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The Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce recently honored Bill George (left) CEO of IrontonTelephone with its Spirit Award. He is shown with state Rep. Gary Day, R-187th, who presented him with a citation from the state House. PRESS PHOTO BY ELSA KERSCHNER The Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce recently honored Bill George (left) CEO of IrontonTelephone with its Spirit Award. He is shown with state Rep. Gary Day, R-187th, who presented him with a citation from the state House. PRESS PHOTO BY ELSA KERSCHNER
Ashley Hofmann carries an Argentine black and white tegu around the room at the the 20th annual Spirit Award ceremony. Ashley Hofmann carries an Argentine black and white tegu around the room at the the 20th annual Spirit Award ceremony.
This African black-footed penguin from the LV Zoo enjoyed walking on a table at the dinner. This African black-footed penguin from the LV Zoo enjoyed walking on a table at the dinner.

Ironton Telephone's Bill George honored with Chamber's Spirit Award

Thursday, May 22, 2014 by ELSA KERSCHNER ekerschner@tnonline.com in Local News

Ironton Telephone President and CEO Bill George was recently honored by the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce with the group's Spirit Award.

Members of the Chamber met at the Northern Valley Emergency Medical Services Building, Ormrod, to honor George, a long-time member, for his service to the community.

Past President and Master of Ceremonies Jason Breidinger thanked everyone for attending the 20th annual Spirit Award ceremony on May 10.

He said George's two decades of service was a long time.

Breidinger also ac-knowledged members of the audience including state Rep. Gary Day, R-187th, Whitehall Mayor Ed Hozza, North Whitehall Township Manager Jeff Bartlett and Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Iannelli.

Breidinger jokingly said Iannelli was there only for the food.

"We are now in Carbon County," Iannelli said. "Jason, you have been the bridge. We love this partnership.

"Bill George, you are so typical of what makes this great."

A moment of silence was then held for Everett Kaul and Susie Olewine, members of the Chamber who died the previous year.

Day then addressed the gathering saying the Spirit Award brings people in the community together.

"We want to honor you," Day said. "Just by showing up you show that spirit.

"Bill George, I worked with you at Service Electric. You were asked what you thought about employees' ideas about the business and you said, 'If it's fair, we'll go forward with it.'"

Day then presented George with a citation from himself and the state House of Representatives.

"He's a legend in the Lehigh Valley, a Lion for 55 years and 28 years with the North Whitehall Planning Commission," Day noted. "Congratulations from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

Following Day's presentation, Breidinger read the list of sponsors for the banquet, which included: Bechtel's Pharmacy, Icore Consulting, Ironton Telephone, Keystone Technology, Lehigh Valley Zoo, Maron Financial Solutions, The Neffs National Bank, North Whitehall Township, PenTeleData and Prudential Real Estate.

Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller also presented a citation to George.

"I am glad to have the opportunity to give a proclamation to Bill," Muller said. "I am very impressed with what you've done, and did it in our county.

Breidinger next introduced Rick Molchany, president and CEO of Lehigh Valley Zoo.

Molchany said the Lehigh Valley Zoo has been a treasure for 100 years.

"In 1906, Gen. Harry Trexler donated 2,000 acres and, in 1911, the first bison were brought in," Molchany said. "They are representative of Lehigh County.

"We are an accredited facility and serve 100 percent of the schools in Lehigh County. The students come to learn about wildlife and conservation.

"Imagine if you were in second grade and saw these animals."

Zoo employees Ashley Hofmann and Shiri Peter brought three animals to introduce to the audience.

The first was an Argentine black and white tegu.

The lizard-like reptile was flipping its tongue in and out as Hofmann carried it around the room.

Peter noted the smell the tegu emits.

She said people should not get pets if they cannot care for them their entire life.

She also talked about pythons released into the wild, which were killing native species of animals.

A fennec fox from North Africa was then presented.

This fox, which weighs only three pounds, has large ears that help regulate body temperature since they are a desert animal. The fennec fox is the smallest of the canine species.

An African black-footed penguin walked around on a table as Hofmann and Peter pointed out the population has dropped from 1-1/2 million to 50,000, putting them on the endangered species list.

Guano harvesting and an oil spill caused much of the damage.

Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Schmidt then addressed the audience.

He said George was a patron and community leader in the schools, Y's, churches and townships.

"You name it and he has his stamp on it," Schmidt said.

In addition to the Spirit Award, Schmidt presented George with citations from state Sen. Pat Browne, R-16th, and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

Craig Brady said his job interview at Ironton lasted six hours. George told him they were looking for someone who could best portray the company and its ideals.

Ironton Telephone Director of Network Operations Tim Hausman also saluted George.

Before being hired, Hausman said he learned the company wanted someone who valued his family, employees and the company.

"He lets employees be involved with their children's activities," Hausman said.

First Vice President of PenTeleData Nancy Treskot, a board member of the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce, said she knows George from a different avenue.

Founded in 1994, PenTeleData is Pennsylvania's largest provider of Internet service and data connectivity and remains a family-run organization based in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The consortium includes Ironton Telephone, Blue Ridge Communications and Service Electric.

"This gentleman knows the meaning of a handshake, integrity, honesty and it means his entire family,." Treskot said.

She left tickets to the zoo for each person attending the event.

In addition to the award ceremony, there was a Chinese auction with proceeds going to the Lehigh Valley Zoo.