Quick takes

ADDITION: Rob Gilbert of Weirton has joined the Howard Hanna Mortimer Realty team in Weirton.

A resident of Weirton, Gilbert obtained his West Virginia real estate license in May after completing a 90-hour pre-licensing course and passing the state licensing exam in Charleston.

Gilbert, son of Bob and Connie Gilbert of Weirton, returned to the area in 1999 after working for 15 years at a Caterpillar dealership in Virginia. He and his wife, Gabrielle, own Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens and are the parents of three children.

HELPING: The Richmond chapter of Modern Woodmen, a fraternal financial organization, helped Hopedale 4-H raise $1,000 with a spaghetti dinner. Proceeds, which included a $500 donation from Modern Woodmen’s home office, will be used for supplies.

Modern Woodmen has a matching fund program that allows its members to show support for community causes, providing up to $2,500 in matching funds to assist community needs. Each year the group contributes more than $6.5 million to community causes nationwide.

SERVING: West Liberty University admissions counselor Rhonda Tysk is serving as president for the West Virginia Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers for the current year.

“The WVACRAO is a professional organization that is responsive to the world of college admissions. We try to help all our colleges and universities share ideas and become the best we can be so our students have the best college experience that is available,” said Tysk.

The WVACRAO was established in 1932 and is open to all Mountain State colleges and universities, both public and private.

A Wheeling resident, Tysk recently attended the national conference in San Francisco and is now planning to go to the annual conference, which will be held this fall at Mountaineer Racetrack Gaming and Resort Oct. 9-11.

Tysk previously served as treasurer of the WVACRAO organization for four years before taking on her current role of president.

Tysk joined the WLU admissions’ office in 1989 and has held her current position since 2003. She is a graduate of West Liberty and West Virginia University where she earned a master’s degree in legal studies.

She also is active in the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the American College Testing organization.

Quick takes

HIRED: Weirton native Camden Nogay, who graduated cum laude from Dartmouth in June with a bachelor of arts in economics, has joined Lincoln International, an investment bank, in New York, N.Y.

Nogay, a Brooke High School alumnus, will be an investment banking analyst specializing in merger and acquisition advisory with Lincoln.

While at Darthmouth he argued monetary policy before the Federal Reserve as a member of the Dartmouth College Fed Challenge Team, served as an editor of the Dartmouth Business Journal and was a member of the Dartmouth College Honor List every year.

He is the son of Joe and Cathy Nogay of Weirton.

WINNER: Albert Macre, owner of Albert F. Macre & Co. in Steubenville, has won the 2013 Small Business Champion Award from the National Federation of Independent Business, Ohio.

Macre, who has taught full-time at the Franciscan University of Steubenville since 1991, said he’s honored to be the NFIB honoree, “but the real champions are the small business owners who, not knowing what the new day might bring in terms of regulation, taxation, litigation or economic uncertainty, still risk it all on a daily basis.”

He said that knowledge “makes it easy to stand up and support small business issues.”

Each year NFIB names one small business champion from among its membership of more than 25,000 Ohio small businesses.

This individual is recognized for not only volunteering time and resources to promoting small business causes through involvement in NFIB activities, but also must demonstrate a spirit of service to the community and a commitment to advancing the concept of free enterprise.

Roger R. Geiger, vice president/executive director of NFIB/Ohio, said Macre has been a true supporter of small business owners and the organization “beginning with his efforts to establish the Steubenville Area Action Council.”

He’s also served on NFIB’s statewide leadership council.

A founding member of NFIB’s Jefferson County Area Action Council, he chairs the Steubenville Area Action Council and is a member of the NFIB/Ohio statewide leadership council.

He also is a spokesman for the organization on small business issues in the local and national news media.

Macre has been volunteer trainer for the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for the past 20 years, training 200 Franciscan University of Steubenville students to provide free tax advice to area residents.

In 2011 he was appointed by Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich to the Ohio Business Gateway Steering Committee.

EXPANDING: CityWide Insurance & Real Estate, 3333 Main St., Weirton, has added health care, Medicare, life, annuities and home health coverage to its services, with licensed agent Dominick D’Aurora joining the local staff.

D’Aurora had worked in the Pittsburgh senior retirement market for more than three years with Bankers Life & Casualty and Success Financial Solutions.

A Follansbee native and graduate of Madonna High School, D’Aurora is licensed in life and health in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania and is certified in long-term care and annuities.

In addition to Weirton, CityWide has offices in Wheeling, Moundsville and New Martinsville.

Also manning the Weirton office are longtime agents Donna Ficca and Brandy Hutchinson.

Quick takes

LICENSED: Jessica Bake-Caldwell, formerly of Weirton, recently earned a teacher leader endorsement from Ohio Dominican University.

She earned the endorsement by completing three courses during the 2012-13 school year and is now eligible to gain a lead professional license, which requires applicants to have taught a minimum of nine years, have their master’s degree and master teacher status.

A kindergarten teacher with Maysville Local Schools, she is beginning her 17th year in the classroom.

The daughter of Betty Joe Bake of Weirton, she now resides in Zanesville with her husband and three step-children.

HONORED: Melissa Watts, manager of U.S. Bank’s Toronto branch, is a 2012 Pinnacle Award winner.

Watts, among a select number of top performing employees nationwide to win the bank’s award for outstanding achievement and superior performance, was recognized at a company dinner recently, officials said.

“(She) deserves tremendous congratulations for this achievement as she does an outstanding job to make sure our customers’ expectations are not only met, but exceeded,” U.S. Bank Regional President Jeff East said, pointing out that it’s because of employees like Watts that the bank has received several accolades over the past year, including being recognized by Fortune magazine as one of the world’s most admired super regional banks.

Watts, who has an associate degree from Eastern Gateway Community College, is active in community organizations, including the Catholic Women’s Club, Toronto Schools Alumni Association and Toronto Chamber of Commerce.

This is the second time she has won the Pinnacle Award.

KUDOS: Diehl Automotive has earned the distinction of being named one of Automotive News’ Best Dealerships To Work For.

Automotive News partnered with Best Companies Group to identify dealerships in the U.S. and Canada that have excelled in creating quality workplaces for employees.

The program measured workplace satisfaction through a confidential survey of employers and employees.

Diehl was chosen because of many things, including, first and foremost, its commitment to, and respect for, their employees, officials said.

In addition, Diehl also offers employees a top-tier benefits package, a PC buying program which lends interest-free money to employees to purchase PC’s and tablets that can be paid off with payroll deductions, and bonuses and contests that benefit employees.

Diehl of Robinson, formerly Micks Dodge, opened its doors at 6181 Steubenville Pike, McKees Rocks, Pa., in September 2013.

Since then, numerous updates have been made, including a complete showroom facelift, new and better service diagnostic tools, and a new, open and comfortable no-hassle sales approach, officials said.

VETS: About 55,000 veteran and active-duty military families in Ohio receive the federal Earned Income Tax Credit or the low-income component of the Child Tax Credit, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Policy Matters Ohio is releasing the report in Ohio.

“Ohio’s troops and veterans have made incredible sacrifices, and we have a duty to make sure they can provide for their families,” said Hannah Halbert of Policy Matters Ohio. “Working family tax credits like the EITC and CTC are part of fulfilling that duty.”

Nationally, about 1.5 million military families, including about 3 million children under age 18, received one or both of the credits. The credits make a difference to their economic security, keeping 140,000 military families with nearly 300,000 children from falling below the poverty line. The credits also help working families with incomes modestly above the poverty line that still struggle with basic expenses like housing, school clothes, car repairs and groceries.

Only people who are working can claim the credits, which were slightly expanded in recent years so they provide more help to more families. On average the credit amounts to $1,000 per household from the low-income portion of the Child Tax Credit in 2011 and $2,650 from the EITC.

“The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit help working families make ends meet,” said Halbert. “Congress must protect our military families by protecting these tax credits in the months ahead.”

Policy Matters Ohio is a nonprofit, nonpartisan state policy research institute with offices in Cleveland and Columbus.

TRAINING: Buckeye Local South Elementary School teacher Kimberly Amos attended a two-day teacher workshop hosted by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program to learn how to engage and connect students to the energy industry through science education.

The workshop was held June 19-20 at Marietta College in Marietta.

“OOGEEP established the teacher workshops to help teachers promote how Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M.) play into energy education and eventually into the work force for young students who may consider careers in the oil and gas industry,” said Rhonda Reda, executive director of OOGEEP. “Ohio has a long history of drilling and producing oil and gas. Recent technologies have enabled the industry to explore and drill in many geological formations around the state.”

In addition to Amos, other teachers from across the state attended the free workshop offered by OOGEEP. The teachers learned all aspects of energy production from formation to exploration, drilling to producing and processing to refining. The teachers also engaged in hands-on experiments and Internet activities.

The final day of the workshop included a tour of PDC Energy’s horizontal drilling site, GWB Oil & Gas, producing well location, a behind-the-scenes look at Ken Miller Supply’s pipe operations and the Ergon Trucking’s crude oil terminal business.

At the end of the workshop, teachers received resource materials, classroom supplies, lesson plans, DVDs, posters and documentation for CEU credits and an optional Ashland graduate credit.

The workshop, accommodations and educational materials were funded by Ohio’s natural gas and crude oil producers as part of their public outreach initiatives.

OOGEEP’s mission is to facilitate educational, scholarship, safety and training programs; to promote public awareness about the industry; and to demonstrate to the general public the environmental, energy and economic benefits of Ohio’s independent natural gas and crude oil producers. OOGEEP is funded by Ohio’s natural gas and crude oil producers and does not utilize any taxpayer dollars.

For information on OOGEEP, visit www.OOGEEP.org.

GRANTS: The Natural Resources Assistance Council for District 14 is accepting applications for Program Year 7 of the Clean Ohio Fund: Green Space Conservation Program.

District 14 includes Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson and Tuscarawas counties.

The program helps to fund preservation of open spaces, sensitive ecological areas and stream corridors. Applicants may request grants for up to 75 percent of the estimated costs for projects that address either:

Open space acquisition and related development of those open spaces, including the acquisition of easements. This includes acquisition of land or rights in land for parks, forest, wetlands, natural areas that protect an endangered plant or animal population, other natural areas and connecting corridors for natural areas. Related development projects include projects for the construction or enhancement of facilities that are necessary to make the acquired open space area accessible and useable by the general public.

Protection and enhancement of riparian corridors or watersheds, including the protection of streams, rivers, lakes and other bodies of water. Projects may include reforestation of land or planting of vegetation for filtration, and fee simple acquisition or acquisition of easements for providing access, or for protection and enhancement.

To assist in the application process, a free training session will be conducted from 10 a.m. to noon on July 31 in the meeting room on the lower level of the Tuscarawas County Public Library, 121 Fair Avenue, NW, New Philadelphia. Those planning to attend should RSVP to District 14 liaison Jeannette Wierzbicki by July 26 either by phone or e-mail

The grant application deadline is Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. Materials should be submitted by mail to Jeannette Wierzbicki, P.E., Grants Specialist with Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA), 326 Highland Avenue, P.O. Box 130 Cambridge, OH 43725 or by calling (740) 439-4471, extension 4.

Quick takes

ATTENDED: Nikolas Kamarados, a certified financial planner, recently attended Prudential’s Field Advisory Council in New Jersey. Members of the council and its 18 committees provide input and feedback to their home office partners on field-related programs and initiatives.

“As a financial planner, it is an honor to be selected to serve as a member of the council,” Kamarados said. “It allows me to bring to the council an in-depth understanding of the tools and programs that will best support the needs of our clients and our agency.”

Caroline Feeney, agency distribution president, said the success of the council and its committees lies in the relationship between the home office and the field.

“The more we strengthen communication between these two dynamic forces, the better our ability to develop programs that will help us grow and prosper. Through the FAC, we are able to deliver one of the best agent value propositions in the industry,” she said. The council, which is made up of committee chairs and vice chairs as well as a cross-section of the company’s 51 agency offices across the country, meets face-to-face with its home office partners two times a year. In addition, the 18 council committees meet monthly via teleconference.

For information, contact Kamarados at nikolas.kamarados@prudential.com, (304) 748-3156 or (330) 386-9790.

GETS FUNDING: Seventeen nonprofit organizations in Comcast’s Keystone Region, including one in Jefferson County, have been awarded $305,000 in grants from the Comcast Foundation to support programs focused on community service, digital literacy and empowering tomorrow’s leaders.

The Keystone Region includes portions of Northeastern, Central and Western Pennsylvania, the Maryland Panhandle, Eastern Ohio and Northern West Virginia.

Awarded $10,000 in grant funding locally was Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Jefferson County. Others funded included Big Brother-Big Sister groups in Berks County, Pa.; Greater Pittsburgh and York and Adams counties, $10,000 each; the Boys & Girls clubs of Central Pennsylvania, Chambersburg, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Somerset, and Western Pennsylvania, $15,000 each, the Boys & Girls Club of Lancaster, $20,000; the Mountaineer Boys & Girls Club, Morgantown, $25,000; Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, $5,000; Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, $50,000; Spanish American Civic Association, Lancaster, $25,000; I-Lead Charter School, Reading, $20,000; YWCA Greater Pittsburgh, $12,000; and Hope Station Opportunity Area, Carlisle, Pa., $8,000.

GRANTS: FirstEnergy Corp. is offering education grants of up to $500 for creative classroom projects planned for the 2013-2014 school year.

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Classroom Grants are awarded for creative, individual classroom projects for pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The grants are available to educators and youth group leaders located in communities served by FirstEnergy’s 10 electric operating companies, and in communities where the company operates generating plants or does business.

“Our goals are to encourage innovative classroom learning in the STEM subjects; to support professional development for educators in these critical areas; and to expose both students and teachers to the wide variety of career possibilities in the STEM fields of study,” said Delores Jones, manager community initiatives. “The students who benefit from these programs could someday work at FirstEnergy as engineers, scientists, accountants, analysts, information technologists and electricians.”

STEM grant applications must be submitted by Sept. 16. The application and more information about grant criteria are available on FirstEnergy’s website, firstenergycorp.com/community/education/educational-grants.html.

Grants will be awarded based on the recommendations of the FirstEnergy Education Advisory Council. Winners will be notified by Oct. 7. More than 1,000 STEM grants have been awarded to educators and youth group leaders since 1986.

HELP WANTED: ManpowerGroup’s eighth-annual Talent Shortage Survey revealed employers in the U.S. and worldwide continue to identify a lack of available skilled talent and a constant struggle to fill vacancies as having a negative impact on business performance.

The ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey looks at the extent to which employers are having difficulty finding the right talent, what jobs are most difficult to fill and why, concern over stakeholder impact and what strategies employers are pursuing to overcome the talent shortage.

Openings rated hardest to fill in 2013 are skilled trades, sales representatives, drivers, IT staff, accounting and finance, engineers, technicians, management executives, mechanics and teachers.

The survey found 39 percent of U.S. employers are having difficulty finding staff with the right skills, down from 49 percent in 2012. U.S. employers report a slightly more pronounced talent shortage than their global peers, 35 percent of whom report difficulty finding the right people for key roles.

According to the survey, nearly half of U.S. employers – 49 percent – recognize that talent shortages impact their ability to serve clients and customers.

This is the fourth year skilled trades has topped the list.