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Huntington chamber gives Barry Burgess its top volunteer award

Barry Burgess, CPA, WVSCPA Past President and Managing Partner at Somerville & Company, received the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce's top volunteer award during the organization's 14th annual Awards Luncheon.

"Barry has served as treasurer of the chamber since 2013, and it's not just his knowledge in accountancy that makes him an amazing chamber board and executive committee member. He also has a real kindness and brings a great passion to everything he does with us," said Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bill Bissett. "His service to numerous organizations throughout our region is a testament to his commitment to serving others."

Burgess, a certified public accountant and managing partner at Somerville & Co. PLLC in downtown Huntington, is also known for his great sense of humor and his love of the 1970s rock and roll band KISS and band member Gene Simmons in particular. Burgess has even dressed up as the legendary band's front man at events in the community, so a professional Simmons impersonator in full costume was in attendance to present him with the award.

"This was a surprise and I had no idea, because if I did I would have gotten a haircut," said Burgess, who is bald.

Following a big laugh from the crowd, Burgess said he was truly honored to be recognized by the chamber.

"This is very humbling to me, and I really appreciate it," he said.

Burgess thanked all those in the business community who also volunteer their time and efforts to help the chamber accomplish its mission, which includes improving the region's economic climate.

"Looking out into the audience, I want to say that every one of you is a superior volunteer," he said. "You are here to support the chamber and volunteer in a bunch of activities. I want to thank all of you as well."

Burgess joined Somerville & Co. after graduating from Marshall University in 1985. Throughout his career, he has served in many leadership capacities and has made frequent presentations to various groups in the accounting profession and in the community.

He is a board member and president of Developmental Therapy Center in Huntington and serves as a member of the advisory board for the Division of Accountancy & Legal Environment in the Marshall University Lewis College of Business. He also serves as a board member and treasurer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Tri-State and serves as board member and executive committee member of the Society of Yeager Scholars.

In the past, Burgess taught accounting courses in the former Marshall Community and Technical College, which is now Mountwest Community and Technical College, and served in various other community organizations.

"My involvement with the chamber has been very rewarding," Burgess said. "I think the chamber does so many great things in our community, and I am honored to be a part of it."

Burgess and his wife, Rena, have three children and five grandchildren.

Bissett said the award is given to a chamber member annually to recognize his or her extraordinary personal commitment and significant impact to the chamber and the community.

"There are a lot of things that make a chamber successful, but the most important are all the people," Bissett said. "It's people like Barry Burgess who volunteer and donate their time to make a chamber do what it does. This event is an opportunity to recognize him and others who often, in an unsung way, are critical to accomplishing the chamber's mission to serve the business community and improve the region's economic climate."

The chamber also recognized and honored other members.

The Ambassador Award went to Cabell County Assessor Irv Johnson and Mark Fuhrman, area president of iHeartMedia, while the Downtown Live Award went to Veronica Ratcliff with Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

Macy Dingess, the 2019 Generation Huntington chairwoman, presented Generation Huntington awards to Kaylee Hassan with Mission West Virginia, Marty Emerson with Huntington's Kitchen, Charlie Robinson with Insurance Systems Inc. and Mendy Aluise with Somerville & Co. PLLC. Generation Huntington is the chamber's committee for young professionals.

The Women 2 Women Award presented by Debbie Lewis went to Sara Hibbard with Amazon.

Chamber cornerstone members were also recognized. They included Toney Stroud accepting for BrickStreet Insurance, Lisa Chamberlin accepting for Cabell Huntington Hospital, Melanie Butt accepting for Marshall University, Jeff Conley accepting for Natural Resource Partners, and Todd Campbell accepting for St. Mary's Medical Center.

"A lot of people who lead this chamber are obviously very busy but still find time to volunteer their time to make this chamber better, and this event is a way for us to recognize them for everything they do," Bissett said.

Bissett said the chamber has more than 550 members in Cabell and Wayne counties.

"We have everything from large employers to multigenerational, small family businesses in the chamber," he said. "They all deserve recognition because they are all important by providing jobs and opportunities to those who live and work here."

Article Courtesy: Fred Pace, The Herald Dispatch