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Business leaders saluted, serenaded at Franklin County dinner

September 05, 2008|By DON AINES

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- State Rep. Todd Rock, Warden John Wetzel and Letterkenny Army Depot Commander Col. Steven Shapiro were among the targets picked out at Thursday night's 22nd annual Industry Appreciation Dinner by that hostess with the mostest, Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross.

As awful a sight as any man who ever donned a Tina Turner wig and spaghetti-strap minidress could be, Ross resurrected drag queen Tina Laminka for this year's dinner. He was backed by The Dips, a foursome of Afro-wigged backup singers wearing "Brady Bunch"-era powder blue tuxedos.

The dinner was attended by about 550 business people, politicians and others who dreaded the idea that Laminka might single them out for a lap dance.

"You got a nice smile," Laminka told Rock, R-Franklin. "You don't do much else, but you smile nice."

Laminka sang, if that's the word, "Soldier Boy" while sitting on Shapiro's lap.

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Right as this year's act started, Wetzel was asked if he ever worried that Ross would zero in on him at one of these dinners.

"Yes," Wetzel said.

Laminka was slow dancing with the warden a few minutes later.

No stranger to events such as this, state Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin, was a good sport, nuzzling Laminka's 5 o'clock shadow.

Ross said it was the biggest turnout ever for the dinner, which also serves to honor the individuals and companies that have helped Franklin County achieve one of the fastest-growing economies in Pennsylvania.

For his 30 years in public office as a state representative and senator, along with his support for road and infrastructure projects in his district, Punt was presented the Chairman's Award.

The Large Business of the Year Award, for companies with 100 or more employees, went to Jerr-Dan Corp. of Greencastle. Founded in 1972 with just seven employees, Jerr-Dan was purchased by Oshkosh Corp. in 2004 for $80 million.

The presentation noted that almost everyone whose vehicle has left them stranded on a roadside has had it taken away on a Jerr-Dan rollback truck or other wrecker. The company also was cited for its support of volunteer fire companies and the American Cancer Society.

The Small Business of the Year Award went to the Wenger Feeds mill in Shippensburg, Pa. Established in 1944, the company has grown to six feed mills in Pennsylvania and Maryland, according to the presentation.

The mill in Shippensburg processed 147,000 tons of feed in 2007 and is noted for its support of the environment, fire and ambulance services, the county fair, 4H and scholarships for agricultural studies.

The Zane A. Miller Award for a career of service to business and the community went to Marelin K. Sipes, who retired earlier this year as president of the First National Bank of Mercersburg (Pa.).

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