct. 23.

“Tonight we honor the businesses and organizations which make Carthage a community of choice which we call home,” chamber treasurer Robert M. Sligar, the emcee for the evening, said.

His first task of the evening was to recognize the chamber sponsors, which he said adds stability to enable the chamber to host events which drives traffic into the Carthage and provide activities for the residents to enjoy.

After dinner at Belva’s Sahara Restaurant, the honorees were presented with their awards.

Teri Ellis introduced Stefano’s Pizzeria and Restaurant as the Business of the Year.

She told a brief history of Stefano Magro’s journey to Carthage from Sicily by way of the Utica area. After helping his brothers with a pizzeria in Sherburne he decided to branch out on his own and choose Carthage for his pizza shop. That shop, brought back after the 2002 block fire in downtown Carthage, has expanded and branched out to Great Bend. In addition, son Salvadore Margo his wife, Amanda, opened pizzerias in Pulaski in 2003 and Mexico in 2011. They are also planning to open in Adams. After 34 years, Stefano’s continues to be a staple in Carthage — “A little Bit of Italy in Your Own Backyard.” Accepting the award, Salvadore Margo said in “honoring Stefano’s Pizzeria and Restaurant you are really honoring my father.” He told of the senior Margo’s dedication to “making this the best place anyone has ever gone to.” In addition, he spoke of Stefano’s loyalty and commitment to staying in Carthage after fire destroyed his business. The junior Margo, said the business was like another child to his father who took lost hard but said his father was determined to remain — “he (Stefano) said ‘this town made us who we are. Our kids grew up here and I fulfilled the American Dream here.”

Mr. Sligar presented the New Member Spotlight award to Magical Vacation Planner by Tina Lanier. He noted Mrs. Lanier’s love for Disney which she drew upon to help others to plan vacations and parlayed in a business venture. In addition, Mr. Sligar pointed out the honoree’s community involvement helping with chamber events such as Winterfest, the Sounds of Summer Concert Series and Business After Hours as well as donating to Veterans Ride to Victory, Carthage Revolution Football Team and Wreaths Across America.

In accepting the award, Mrs. Lanier thanked the chamber for their assistance in helping her business flourish.

Kristy O’Shaughnessy presented the Non-profit Award to the Volunteer Transportation Center Inc.

Established in 1991, the organization’s volunteers drives thousands of miles each year for residents in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties who have no other transportation alternatives. Over the last 28 years, this essential non-profit organization has provided rides to health care appointments, grocery shopping, and other essential destinations for tri-county residents, which includes the Greater Carthage Area. Volunteer drivers log an average of 700,000 miles per year for more than 27,000 trips across the North Country and greater New York State which equates to just over 18,000 hours each year.

Accepting the award, Jeremiah Papineau, the organization’s foundation director, noted the need for volunteer drivers and thanked the community for support.

Mrs. Lanier, a chamber board member, presented the Community Impact Award to the Turkey Bowl.

Originated in 1975 by a group of eight young men playing a rivalry football between Carthage and West Carthage has grown to include fundraisers held throughout the year to directly help those diagnosed with cancer.

“Whether it be healthcare expenses, financial hardships, or so many of the other strains that this disease can burden a family with, the Turkey Bowl has pledge their allegiance to help as many local families as possible,” said Mrs. Lanier. “It’s an amazing organization.”

Turkey Bowl founder Matthew Tehonica accepted the award, noting the first event after taking on the purpose of helping those with cancer only raised $800 but last year raised $34,000.

“Next year we’ll be at a quarter of a million in donations,” said Mr. Tehonica. “We can’t do it without you.”

He invited everyone to the Nov. 2 game to kick-off at noon at the Donald F. Getman Memorial Park on Franklin Street in West Carthage. He also asked cancer survivors to come and join in on the half-time memorial walk.

Board member James Scordo, branch director of the Carthage YMCA, presented the Businessperson of the Year Award to Jamie McBride, pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene. Mr. Scordia said he nominated the pastor not only because of how much he has helped the church grow but “for his dedication to the Carthage community.”

Mr. Scordo noted volunteering by church members has “increased massively” since Mr. McBridge became pastor with them helping at the food pantry, care net and dinners for the Village Ecumenical Ministries.

Upon accepting the honor. Pastor McBride said he was taken back by the nomination.

“I was asked what’s my business?” He said. “I am honored — there are many deserving of the award.

He quoted scripture — “Work for the good of the city where I’ve taken you as captives, and pray to the LORD for that city. When it prospers, you will also prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7.

The pastor said he has taken that passage to heart and tries to invest in the people not only in his church but in the surrounding community. He noted three foundations of his ministry — to be interceding for the community; influencing through the community and integrating in the community.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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