2020 Chamber News

October 2020

A Message from the President

I believe that full recovery from the depressed economic times of late March is evident in the membership of the Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce. Members report that jobs remain open and unfilled despite wage increases, demand for services and products is in excess of supply, wedding and food venues are doing robust business and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Mill Run, Mountain Pines Campground in Melcroft, Laurel Highlands Campland and Donegal Campground in Donegal, Scottyland Camping Resort in Rockwood, Hazelbakers Boat and Bike Rentals at Laurel Hill State Park in Trent and other parks and camp grounds have many waiting for accommodations.

A recent weekday cruise of the parking areas of the Holiday Inn Express & Suites & Donegal, Days Inn of Donegal, Log Cabin Lodge and Suites in Jones Mills, Seven Spring & Hidden Valley Mountain Resorts, Foggy Mountain Lodge and Restaurant in Stahlstown, Trent House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Trent, and Helen’s Hide Inn in Champion along with fuel provider Champion Gas and Food Mart and other service stations indicated the same to be near capacity with business brisk. Realtors Josh Crowe, Scott Ludwick, Adrienne (Abe) Wagner, Erin Mikolich, Mike Mikolich, Kathy Corbett, Valerie Gontis, and Donna Tidwell at Berkshire Hathaway Homes Services The Preferred Realty and Michele Meucci and Marlene Kalp at Al Meucci Real Estate have sold much of the remaining inventory of homes listed with them for sale in our area. These events and relative absence of reported Covid-19 cases confirm that the MLCC is where business is safe, successful and the requested products and services available for our neighbors to buy.

Resources fueling demand upon local business are held locally. MLCC members Somerset Trust Company, First National Bank and PNC Bank note low interest rates on loans and increases in customer savings. With government subsidies and plenty of side work available over the last months, recently cashed up customers have delivered the demand sustaining the prosperity of our members in the MLCC. A thank you to our members for keeping their respective businesses viable and local jobs available to meet the restored customer demand.

Many thanks to all our members here at the Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce for the courage to pivot the operation of their businesses to wait out the dark commercial time in this year and share in the business recovery all about the MLCC that has justified the MLCC enthusiasm to BE EXCITED throughout this year to date and the balance of it yet to come.

Regards,
Robert W. King
MLCC President
King Legal Group, LLC


September 2020

A Message from the President

Since last month, Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce members report retail, home and personal services sales and demand spiking despite the expiration of government wage, mortgage and business assistance programs, giving all of us at MLCC reason to “Be Excited”. In my law practice, even with the COVID alerts, I am seeing new businesses looking for locations, shuttered businesses reopened and existing businesses pivoting to reinvent themselves.

Particularly, LHTC Broadband, cut the ribbon at newly built facilities and corporate offices and the new and improved Caddie Shak Family Entertainment Center at the now complete LHTC Broadband campus on Route 31 in Donegal. Also, thanks to the infrastructure improvements on Route 31 under the infrastructure improvement contract under the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, PennDOT and the thoughtful execution of that contract by Plum Contracting Inc. in using needed roadway fill from property along Route 31, not from a distant quarry, new commercial sites, including an area across from PNC Bank in Donegal, otherwise too costly to develop, now exist with interest from national vendors and others, expected to generate new income, jobs, demand for services and an increase in tax base and revenue going far into the future. Special thanks to our local, county and state officials, the PA Turnpike Commission, PennDOT, Plum Contracting Inc. and everyone who worked with us on the beginning plans through the completion of the project.

These events have occurred even with the COVID threats and the social distancing still limiting crowd-based operations of members of the MLCC, including but not limited to, eateries, parks, pools, wedding and retail venues, resorts and even the MLCC. Members have survived by pivoting with artful ways to accommodate demands of the public despite distancing rules. Unfortunately, I cannot report that the MLCC has been as fortunate with our own crowd based activities, now cancelled due to limitations of social distancing, including the golf outing in May and the Ladies’ Day Bash in September for which sufficient weather protected seating was unavailable.

We expect the worst to be behind us with healthcare advances blunting the need for and impact of government COVID quarantines on business and with the increased personal spending which has sustained financial prosperity and high employment in the last three years exceeding levels recorded for the last 50 years. We at the Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce encourage all to Be Excited.

Regards,
Robert W. King
MLCC President
King Legal Group, LLC


August 2020

A Message from the President

Leading up to the 4th of July holiday, I am pleased again to report no significant number of reported cases of covid within the member businesses and staff of the board at the Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce (MLCC) with member businesses observed to be open approaching the 4th of July holiday subject to potential covid restrictions. We have also received report that there will be a reopening this month of the Caddie Shak Family Entertainment Center of LHTC Entertainment under the umbrella of Laurel Highlands Total Communications, Inc., following closure during construction of the new office facility for Laurel Highlands Total Communications, Inc. next to the park in Donegal Township. Productive life is all about the MLCC. As Kris Enberg, the Executive Director of the MLCC, noted in her message last month in this publication, the MLCC members did “Pivot” to different marketing and means of service delivery to preserve business and employee health over the last months, with similar action by our board for the MLCC.

The annual golf outing that was to be held this May at Seven Springs Mountain Resort became a casualty of covid, prompting a fund raising pivot of MLCC to a raffle ticket for 500 gallons of fuel oil going off in September that will be available shortly from the MLCC office in Jones Mills sponsored by members Luther P. Miller, Inc. and King Legal Group. Hoping to preserve and hold the annual Ladies’ Day Bash as scheduled in September at the Donegal Event Center in Donegal, MLCC is exploring modifications to the event format to accommodate safety of those attending and maintain the quality of experience as all in attendance enjoyed in previous presentations of the Ladies’ Day Bash.

Encouragement is offered to all MLCC members in and on the way to Ohio Pyle impacted by the traffic congestion from road work recently experience by the MLCC members in and around the Route 31 corridor through Donegal over the last three years. Having just completed the same process, the members on the Donegal side of the county line pass along the assurance that it will end, businesses will survive and the traffic improvements will encourage more visitors and increase business which is reason to “Be Excited”!

Regards,
Robert W. King
MLCC President
King Legal Group, LLC


July 2020

A Message from the Executive Director

PIVOT!

When we hear the word “Pivot!” most of us reflect back to the iconic catchphrase from a FRIENDS episode where Ross, Rachel and Chandler are moving Ross’s sofa up the stair case. Every few steps Ross yells PIVOT! I don’t know about the rest of you, but anytime I’m involved in moving a piece of furniture, I’m yelling, “Pivot!” at least once. This usually makes everyone laugh. During the recent pandemic the catchphrase “Pivot” took on a whole new meaning for us. I’d like to use this platform to convey how professionally talented our local business community is. When the governor first set forth his guidelines, our businesses did not miss a beat. No, they learned to pivot and fast! Here are a few examples: In late March, when Brian Pletcher of Pletcher’s Farm Market realized he couldn’t operate his farmer’s market unless he sold produce, he didn’t miss a beat. He drove south to purchase produce and bring back to the market. When Adam Baker of Rodney Corner Café realized he could only have takeout service, he quickly developed an online menu through Toasttab.com. Brady’s Restaurant started an outdoor BBQ and put picnic tables around the lake for social distancing and Nino’s now has an outdoor ice cream garden parlor. I could go on and on but I’ll stop here and refer to another catchphrase that the chamber developed. “BE EXCITED!” Yes, we should all “BE EXCITED” about where we live and work. Our business leaders are talented individuals and a little pivoting will never hurt them.

On behalf of the MLCC members, I would also like to give a big round of our applause to our community members for supporting local business throughout all phases of the pandemic, it was phenomenal!

2020 will definitely go down in history. Not only will we remember COVID-19, we will also remember the turmoil of the country, the media, George Floyd and the election. Since I have devoted my entire letter to catchphrases, I will close with one more, “Be Kind Always!” We have the capability to make a difference by setting examples and it easy, just be kind. We live and work within unique communities, we are not followers we are leaders. I am very proud of our community and businesses for their ability to flourish during these difficult circumstances. I challenge everyone to get up each morning and pledge to “Be Excited” and to “Be Kind” and our little neck of the world will continue to be its own unique place to live and work. Kindness is way more contagious than the virus 😉

Talk Soon,
Kris Enberg
Executive Director


June 2020

A Message from the President

It is a time to BE EXCITED. Less than 120 days have passed from lock down of the economy by the governor and opening of the businesses of the members of the Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce (MLCC). Also, exciting is the arrival of new members to MLCC despite burdens not seen in almost 100 years. I welcome the new members, namely, Caddie Shak Family Entertainment Park, Helen’s Hide Inn, Fur-Ever Beautiful LLC, Mt. View Plants & Produce, Somerset Screen Printing & Embroidery, AA Septic Tank Services, Rodney Corner Cafe and C&D Firewood & Logging, LLC to be further introduced to you over the next months in the pages of this publication and the social media pages of the MLCC.

I applaud the patience and imagination of our members in the conduct of their respective business operations to find ways to serve others and survive this exceptionally bleak season of the calendar and business year. In many ways, each business member became responders to needs that were not met by the resources of or available to the those being first responders. Every one of the business members of MLCC offered their services and help at risk and sacrifice of safety and income to provide for significant needs.

Thanks to $5000 donations from both LCT Energy and Melcroft Coal Company (total of $10,000), 200 boxes of free food were distributed to area residents. The Christian Family & Children’s Center coordinated the effort and the food was picked up at the Donegal Campus. The food items were purchased from SAVE-A-LOT (who donated $500 worth of food in addition) and G&D Market. All items were delivered to the campus where volunteers organized the boxes. The Center reached out to churches to find out those in need and residents were asked to sign up to reserve a box. Volunteers reported that many of the recipients were in grateful tears as they received the boxes.

A Soup Kitchen sponsored by Nino’s and Country Pie Shoppe was a huge success. They distributed 300 quarts of soup, 170 loaves of bread, homemade cookies, and fresh vegetables to over 100 households. Support for the soup kitchen and generous donations benefited many members of their crew who are currently unemployed. Donations were also made to Mount Pleasant’s new food pantry.

The Sarnelli Family continues to give back to the community! They recently made a large donation to Disobedient Spirits in support of their efforts to make hand sanitizer. On behalf of the MLCC we thank you for donating the first batch to our local first responders. If you are an essential business and are looking for hand sanitizer, please visit www.disobedientspirits.com.

Love Abounds Outreach together with Light on the Hill Outreach Church partnered with the Essential Food Pantry in Mt. Pleasant distributing to those in need. Please advise us on future community outreach efforts so that we may relay them to the community. MLCC “We Stand Better Together”.

BE EXCITED with me and all the members and staff of the board at the MLCC. Families and workers have few reported incidents of illness. Businesses are open and focused on recovery. With the Federal assistance funds in hand and products and services available from the business members here in the MLCC, resumption of productive life is immediately ahead.

Regards,
Robert W. King
MLCC President
King Legal Group, LLC


May 2020

A Message from the President

Since my last letter a month ago, we have all experienced the worst crisis in business and health in the last 100 years, following a period of more than 3 years of the best employment and income numbers in more than 60 years. Meeting the crisis, is the Federal Government with the largest and quickest government financial and healthcare assistance effort in history to preserve life and business and jobs and disposable income. Without demand for products and services, the jobs in the businesses that churn out products and deliver services stop but expenses of business members in the Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce (MLCC) and workers and families, including business owners themselves, continue during the pause, tempting them to leave to seek other income sources and hindering reopening of businesses. I am still encouraged and also encourage every business member in the MLCC to continue to BE EXCITED during this short term pause from local and national business growth and prosperity until the purchasing and demand begin to return in a period foreseen to be no more than 120 days.

Remember that the money lost in take home pay by those laid off in the businesses being members in the MLCC will be replaced and in many cases, increased for individuals by employment benefits being a combination of Pennsylvania state benefits of between $200.00 and more than $400.00 a week and a Federal enhancement of $600.00 a week for those getting state unemployment compensation payments. These assistance funds available to those laid off through the 1st of July more than cover monthly expenses and lost income. On the business side, Federal grants and loans, eligible for forgiveness, are available for businesses in order to cover continuing expenses during shutdown caused by the stay-at-home order. These immediate funds give all businesses and their workers continuing cause to BE EXCITED with us at the MLCC that the business will reopen and families and workers will remain in place, maintain their lifestyle and be available for recall when the ordered stay -at-home period soon ends. With funds in hand, expect us all to have resources to fund purchases of desired products and services available from our business members here in the MLCC.

In this pause of out of house activities, it is important for personal safety and to shorten the economic inconvenience for all of us to remain away from others, take personal care of ourselves and make every effort to get the financial assistance offered. I encourage everyone to continue to access the website www.mlchamber.com, Facebook page and the We Stand Better Together COVID-19 / Coronavirus Community Resource Page supported by the MLCC. These pages provide avenues and paths to the state and federal forms and applications and information for the wage and overhead assistance programs. I personally along with the staff and other members of the board of the MLCC remain available and committed to assisting you, by email and telephone, even though our office is closed as directed by the Governor.

Due to the uncertainly of the ongoing Pandemic, the MLCC Annual Golf Outing scheduled for Friday, May 15th at Seven Springs Mountain Resort has been cancelled. I would like to use this platform to express our disappointment and to give special recognition to Tammy Shawley and Eric McElhone for their endless efforts of working with us in the creation of a spectacular outing with them this year. Thank you both!

Also, please remember to thank and continue to support our first responders.

Regards,
Robert W. King
MLCC President
King Legal Group, LLC


April 2020

A Message from the President

Even with the passing of snowy freezing overcast short days and icy roads that brought many to ski, rent accommodations, celebrate the holidays and participate in sponsored Christmas events from Mill Run to Stahlstown across the Laurel and Chestnut Ridges hosted by many of you who operate stores, resorts, restaurants, retailers and service providers in the Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce, the passing of the season has not dampened business. In fact, the events of the last season have encouraged our business members to step up, in the warm spring weather, with participation in the job fair, spring arts and craft show and golf, fishing and wedding season. Our members and their businesses are growing with more offerings of products and activities.

The events of our winter season are replaced with the coming member sponsored events at Out of the Fire Cafe, Donegal Event Center & CRCVFC, Mountain Pines Campground, Foggy Mountain Lodge & Restaurant Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Christian Family & Children’s Center, and the Days Inn Donegal. The new season has seen no decrease in business activity and brings the MLCC new and interesting members that bring demand for the expanded services, particularly those services offered by new members, namely, The Battle Zone, Thistledown at Segar House, Light on the Hill Outreach Church & Love Abounds Outreach, Champion Gas & Food Mart, Inc., Ramada Ligonier, Moseye Graphics, PNC Bank, Bella Florals, Country Dreams Bed & Breakfast LLC, Sadler-Bruner Insurance Agency, Bethlen Communities, Burrell Automotive, Acme Pizza Company, Caddie Shak Family Entertainment Center, Helen’s Hide Inn, Fur-Ever Beautiful Pet Grooming LLC, Mountain View Acres Plants and Produce, Somerset Screen Printing & Embroidery and A.A. Septic Tank Service joining MLCC.

We want to congratulate two of our members Scott Ludwick and Josh Crowe with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices the Preferred Realty. The Scott Ludwick Team was ranked 49th and the Wendy Kelly Group that Josh is affiliated with ranked 50th in the nation out of all BHHS Agents at the National Sales Convention last month in Nashville, Tennessee. Josh informed us that the spring market has arrived early with many buyers searching for properties and many homes going under contract within a week.

The state is also refilling with water and establishing the previous levels of water in Donegal Lake to coincide with the opening of fishing season at the lake and in local trout streams presenting renewed demand for services in that industry from members of the MLCC. The activity experienced by our members gives us visible evidence supporting and endorsing the theme of “Be Excited” adopted by the MLCC this year.

Regards,
Robert W. King
MLCC President
King Legal Group, LLC


March 2020

A Message from the President

Over my years in business and in the community served by the Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce (MLCC), I have observed members of both groups at odds with each other over incidents and conflicting needs and goals best resolved by compromise and accommodation from all involved. Compromise and accommodation, either with the aid of state agency intervention or by the parties involved, has been and will be needed to find a common ground in all disputes to capture benefits and minimize costs to both community and business in each matter.

As we saw in the last MLCC Job Fair held at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Mill Run, to be held again this year at The Celebration Place located at the Donegal Days Inn, the hundreds of open local jobs in the MLCC business community are drawing applicants into the area from surrounding towns and counties. The local community has more jobs, paying competitive wages, that encourage families, particularly teens and young adults, to focus their training and education to meet the requirements of local jobs and remain in the area served by the MLCC.

These same jobs come with periods of disruption to the community, some temporary and some permanent. Over the past six years we have experienced, in the area served by the MLCC, traffic congestion, road debris, noise, inconvenience and disruption to all dependent upon ease of access, including tourists, particularly around the turnpike and through Ohiopyle that will continue into the foreseeable future.

The MLCC is committed to fostering cooperation and accommodation with businesses through our membership focused events and informational platforms, both paper and digital, in order to ease the transition to the increase of local business and to maximize the number of new permanent employment opportunities that preserve our local labor pool, discourage population decline and provide predictable income for all regardless of skills and age.

I encourage all businesses and applicants to attend the MLCC Job Fair slated for Saturday, March 14, 2020 from 10am-2pm at The Celebration Place located at the Donegal Days Inn. The job fair is the ideal way to reach the needs of both employers and potential employees. It offers an event where businesses looking to hire quality employees and individuals seeking to broaden their employment opportunities can meet and engage in conversation. In addition, business representatives in attendance will have the opportunity to network with fellow business leaders in the community.

Robert W. King
MLCC President
King Legal Group, LLC.


February 2020

A Message from the President

This past year we had the excitement of new businesses opening in the Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce (MLCC) community, new members and new jobs, being a result. We were pleased to lend our flyer and our social media platforms in the support of several holiday events within the communities. The Melcroft Tree Light-up and the Springfield Township Light Up Night allowed community members to celebrate the “true meaning of Christmas” and a real sense of community by sponsoring events that brought them together.

The MLCC is anxious and committed to continuing efforts, to partner local businesses with the public, that will increase jobs in the area and hopefully preserve the integrity of families which could have suffered by the lack of available local employment matching skills and experience of residents. We invite all businesses and job seekers to attend our 2nd Annual Job Fair. This FREE event is on March 14th, 2020 from 10am-2pm at The Celebration Place at Days Inn in Donegal. Please see page 4 for more information.

The MLCC is devoted to more than the area along the Route 31 Corridor and we will find ways to encourage and promote employers to locate new and expand existing business in all areas of the chamber’s reach. We look forward to contribution of new thinking and projects that you believe helpful to grow and support business locally. We encourage all businesses to contact our office with thoughts and/or concerns and we invite all to join and grow with us

In the coming months, look for MLCC spotlights of business member services and business enhancing projects, including updates related to highway and utility infrastructure improvements, both ongoing and projected for the near future.

On behalf of the entire community, thank you to fellow member Excela Frick Hospital and our community’s First Responders for their professional competence and compassion during the turnpike tragedy on January 5. We are most fortunate to have these incredible resources and volunteers right in our back yards.

Please partner with the MLCC this year in enhancing business and the opportunities it will create for all.

Sincerely,

Robert W. King
MLCC President
King Legal Group, LLC.


January 2020

A Message from Kris

I have one wish for you as you embark on 2020: Be EXCITED!

Growth is coming: Donegal is the access point of many premier recreational and cultural destination in the regions including Hidden Valley & Severn Springs Ski Resorts, 8 state parks, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, the Duncan House and Kentuck Knob, Idlewild & Soak Zone Amusement Park and the many historical amenities found in Ligoiner. A part of our mission is to bring awareness to the Donegal Interchange Exit 91 and the Route 31 Corridor which directs traffic to all local businesses in our tri-county area. Through the hard work and perseverance of both current and past leaders of the MLCC, Donegal is now largely recognized as “The Gateway to the Laurel Highlands” which is the chamber’s official service mark.

The Route 31 Expansion Project is nearly complete. Businesses along the corridor understood the need for the inconvenience and praised Plum Construction for their hard work and kindness. Thanks for your patience, for the reward will be great for us all!

The LCT Energy/Rustic Ridge Mine is under operation and is bringing revenue and people to the area to support our local businesses. Events held at Seven Springs & Hidden Valley Resorts bring a diversity of family fun and the need for constant employment to the mountain. Development efforts like these help our economy grow stronger with every passing year.

The MLCC promises even bigger events this year for our members and our entire community to be excited about! The Build A Snowman Challenge was such a hit last year; we’ve started it even earlier in December. Our 2nd Annual Job Fair, to be held at Celebration Place at Days Inn in Donegal, is a perfect way for our business owners to find local talent. This year’s Golf Outing will be held at Seven Springs with even more golfers and more prizes. Everyone had a great time at last year’s Kids’ Day, we’re having TWICE the fun with TWO Kids’ Days in 2020. Always the most-awaited event of the year, 2020’s Ladies’ Day Bash will be bigger and better than ever!

The MLCC promises to make 2020 a year of hands-on involvement and support. We will be reaching out to both our members and our community to learn more about what YOU want and need, and what we can do for YOU!

I am EXCITED to announce the MLCC Executive Committee and Board of Directors, who will focus on helping you to make 2020 your best year ever.

President
Rob King – King Legal Group LLC

Vice President
Deanna Richter – LHTC Broadband

Treasurer
Mark Hughes – Hughes Physical Therapy

Secretary
Tammy Shawley – Seven Springs Mountain Resort

Directors
Juliann Brown – Alpine Retreat Bed & Breakfast
Jamie Stilley – Amerikohl Mining Inc.
Abe Wagner – BHHS the Preferred Realty
Josh Crowe – BHHS the Preferred Realty
Rich Naugle – Champion Lumber Company
Barb Skinner – Christian Family & Children’s Center
Ken Firestone – Firestone Insurance Agency LLC
Tom Guiher – Living Treasures Wild Animal Park
Joe Sarnelli – Sarnelli’s Corner
Shari Bukovac – Shari Bukovac Bookkeeping

I am equally EXCITED to announce our awesome team:

Stefanie Cramer – Administrative Assistant
Boss Bear Creative, LLC – Marketing & Social Media Manager
William Culver – Satellite Assistant
Cami DiBattista – Freelance Writer
Lori Shepler – Facebook Coordinator
Mindy Faidley – Ad Coordinator

Special thanks to Shari Bukovac for her past service as president of the board. Her faith and dedication brought growth to the organization. Events developed under Shari’s leadership also brought and will continue to bring a sense of fun to our communities, we are and will be forever thankful.

Be EXCITED, for this is where we choose to live and work and good things are happening!

Here’s to a Happy and EXCITING New Year!

Kris Enberg
Executive Director