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Excellence In Ectrepreneurship Awards 10th Anniversary 2001-2011 LogoFinalists in the 2011 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards (EIEA) program have been announced and will be recognized at the program’s 10th anniversary awards luncheon—featuring special guest speaker U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05)—on September 12 at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Ky.

The program, currently in its tenth program year, has recognized more than 30 of Southern and Eastern Kentucky’s top entrepreneurs and small business owners in its “Decade of Distinction” from 2001-2011.

The EIEA selection committee has named three finalists in each of the four awards categories that honor businesses or not-for-profit organizations for exemplifying the spirit of entrepreneurship and playing an important role in growing the region’s economy.

The 2011 EIEA finalists and their respective categories are:

       For-Profit Business

  • Rick Thomas, Co-Owner, Sonny’s Bar-B-Q, Somerset, Ky.
  • Jonathan Huston, President, Webbed Sphere Inc., d.b.a., Corbin, Ky.
  • Poff Carting Services/Legacy Carting, Gerald Poff, Todd Hopper, and Aaron Hopper, Owners

       For-Profit Small Business

  • Donovan Wadsworth, Owner, D&M Contracting, Inc., Richmond, Ky.
  • Richard A. Howerton, Owner, Howerton Engineering & Surveying, PLLC, Greenup, Ky.
  • Patricia Cieslak, Owner, The Perfect Setting Café & Catering, McDowell, Ky.

        Start-Up Business

  • Dave Weddle, President & CEO, Wellhead Energy Systems, LLC, Somerset, Ky.
  • Nick Noble, president and co-founder, The Fortress Group Inc., d.b.a. as Park Mammoth Resort, Park City, Ky.
  • Sandra G. Dingus, owner, president, and CEO, Drug Testing Centers of America, Paintsville, Ky.

        Not-for-Profit Entity

  • Jeff Rubin, Executive Director, Body Recall, Inc., Berea, Ky.
  • Cheryl and Mark Martin, Appalachian Foothills Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Co-Directors/Instructors, McKee, Ky.
  • Dr. David Worthy, CEO, Grace Community Health Center Inc., Gray, Ky.

Award recipients in each category will be announced at the EIEA awards luncheon, set to begin at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 12 at The Center, located in Somerset at 2292 South U.S. 27 at Traffic Light 15. All individual finalists will also be recognized.

Rogers, who has represented Kentucky’s Fifth Congressional District since 1981, will deliver a special address at the event. Dr. Doug Whitlock, president of Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) in Richmond, Ky., will serve as master of ceremonies.

“Entrepreneurs keep our rural region thriving with jobs and economic stability,” Rogers said. “The last 10 years truly served as a ‘Decade of Distinction’ as more partnerships developed between the local, state, and federal levels in support of entrepreneurs for job creation and retention in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.”

Additionally, the winner of the 2011 EIEA Collegiate Competition and students on the winning team during The Center’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI) Business Concept Competition this summer will be recognized at the luncheon.

As part of the awards program’s 10th anniversary, past EIEA recipients from 2001-2010 will be recognized at a pre-luncheon reception at The Center starting at 10 a.m.

Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Business and Technology, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, and The Center for Rural Development sponsor the annual awards program.

To register online for the event, visit, or call 606-677-6000. All registrations must be received by September 2, 2011.

The economic success of the enterprise, contributions to the community, and job creation and operational achievement as measured by innovative business practices, superior safety achievement, and superior technology are all factors considered when choosing the award recipients.

For more information on the EIEA program, visit A video library of previous EIEA award finalists may be viewed on the KEAN (Kentucky Entrepreneur Accelerator Network) Web site at