Chamber lists this year's honorees

September 18, 2005

Kathy J. Harple: Business Person of the Year

Kathy J. Harple wasn't expecting to hear that she'd been selected as the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce's Business Person of the Year.

"When I think of 'business person of the year,' I don't think of myself," she said.

The director of Tri-State Printing's pre-press department, Harple has been with the Hagerstown firm since 1984, she said. It was the company's owner, Peter Wright, who got her involved in activities outside the office, she said, starting with the Chamber.

There, much of her involvement was with the Ambassador Committee, mentoring new members. "Once I got involved with the Chamber, it went on from there - once you start getting involved with people who are involved in things, you get drawn in."

And for Harple, being involved really meant being involved. "I wasn't gonna just sign my name to things," she said.

So now she also serves on the board of the Washington County Arts Council, and chairs the community committee for Hagerstown's Sunrise Rotary Club.


Through her Rotary committee, she coordinates a number of activities such as the club's Adopt-a-Highway commitment and its United Way Day of Caring involvement. It's annual auction, scheduled for Oct. 23, benefits a variety of charities and nonprofits. This year's beneficiaries, she said, will be Washington County ARC, Safe Place-Washington County Child Advocacy Center, REACH and the Washington County Arts Council. The club also has its own charitable foundation and is participating in the Henson-Waltersdorf Endowment.

Harple said she likes "just being able to be a part of it all; I've learned so much from the people I've come to know.

"Tri-State supports me through all these things. But they like being involved in the community."

Carol W. Norton: Chamber of Commerce's Small-Business Person of the Year

Carol W. Norton, the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce's Small-Business Person of the Year, has a little advice for any woman contemplating marriage.

"Don't elope! Or at least do it in a pretty dress."

Since purchasing Jane Anderson Brides in 2003, Norton said, "I've truly found my niche."

A native of Pittsburgh, Norton graduated from Penn State University and started her retail career in Washington with Wooward & Lothrop. Since then, she's held a variety of retail management positions for other companies. But when she found out that Jane Anderson planned to close the downtown Hagerstown shop, she decided to strike out on her own. She saved a newspaper story about the store, "and I took the article in to my husband and said 'Jane Anderson Brides is closing and I wanna buy it.'"

She reopened the store on the day after Christmas. And didn't look back.

"I definitely felt strongly that this business could grow; and it has grown," she said.

"It's a happy business," she added. Whether the customer is a bride or is shopping for a prom gown or preparing for a black-tie affair, "we don't have very many customers that come in here that are not happy."

Her enthusiasm isn't limited to her own shop. Norton also serves on the special events commission for the newly formed Destination Hagerstown, a core group of businesspeople interested in marketing downtown businesses. And she belongs to Newcomers Unlimited, a women's group that often raises funds for charities and nonprofits.

One of the reasons for her store's success, she said, is the "wide assortment of gowns and the variety of price points."

And by her own admission, she's got the best reason for running a bridal shop.

"I love everything about weddings."

Wayne Winebrenner: Distinguished Community Service Award

Mention his Hagerstown/Washington County Chamber of Commerce recognition to Wayne Winebrenner, and the first thing he says is "I'm still not convinced I'm the right person for this award."

Winebrenner doesn't like a fuss. "Any kind of recognition kind of embarrasses me," he said.

But he doesn't mind showing off his current project at all - the new community center attached to Christ's Reformed Church on West Franklin Street, soon to be the permanent home of the REACH cold weather shelter.

REACH - Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless - has moved its office into the building, as have Potomac Case Management and the Washington County Health Department's Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.

Winebrenner serves as chairman of Aspiring to Serve Inc., a group of Christ's Reformed members who spearheaded the community center project after the building, which housed the former Cannon Shoe Co., was donated to the church in 1997.

"I didn't ask for this job," Winebrenner said, "but it's the church's project, and I wasn't gonna turn them down."

Winebrenner said he gets satisfaction from seeing those offices open, the shelter ready for use and "the feeling that we are progressing in doing something for the community."

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