Tuscarora Area Chamber of Commerce: Commemorating the Achievements of Local Businesses, Organizations, and Individuals

The Tuscarora Area Chamber of Commerce (TACC) held its annual awards dinner on Tuesday, April 11th. Over 150 business and community leaders gathered to help the Chamber commemorate the achievements of area businesses and organizations. The event was held at The Goldfish Barn & Event Center.

TACC Chairman and Herbruck’s Blue Springs Egg Farm EHS Engineer Derek Stoy welcomed everyone and thanked the entire board of directors for their dedication. He spoke about Chamber goals for the future and praised the work of TACC, especially as a smaller, community-minded chamber.

Niki Hinckle, Senior Vice President for WellSpan Health’s west region, the event’s sponsor, spoke about the organization’s commitment to health, the community, and their partnerships with TACC and other community organizations. They are currently embarking on several new expansion initiatives around the region.

Chaz Timmons, TACC Board Member and Rita McMullen, President of PDM Insurance Agency presented the “Business Spotlight” recognition award, highlighting the achievements of Path Valley Restaurant and their 30 years of service to the community. Proprietors John & Mandy Sideras were present to accept the award. Surprised by the recognition, John thanked the community for supporting them and said that they would not be successful without their dedicated staff and supportive patrons.

TACC Executive Director Chris Ardinger, presented the first award of the evening, Volunteer of the Year. “This individual has helped with everything from setting up vendors at 5 AM for Townfest, to greeting people as they arrive at our events, to much more; she is a huge asset to our Chamber and community. Currently, she is employed at Orrstown Bank as a Branch Executive Officer. If you haven’t figured it out by now, our award winner is Annalisa Ambrisco.” Equally as surprised, Annalisa accepted the award and told the group that she absolutely loves the Mercersburg community and the opportunities that Orrstown Bank provides her to give back.

Next on the agenda was the Not for Profit of the Year, which was presented by State Rep. Paul Schemel. Schemel praised the facility, which sprawls over a beautiful, 30-acre historic site; the organization has a multitude of accomplishments in historic preservation, archaeology, publications, lectures, discussion groups, an active research library, and demonstrations and exhibitions. Originally founded to preserve an 18th and 19th Century homestead, it has evolved into a cultural and natural treasure, with a focus on bringing the area to life to students.

With a few more teasers, Schemel announced that the recipient was The Conococheague Institute (CI). Matthew Wedd, CI’s Executive Director accepted the award on behalf of the organization and updated attendees on the many happenings at the site.

The nominee for Business of the Year has been in Franklin County for over 18 years and originally started in an 800 sq. ft. garage in an alley in Mercersburg. State Senator Doug Mastriano presented this award. When they opened in 2005, they served 72 students from the ages of 2 to 18 years old with only one instructor. Fast forward to today, they serve over 200 students with five instructors.

Mastriano went on to say “it has always been their philosophy to reach the entire community, so they became the only studio in our county to offer specialty classes for adults, boys parkour and children with Down Syndrome. Their Down Syndrome support class is the only one of its kind in the area, where participants can attend class, actively participate on stage, all free of charge to the families”. They are also active in several community events, including the Mercersburg Townfest, Springfest, Halloween Parade and Annual Christmas Tree Lighting.   

It was clear soon enough that the 2023 Business of the Year was Miss Dicey’s School of Dance. Dicey Higgins, Founder & Owner was joined by her family, instructors and students to accept the award. Higgins thanked the community and TACC for recognizing them and “not forgetting what we do”. She also extended thanks to her staff, students and families for the support, as well as Senator Doug Mastriano for his support and assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The highest commendation that the Tuscarora Area Chamber of Commerce presents each year is the Business Person of the Year. This award is given to a person who is unselfishly committed to the business community.

Mercersburg Mayor Michael Pedersen took to the podium to present this award, as he has had close ties with the recipient for many years. This individual was responsible for running an establishment that was formerly known as “Miller’s Drive-In”, which was established in 1971 by her parents. She started out as a server within the business during her high school years, eventually learned the ropes in the kitchen, and eventually purchased the business in 1991. She ran the business alongside her two sons, her employees, and continued to use her parent’s famous homemade recipes.

This individual resides in Mercersburg and enjoys traveling with her husband, Don. Earlier this year, she was able to turn the keys over to the daughter of a very long-time, dedicated employee and her husband. The business is known for many things, most importantly, the delicious corn fritters.

As yet another successful surprise, Susan Musselman accepted the award and told the audience she was “stunned”. She thanked attendees and TACC for their support and said that she and her husband is looking forward to retirement and travel.

Among the other honored guests were: State Senator Doug Mastriano, State Reps. Paul Schemel and Rich Irvin, Nancy Bull and Susan Fahnestock from Congressman Joyce’s office, Franklin County Commissioners John Flannery and Dave Keller, Mike Ross from the Franklin County Area Development Corporation, District Justice Jody Eyer, TSD Superintendent Rodney Benedick, Mercersburg Mayor Dr. Michael Pedersen, TSD Board Treasurer Erich Hawbaker, Candidate for District Attorney Ian Brink and Candidate for Register & Recorder Clayton Bendell.

As the evening concluded, Ardinger thanked attendees for coming out to celebrate the success of the Tuscarora area businesses and organizations, and thanked WellSpan Health for being the event sponsor and The Goldfish Barn for hosting. 


Janet Donahoe obituary 1935~2023

A graduate of Wilson College and The Catholic University of America, Janet taught English and Latin in Pennsylvania and was a school librarian in Virginia. 

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