Thumbs up ... to entrepreneur Gary Ambler, selected by the Greater Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce as the 2014 Business Leader of the Year. After a teaching and coaching career, Ambler joined his father as a partner in Marvin Ambler Building Contractors. He was also one of the five original developers of Lewisburg’s Brier Inn Complex, later becoming the inn’s sole owner, adding the Hampton Inn in 1999 and Fairfield Inn and Suites in 2011.
Thumbs up ... to Bryce Perdue and his brother, Dillon, who both won state championships at the West Virginia Junior Championships in Parkersburg. It was the second junior states title for each sibling. Bryce, 12, a sixth-grader at Shady Spring Middle School, won the championship in the 11-12 69-pound division. Dillon, 8, a second-grader at Shady Spring Elementary, brought home the winner’s trophy at the 7-8 47-pound class. In addition, William Godby of the Eastern Greenbrier Wrestling Club won the 6 and Under, 41-pound state title. For the year, he has a 61-4 record.
Thumbs down ... to West Virginia being among the worst states in the country in long-term budget planning, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The state should adopt a set of proven budget-planning tools that could help it weather difficult economic times, build an attractive business climate, and make government more effective and efficient, the report finds.
Thumbs up ... to winners of the Governor’s Arts Awards. The late Donald Lee Page and Cathey Crowell Sawyer received Lifetime Achievement Awards. Sandra Shaw, chair of the Fine Arts Department at Woodrow Wilson High School, received the Arts in Education Award for an individual. Susan L. Adkins, a music teacher and executive director of Carnegie Hall, received the Leadership in the Arts award. A Leadership in the Arts organizational award went to the Community Music Association in Charleston. The Arts in Education organizational award was presented to the Clay Center Explore and Soar 21st Century Community Learning Center in Charleston. Artist of the Year awards went to Barrie Kaufman and Nina Denton Pasinetti, both of Charleston. John Gillespie of Huntington was honored with the individual Distinguished Service to the Arts award. Delegate John O’Neal, R-Raleigh, was recognized for his support of the statewide VH1 Save The Music Foundation program. Sen. Ronald F. Miller, D-Greenbrier, was recognized with Cultural Facilities Awards.
Thumbs up ... to a new digital magazine focused on the arts in West Virginia for pledging a portion of its subscriptions to help with the revitalization of Theatre West Virginia. For every subscription State Of The Art Magazine receives through June 10, $5 will be donated to help TWV Act II. SOTA Magazine works to connect artists and art lovers across the state and invites them to share in a statewide creative community.
Thumbs up ... to Sewing for Souls, a group of women who meet at Daniels Bible Church in Daniels to sew dresses for children. The clothing is then sent by Greater Beckley Christian School seniors to the Dominican Republic where the clothes are distributed at orphanages. This is the group’s second year for providing much-needed clothing. The latest gift included more than 100 dresses.
Thumbs down ... to a decline in mining and other industries that has left West Virginia with the slowest growing personal income nationwide in 2013. Statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis indicated the state’s personal income grew 1.5 percent in 2013 as compared to North Dakota’s highest increase of 7.6 percent.