WYSOX TOWNSHIP - At its annual dinner on Thursday, the Central Bradford County Chamber of Commerce presented its 18th Annual Ann VanNess Spark Award to Nancy Williams of Towanda.

The chamber of commerce also presented its newly established Pay-it-Forward Award for "noble and charitable community service" to Nick Hurley, general manager of Hurley's Supermarkets.

Three other businesses and a non-profit agency - the Weigh Station Cafe, Gannon Associates, Procare Physical Therapy, and the Animal Care Sanctuary - also received newly established awards from the chamber.

The Spark Award is given to "a member of the local community who goes above and beyond the norm in supporting and promoting the area."

Williams "has worked quietly and humbly for the community" for many years and has served on the board of directors of local agencies, said Paul Sweitzer, who received the Spark Award last year and who presented this year's Spark Award to Williams.

Williams has volunteered for 28 years as the chairperson of the committee that administers a federal-funded emergency food and shelter grant program in Bradford County, which is associated with FEMA.

She is currently secretary of the board of directors of the United Way of Bradford County and has served as that agency's president and vice-president in the past.

Williams has also served on the board of directors of the Abuse & Rape Crisis Center and is currently a member of the board of directors of the Bradford County Regional Arts Council.

She has also volunteered in the Towanda Area School District for student activities, including the K-dettes.

Williams "is a strong force that tends to stay in the background," whose leadership helps makes an organization successful, Sweitzer said.

Williams said that it was "certainly a surprise" for her to receive the award.

"I have enjoyed all the volunteering I have done," she said.

Susan Portnoff, who is retiring this year as administrator of the chamber of commerce, presented the Pay-it-Forward Award to Hurley, saying that "whenever there is a need in the community, (Hurley) always steps forward. He does not do it for the self-promotion. He does it very quietly. He's always there and always very generous."

Lori Smith, the internal vice-president of the chamber of commerce, presented the newly established Old Faithful Award to Gannon Associates. The Old Faithful Award is given to a long-established business with involvement in the community and the chamber of commerce.

Max Gannon, who is currently the chairman of Gannon Associates' board of directors, had established Gannon Associates in 1973 with three employees.

Today, Gannon Associates has 10 offices, with over 75 employees, and it serves an area the covers Pennsylvania and New York, Smith said.

Gannon family members have also played important roles in the local community, she said.

Max Gannon has served as president of Memorial Hospital for over 10 years.

Max Gannon's son, Mark, who is CEO of Gannon Associates, is a member of the Towanda School Board and is on the board of directors of Memorial Hospital. Mark Gannon has also served on the board of directors of the Bradford County Branch YMCA and is president of the Towanda Area School District Education Association.

Cindie Gannon-Cooper, who is president of the Athens Business Association, has worked to help the Valley recover from the flooding from Tropical Storm Lee, Smith said.

The Weigh Station Cafe received the New Kid on the Block Award, which is given to an innovative and creative new business. Among the cafe's features that have benefited the community are its open mic nights and its scheduled live entertainment on Friday nights, said chamber board member Sue Ann Williams, who presented the award to the cafe.

The Animal Care Sanctuary received the Helping Hands Award, which goes to a non-profit agency with a positive community impact.

The People's Choice award for outstanding customer service was given to Procare Physical Therapy.

The new administrator of the chamber of commerce is Shannon Lord, who grew up in Wyalusing

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.