All posts in Chamber Blog

Leadership Venango Holds Fifth Session: Honorable Leadership


The 2020 class of Leadership Venango met for their fifth session in February in Franklin to learn about local governance and honorable leadership.

The day began at the County Courthouse Annex with a panel discussion facilitated by Randy Arnold, 2019 Leadership Venango graduate. The panel included Jason Ruggerio (County Planning Commission), Mike Port (Cranberry School District board member) and Tracy Jamieson (manager of the city of Franklin). They were asked about their respective jobs including motivation and challenges, and gave advice on how to obtain similar leadership positions.

Next was Joseph Grunenwald, past President of Clarion University and an active community member. He spoke on what it means to be an “honorable” leader and traits these leaders have, including honesty, courage, long-term persistence, humility and doing the right thing even when it’s hard. The best leaders are forward thinking and put service above self.

The group walked to the Barrow’s Little Theatre for lunch and a discussion with the three County Commissioners. They discussed job responsibilities, challenges of the County, and their hopes for moving the County forward as united leaders.  They also encouraged questions and stated their open door policy of hearing constituents’ concerns. 

After lunch, members of the FLEX Young Professionals gave an overview of the group’s mission and activities and encouraged participants to consider membership.

Trenton Moulin, President/CEO of Bridge Builders Community Foundations, then gave a presentation on Boardsmanship.  He discussed the importance of serving on a board that lines up with personal values. As a future resource, he gave each member of the classa copy of the Handbook for Directors of Nonprofit Corporations in the United States of America. Prior to leaving, Zach Covington gave the class a tour of  the Barrow-Civic Theatre.

The last stop of the afternoon was to visit Judge Lobaugh and tour the Venango County Courthouse. Judge Lobaugh was a gracious host describing the history of the building and its contents. He exemplified the qualities of an honorable leader as it was clear he has devoted his career to child advocacy and drug and alcohol rehabilitation.  It was also clear that he had a passion and love for Venango County.

The next session will be in March at UPMC Northwest and will focus on “Leading a Healthy Community.”

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s March 2020 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Tourism Mini Grant Opportunity for Local Organizations & Businesses


The Oil Region Alliance (ORA) is offering mini grants for printing brochures and rack cards for tourism destinations in the Oil Region.

Both non-profits, such as museums, and for-profits, like shops and restaurants, can apply for half the cost of printing a brochure or rack card up to $500. Applicants are required to match the cost. Only one grant may be awarded per cycle, per location.

“This is an excellent opportunity for local tourism destinations to create a marketing piece to represent them in a variety of welcome centers and literature racks throughout the region,” said Emily Altomare, Communications and Tourism Manager of the ORA.

To apply, submit a final copy of the product to be printed (with the acknowledgment of funding support by the ORA specified in the rules), a copy of the quote or proposal for the printing cost, and a completed W-9 and application.

Rules and applications are available at the ORA office at 217 Elm Street in Oil City and online at www.OilRegion.org/news. Applications are due by Friday, March 13, in hard copy form to the ORA office or via e-mail to ealtomare@oilregion.org.

The ORA will respond to applicants by Friday, March 20. The Oil Region Alliance must review and approve all materials before they are printed and reserves the right to not fund the grant if the final product does not adhere to the guidelines. Printing should be completed and stock should be delivered to the ORA office by Friday, May 1, for distribution throughout the Oil Region, which includes all of Venango County and sites in Titusville and Foxburg.

Questions about this opportunity can be directed to Emily Altomare at: ealtomare@oilregion.org

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s March 2020 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Why Recognize Young Professionals?


As we are in the middle of planning our annual FLEX Presents event, recognition is on our minds. Why do we spend time and effort to recognize young professionals?

Giving to the community can be tireless. Spending hours volunteering and helping others includes large amounts of time and energy, but our communities depend on people being willing to do things they are not necessarily compensated for.

We recognize young professionals at FLEX Presents to provide:

  • Encouragement: It motivates those recognized to continue working hard and lets them know their efforts have not gone unnoticed.
  • Inspiration: It inspires other young professionals to follow in the footsteps of those being recognized, and can provide great examples of how to balance work, family, and community.
  • Acknowledgement: It not only inspires others, but shows that there ARE young people making a difference and being successful in our community. We often hear negative talk about young professionals leaving the area, and this event is a perfect example of how that is untrue.
  • Awareness: Recognition isn’t only about the individual, it sheds light on the causes or organizations that nominees are involved with, helping others to learn more about them and hopefully inspiring more people to get involved with local organizations.

Recognition is about coming together to inspire and uplift individuals, organizations, and the entire community.

We hope you’ll join us in recognizing young professionals at FLEX Presents on Friday, April 17, at Clarion University – Venango.

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) March 2020 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

New Hospital Transportation Driving Away Kids’ Fears


UPMC Northwest Hospital is putting some of its smallest patients in the driver’s seat. Pediatric patients can now drive themselves to the operating room in miniature battery-powered cars.  Most kids are stressed when it comes to operations and procedures, so the operating room staff came up with an innovative way to help calm their fears.

Patients are riding to the operating room in style thanks to an anonymous donation to the Northwest Hospital Foundation.  Kids ranging from ages 2 to 10 can choose from a Jeep or Mercedes-Benz convertible.  The cars light up, and they can play music with Bluetooth technology.  The vehicles can be operated by the kids or by a nurse or doctor with a remote controller. 

Since the cars were put in use almost a month ago, the driving experience is already working its magic. Children such as Evan Ward, son of Michael and Amanda Ward of Franklin, PA, are feeling less anxious about their upcoming procedures.

“Evan had a wonderful surgical experience at UPMC Northwest. The staff was diligent and very attentive to him when he arrived. Once he was settled in, the time quickly passed as he was given the opportunity to drive the new electric cars that they are utilizing for their pediatric patients. Instead of being apprehensive about the unfamiliar environment he was in, he was calm, laughing, and he enjoyed driving around the hallway where everyone greeted him. We are so thankful that Evan will remember his surgery day as a positive and fun experience,” said the Ward’s.

The program makes the staff and surgeon’s jobs easier, too.  It’s puts their minds at ease to know the kids are happier, relaxed and having fun. 

According to Dr. Ibrahim Bawab, Head of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at UPMC Northwest: “Surgery day can be stressful for almost everyone and especially for kids. As a surgeon who also manages the pediatric population, I’ve witnessed the anxiety and agitation firsthand, mostly when the kids are being separated from their parents and wheeled to the operating room.

“Luckily, now with the new cars at UPMC Northwest, the kids can be more at ease, they can ride the miniature cars, and head toward the operating room in style. This will certainly help decrease anxiety and create an overall environment of fun and playfulness,” said Dr. Bawab.

To learn more about the Northwest Hospital Foundation, please contact Theresa Edder, Executive Director, at 814-676-7145 or visit northwesthospitalfoundation.org.

Pictured above: Dr. Bawab and Evan Ward

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s March 2020 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Twelve Graduate From VTC Welding Program


A class of 12 students received certificates of achievement in the evening Welding Technology program at the Venango Technology Center (VTC) on Thursday, February 13.  The program was coordinated among VTC, the Keystone Community Education Council (KCEC), and the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC).

The classes ran from 3 – 8:30 p.m. for three evenings per week.  Students were able to earn several welding qualifications, as well as garner 18 college credits from CCAC in the process. 

This year’s graduating class included Edward Conti, Tanner Hargenrader, Cole Harvey, Gabriel Johnson, Hunter Littlefield, Andrew Prichard, Dylan Saxton, Austin Seigworth, Andria Stephens, Branden Toland, Dakota Urey, and Hunter Wagner.

“This is a unique opportunity for students in our area, because they can get these college credits for a fraction of the cost they would pay elsewhere,” said Lance Hummer, executive director of KCEC.  Because of a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, high school participants were able to have their program costs paid.

The evening Welding Technology program has been offered since 2009, and Travis Crate, a welding instructor at the VTC, has been the lead instructor the entire time.  “The students in this year’s program had excellent attendance, and they all worked very hard,” Crate said.

Among the 12 graduates, there were 30 welding qualifications earned, with some students earning multiple credentials.  Students also received OSHA 10 certification, as well as training in running a forklift.

Two of the high school seniors in the Welding Technology program, Dakota Urey and Cole Harvey, competed against college students at the American Welding Society’s Annual Weld Off (Pittsburgh Section).  Urey finished second overall, receiving a plaque and a $200 check.  Harvey received his 3G vertical up certification.

Shirl Baughman, mother of student Gabriel Johnson, said: “This program has been a wonderful opportunity for Gabe.  May it open many doors for him.”  Gabriel added: “I’ve learned to become more responsible and have been more capable of finishing my projects.” 

Latrobe Barnitz, assistant director of admissions and financial aid at Clarion University – Venango provided the food and beverages for the event.  He also let graduates know about the Associate of Applied Science degree in Applied Technology at the University.  “Your 18 credits from CCAC will be applied to your degree, if you choose to pursue this program at Clarion,” Barnitz said.

Barnitz noted that 60 credit hours are needed for an Associate Degree at Clarion University – Venango.  Given that the 18 Welding Technology credit hours can be transferred to the degree program, students would need only 14 more classes (42 credit hours) to complete that degree.

Students will receive their official certificates from CCAC upon high school graduation.  Students who are interested in registering for this class for next year, or for those who want to find out more about the workforce-development programs KCEC offers, should call its office at (814) 677-4427.

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s March 2020 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.