Chamber honors trio at annual meeting


By Brandon Klein

bklein@vindy.com

BOARDMAN

Bo Pelini’s few months back in the Mahoning Valley didn’t go without recognition.

The head football coach of Youngstown State University was among three recipients who received awards at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s annual meeting at Mr. Anthony’s, 7440 South Ave., on Thursday morning.

“He brings that enthusiasm,” said Tom Humphries, chamber president and CEO. “You can’t buy it.”

Pelini’s return earned him the chamber’s Spirit of the Valley Award.

“It’s an honor for me to come back into the community,” he said.

Pelini, a Cardinal Mooney High School graduate and former head coach at the University of Nebraska, departed from the meeting earlier for spring practice in the afternoon, as he starts to familiarize himself with the team. He was hired as YSU coach in December.

The other recipients were Atty. Alan D. Wenger of Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell Ltd. law firm and state Rep. Sean J. O’Brien of Bazetta, D-63rd.

Wenger received the Spirit of the Chamber Award for his contributions in local fracking debates, particularly the anti-fracking Community Bill of Rights charter amendment that voters have rejected four times since May 2013.

“Neither side has a lock on the truth,” he said.

Humphries said Wenger did a great job presenting the facts on the issue.

O’Brien, who received the Political Achievement Award, also received recognition for his work with the oil and gas industry and commitment to the Valley. On Wednesday, the Ohio House passed legislation he co-sponsored, which prevents fracking in state parks and forests.

“We’ve been able to give our Valley a strong voice in Columbus,” O’Brien said.

The chamber’s annual meeting concluded with a look at accomplishments in 2014, and an outlook for what to expect this year.

The chamber completed 13 projects that brought $1.26 million total investment, 484 new jobs and $25 million in new payroll to the Valley. Among its efforts are the attraction of Ontario-based Matalco Inc., the expansion of Hynes Industries in Austintown and the relocation of United Kingdom-based Laird Technologies’ division headquarters to Warren from Pennsylvania.

For this year, the chamber will work on several initiatives such as education, workforce development and membership.

“Diversity in this economy changes every day for the better,” Humphries said.

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