By LEVI PASCHER
Fulton County Express
JOHNSTOWN – Hundreds of business leaders and elected officials packed the Holiday Inn Friday night for the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce’s second annual award celebration and cocktail party.
Business owners and employees networked with state and local government officials before the chamber’s award winners were honored.
“It’s always a tough choice, but I think this year’s award winners are very deserving of the honor they are receiving tonight,” chamber President Mark Kilmer said.
Kilmer said the awards were decided based on member nominations and a vote by the chamber’s board of directors.
The Edward L. Wilkinson Industry of the Year Award was presented to Patriot Federal Bank, which has locations in both Fulton and Montgomery counties.
Although the bank was honored for being a significant industry in 2014, President and CEO Kate Wolfe still remembers its humble beginnings when its doors opened for the first time in Canajoharie Dec. 5, 2005.
Just six months after opening the bank, the community suffered a devastating flood.
Wolfe still remembers carrying computer servers out of the back door with four feet of water around her waist.
Although the natural disaster was difficult for the brand new bank, she said it created the opportunity for the community to work together.
“The community really got together to overcome what had happened,” Wolfe said. “We started a bank and then restarted a bank, but we were back in short order.”
That challenging start, and dedicated staff, Wolfe said, allowed the business to expand in the larger two-county community it serves today.
“It allowed us to get our foot in the door and people started noticing that this was our community,” she said.
In April 2007, the bank opened an office in Johnstown, and that branch grew quickly. In February 2012, a new facility was built where the branch currently operates.
The bank’s most recent branch was opened in Amsterdam in April 2013.
“We wanted to be the very best community bank we could be and I’m thrilled we have received this honor,” Wolfe said.
According to a release, the industry award was named in memory of Edward L. Wilkinson, a prominent attorney and economic development leader, who was a strong believer in the potential of this region.
The chamber also celebrated the Young Professional of the Year Award which was given to Martin Kelly, of the Montgomery County Legislature and Elma’s Tax Service.
According to the chamber, he was honored with the award for his commitment, enthusiasm and positive energy that has contributed to the betterment of the region.
He became the president of the Montgomery County Farm Bureau at the age of 21, becoming the youngest person to serve the Farm Bureau in that capacity in the organization’s 100-year-history.
He later became a member of the Board of Directors of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Fulton and Montgomery Counties, and a director of the Montgomery County Agricultural Society.
He was elected to the new Montgomery County Legislature in November 2013, and recently became chairman of the Montgomery County Legislature at the age of 26.
The Thomas B. Constantino Entrepreneurial Award was given to Stephen George of North Country Ecological Services and Allwater Guide Service, an environmental consulting firm that specializes in providing ecological support to clients in both the private and public sectors. The company, based in Gloversville, celebrated its 20th year in business last year.
In 2011, George started Allwater Guide Service, a recreational fishing charter business that provides fishing guide services to people from all over the country who come to enjoy what the southern Adirondack region has to offer.
“It means a lot to be recognized by the community,” he said. “I’m glad that we are able to show the rest of the world what the Adirondacks has to offer.”
In 2014, he hosted people from Texas, Ohio, New Jersey, Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and from all over New York State.
Goderie’s Tree Farm was honored as the Agricultural Business of the Year.
Pete and Mike Goderie have been managing Goderie’s Tree Farm in Johnstown since 1983, after they both graduated from college, succeeding their parents in the business.
Today, Goderie’s Tree Farm has 160,000 Christmas trees, and ships orders all over the country, including distant states such as Alaska and Hawaii.
The farm comprises approximately 250 acres that are used in the production of nursery stock, Christmas trees and supporting woodlots. They sell a variety of large trees, offer tree installation and landscaping services.
They now grow hops that are used to brew beer. They said the hops are harvested in late August, which allows them to grow and harvest crop in the “off season.”
“We have really changed throughout the years and it’s great to get this kind of recognition,” Mike Goderie said.
The Small Business of the Year Award was given to Vintage Cafe owner Linda Joseph and her staff.
Joseph started her career serving food to customers over 30 years ago, when she started working at Fulton-Montgomery Community College for the company that provided food services to students.
Seven years ago, she decided to break out of her comfort zone and buy a small restaurant on Main Street in Johnstown where she could share some of her great recipes and homemade specials with a larger customer base.
The Barbara V. Spraker Tourism Partner Award was given to Peck’s Lake Enterprises, operated by Clarence Chamberlain and Albie Peck.
Kilmer said Peck’s Lake Enterprises has been invaluable partners with the Fulton County Tourism Department and with regional tourism efforts.
“Clarence and Albie are always willing to help promote the region and understand the benefits that tourism promotion has in this region,” he said.
The chamber’s Family of the Year Award was given to the Dunlap family. Brad Dunlap is a doctor of chiropractic medicine and Tamara Dunlap is a dentist and although their schooling and early life together took them elsewhere they returned to Fulton County.
In 2005, Tamara bought a Johnstown dental practice on Jansen Avenue and Brad opened his own practice in February 2006 at One Decker Drive in Crossroads Business Park.
In 2008, he took over Perras Chiropractic and in 2010 moved into his own building on the corner of Route 29 and Harrison Street in Johnstown.
The family continues to be involved in Broadalbin where they live, and in Johnstown where they practice.
“This is a great honor and we are very humbled,” Brad Dunlap said. “It was really unexpected.”