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Follansbee Chamber of Commerce President Stepping Down


The president of the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce has announced she’s stepping down from the position after this year, but she hasn’t slowed down in her last few months in the job.

Debbie Puskarich, a chamber member for 21 years, said she and fellow officers Charlotte Kolenc, who has been in the chamber for 25 years, and Cindy Kocher, a 10-year member, have agreed to step down to pursue more personal interests, including traveling with family.

But Puskarich added she and Kolenc will continue to serve on the chamber’s board of directors.

“We are not going to disappear. We are just going to be serving in a different way,” she said.

Puskarich noted the move is in keeping with the chamber’s bylaws, which call for officers to serve no more than three years while board members may serve until they choose to resign.

She said the new slate of officers will include Eric Fithyan as president, Jeanne Wohnhas as vice president and Jennifer McFadden as secretary, while Brandy Puskarich will trade the office of vice president for treasurer.

Though not strangers to the chamber, the four will be formally introduced at its annual dinner on Nov. 17 at St. Francis Centre.

At the dinner, she and other chamber leaders also will be recognizing several citizens for their service and leadership in the community.

They are: Kocher, who will be recognized as Citizen of the Year; Monica Rotellini-Myers of Moe’s on Main, the chamber’s Business of the Year; the Rev. Joe Cuomo and Shirley Cuomo, Twila Mezan, Cathy Ferrari, Phyllis Riccadonna and Tom McGaughey.

Chamber member Suzanne Davidson also will be presenting educational grants to local teachers, which are funded through a donation from Pat and Lou Accetollo.

Tickets for the dinner are $30 and may be purchased in advance only at First National Bank of Follansbee or by calling 304-527-1770.

Puskarich noted the chamber also will be holding a free dinner for all Brooke County first responders on Oct. 28 at St. Francis Centre. She said invitations were sent to each police, fire and ambulance department but first responders who missed them may make a reservation by calling the above number by Monday.

Puskarich is happy to be going out with so many activities, following a year when pandemic curtailed many, and looks forward to seeing what the new slate of officers puts forth.

She said when she became involved with the group 21 years ago, landline telephones and the U.S. Postal Service were members’ primary means of communication. She said while there still are some who like to receive paper mail, e-mail, texting and social media are becoming much more common.

Puskarich said whatever tools are used, “It’s time for the younger ones to take us to the next level. I’ve always been a believer that change is good. I think it energizes an organization so it doesn’t become dull.”


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