John Decker received the President’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Welsh Heritage in Northeast Pennsylvania during the St. David’s Society of Lackawanna County 109th annual banquet at Genetti’s in Dickson City.
President Beth Landmessar opened the program. She welcomed all attendees and introduced the various ethnic groups and people in attendance, including attorney Edmund Monsky from the Amos Lodge 136 B’nai B’rith; Ed Karpovich from the Friends of Poland; Joe Parise from the Lackawanna County Columbus Day Association; Harry Haas from the Wyoming Valley St. David’s Society; and Betsy Lewis from the U.S. Embassy in Minsk, Belarus.
Decker, who also celebrated his birthday at the dinner on March 2, accompanied the Welsh national anthem, which was sung in Welsh, and the Star Spangled Banner. Elder Linda D. Griffiths of the Community of Christ Church led the invocation and gave the final benediction.
Landmesser thanked the audience for the last two years as president and installed Bruce A. Smallcombe Sr. as the new society president. She presented him with love spoons and miner’s lamp. Smallcombe spoke about his path to the presidency.
Torry Watkins spoke about the 150th anniversary of the Avondale Mine disaster and Dr. Robert Powell of the Carbondale Historical Society discussed the last two choir visits from Wales and the Valley View High School trip to Wales. He commented on how the Welsh traditions are still alive in the region.
Katherine Crusi, the 2018 winner of the David Morris Award of the Festival of Wales, accompanied by Keith Triezel, entertained the group with several popular show tunes and Welsh songs.
Arrah Fisher was honored as an afterschool champion by the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network.
Fisher was honored in the category of quality for her outstanding work in developing, supporting and promoting meaningful high-quality afterschool/out-of-school programs to benefit children and families across Pennsylvania.
Fisher provides a fun, engaging, safe space for middle school students to learn something new, make friends and challenge themselves during the Cooperage Project’s Pop-Up Club, according to the organization. The club is a free STEAM-focused three-day-a-week program for students from Wayne Highlands Middle School and cyber and home schooled students.
Fisher provides high-quality experiences for the students that embody the mission of the Cooperage Project, which embraces diversity and celebrates shared experiences.