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HUNTINGTON — Seven recipients were recently honored with Power of Performance Awards for their efforts to change lives, put people to work or revitalize communities across southern West Virginia.

The awards were presented last week during the 2021 “Small Communities, BIG Solutions” conference, which showcased West Virginia successes and highlighted what is working across the state’s 21 southernmost counties.

The conference was organized by the Alliance for Economic Development of Southern West Virginia, housed in the Marshall University Research Corporation, West Virginia Community Development Hub and Coalfield Development.

Sara Payne Scarbro, associate vice president of external engagement for the Marshall University Research Corporation, said the awards committee likes to highlight the change agents who are making a positive difference in the state.

Founder and executive director of Arts in Action in Hurricane Joni Cantrell was awarded in the “Changing Lives” category for her work in cultivating relationships with an average of 500 students per year through the power of the arts.

Jobs & Hope WV Transition Agents were also awarded in the “Changing Lives” category for their service in assisting people in recovery as they prepare for potential educational and/or career opportunities.

Marshall CORE, an initiative of Marshall Health was awarded the “Putting People to Work” award for providing resources and support necessary to help people in recovery — more than 220 — re-enter the workforce in a 12-county region.

Terri Giles also received the “Putting People to Work” category for her service in launching and developing Appalachian Headwaters programs, a nonprofit based in Lewisburg, West Virginia, with a mission to invest in Appalachia’s future.

A retired 25-year veteran of the Charleston Police Department, Errol Randle was awarded in the “Revitalizing Communities” category for his efforts developing strategies and initiatives that promote successful outcomes for incarcerated people and/or people in long-term recovery.

Jason Grubb, who died earlier this year, received an award in the “Revitalizing Communities” category for his service to his hometown of Welch, West Virginia. Grubb was able to secure grant aid and other funds, in excess of $1 million for Welch, leading to the city’s ability to maintain a high level of service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The final award was presented to Dr. Drema Mace Hill, who has spent much of her professional career serving West Virginians in the health sector. Currently serving as vice president for community engagement and development at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Hill works at the intersection of higher education, community workforce development, community engagement and partnerships to guide the creation, implementation and evaluation of integrated strategies that generate health improvements.

Hill has replicated 18 opioid prevention and awareness toolkits in West Virginia, created an international research project in partnership with Kilimanjaro Medical University in Tanzania and helped bring millions of dollars in funding to the School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Courtney Hessler is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch, covering police and courts. Follow her on Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.

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