'Yes' man honored by Charles Town Rotary Club

December 23, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Dan Burhans remembers fondly how welcome he, his mother and sister felt when they moved to Charles Town from Fairfax, Va., in 1977.

Although Burhans would become separated from the Charles Town area, he never forgot his experience growing up here.

Burhans had nearly finished his education at Shepherd College when he was lured by the Brothers Signal Co. to take a full-time job with the Northern Virginia firm.

Burhans said he decided to take the job, but told himself that if he was not able to progress up the ladder of the company within two years, he would return to Shepherd.


Burhans moved quickly up the ranks at Brothers Signal, reaching the job of construction superintendent and managing multimillion-dollar projects and crews of up to 100 people.

But while he was working for Brothers Signal, which makes traffic signals and other related transportation products, Burhans started thinking about home.

Working 60 to 70 hours a week and driving up to four hours a day to get to his job, Burhans said the only thing he was doing in Jefferson County was sleeping here.

Burhans left Brothers Signal and returned to Shepherd College, where he obtained a double major in economics and accounting.

Burhans got a job with Edward Jones investment company, and almost fell over at an offer they made to him.

They told him he could work in Hagerstown or open a new office in Charles Town.

Burhans jumped at the chance to work in his hometown.

"Charles Town is a small market, but to me this is what I wanted, to stay local," said Burhans, who now helps individuals and businesses with their investments at the Edward Jones office at 120 W. Washington St.

Burhans then joined an organization that is the epitome of community: Rotary.

Last year, Burhans headed up an effort by Charles Town Rotary to buy car safety seats for the Gabriel Project, a nonprofit organization that assists needy families. Through fund-raisers, the Charles Town Rotary was able to purchase about 20 safety seats for the Gabriel Project, said Burhans.

At Jefferson High School last year, Burhans set up a program through which students could participate in mock job interviews.

"If you've ever been through interviews, you know the first ones are the hardest," said Burhans.

In their first interviews, students were given tips on how to improve their interview skills, Burhans said.

They were given interviews again later in the year to gauge their progress, Burhans said.

Burhans worked on other projects, such as offering his assistance to the high school's business club and volunteering at the Jefferson County Fair.

To honor Burhans, the Charles Town Rotary recently presented him with the Paul Harris Fellow award, which is given to those who make substantial contributions to the organization's humanitarian and educational programs.

The award is named for Paul Harris, a Chicago lawyer who started the organization with three business associates in 1905.

Burhans was a bit taken aback by the award.

"My job is easy because we have great members," said Burhans.

Meanwhile, Burhans keeps chugging along.

He is a member of the board of directors at Jefferson Memorial Hospital, which is busy with a proposal to build a new hospital, and next year, Burhans is expected to become president of the Rotary.

"They keep asking me to do stuff and I keep saying 'yes,'" the 36-year-old said.

Burhans, his wife, Teri, and their daughter, Katy Jo, live near Huyett Road south of Charles Town. Terri Burhans runs Beyond Z, Toys for All Ages, just a couple of doors down from Burhans' office on Washington Street.

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