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To view more photos from the 2011 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards (EIEA) “Decade of Distinction” program and awards luncheon celebrating 10 years of excellence in entrepreneurship, visit

EIEA award recipients from 2001-2010

The region’s top small business owners and entrepreneurs were recognized for their work in helping grow the economy of Southern and Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 12 at the 10th anniversary Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards (EIEA) program hosted at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset.

Award recipients in four EIEA business categories were honored by their peers during the “Decade of Distinction” awards program and luncheon, sponsored by The Center, Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Business and Technology and Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation.

U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05), who was unable to attend the event, congratulated and encouraged the award recipients and finalists in a special video message played at the event.

“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.”

The winners and finalists of the 2011 EIEA “Decade of Distinction” awards program and their respective business categories include:


For-Profit Business EIEA Award Recipient:

Jonathan Huston, President,, Corbin, Ky.

Finalists: Gerald Poff, Todd Hopper, and Aaron Hopper, Owners, Poff Carting Services/Legacy Carting, Pittsburg, Ky.; and Rick Thomas, Co-Owner, Sonny’s Bar-B-Q, Somerset, Ky.


For-Profit Small Business EIEA Award Recipient:

Donovan Wadsworth, Owner, D&M Contracting, Inc., Richmond, Ky.

Finalists: Richard A. Howerton, Owner, Howerton Engineering & Surveying, PLLC, Greenup, Ky.; and Patricia Cieslak, Owner, The Perfect Setting Cafe’ & Catering, McDowell, Ky.


Start-Up Business EIEA Award Recipient:

Sandra G. Dingus, Owner, President & CEO, Drug Testing Centers of America, Paintsville, Ky.

Finalists: Nick Noble, President and Co-Founder, The Fortress Group, Inc., dba Park Mammoth Resort, Park City, Ky.; and Dave Weddle, President & CEO, Wellhead Energy Systems, LLC, Somerset, Ky.


Not-for-Profit Entity EIEA Award Recipient:

Cheryl & Mark Martin, Co-Directors/Instructors, Appalachian Foothills Therapeutic Equestrian Center, McKee, Ky.

Finalists: Dr. David Worthy, CEO, Grace Community Health Center, Inc., Gray, Ky.; and Jeff Rubin, Executive Director, Body Recall, Inc., Berea, Ky.

Dr. Robert Rogow, dean of Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Business and Technology, opened the program and EKU President Dr. Doug Whitlock served as master of ceremonies.

In celebration of EIEA’s 10th anniversary, a pre-event reception was held at The Center for all previous award winners throughout the program’s 10-year history.

The selection of award finalists and recipients is determined by a committee of partner representatives and selected external stakeholders. 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 awarding the finalists.

EKU student Andrew Pennington of Richmond and EKU faculty sponsor and assistant professor Dr. Zek Eser were recognized as the winners of this year’s Excellence in Entrepreneurship Collegiate Business Concept Challenge. Pennington won the competition for his innovative business idea, “Contractor Yard Sale,” an online classified database for contractors and suppliers.

Additionally, the First-Place winners of The Center’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI) youth program’s 2011 Business Concept Competition were honored for their business idea: an outdoor recreation and entertainment facility on Lake Cumberland. Each member of the Cumberland Adventure team—comprised of Nathaniel Calloway, Bell County; Tim Taylor, Madison County; Katherine Wells, Johnson County; and Shelby Boyd and Faith Call of Pulaski County—received an offer of a Presidential Scholarship from EKU.

Contributing partners for this year’s program were:

Gold Sponsors: AT&T and Forcht Group of Kentucky

Silver Sponsor: Outdoor Venture Corporation

Bronze Sponsors: SafeAuto, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development, Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, Strategic Planning Specialists

Friends Level Sponsors: Eastern Kentucky University Masters of Business Administration Program, Appalachian Development Alliance, Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Somerset Recycling Services Inc., Rockcastle County Chamber of Commerce, and Five Talents Financial Group

For more information on the EIEA program, visit The Center’s website at and click on the EIEA link at the bottom of the homepage. A video library of previous EIEA award finalists may be viewed on the KEAN (Kentucky Entrepreneur Accelerator Network) website at or through a link on The Center’s website. Full program information can also be found at

To be eligible for EIEA competition, businesses must be located  in one of the following 55 Southern and Eastern Kentucky counties: Adair, Bath, Bell, Boyd, Boyle, Breathitt, Carter, Casey, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Edmonson, Elliott, Estill, Fleming, Floyd, Garrard, Green, Greenup, Harlan, Hart, Jackson, Jessamine, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Lincoln, McCreary, Madison, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Metcalfe, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Rowan, Russell, Taylor, Wayne, Whitley, or Wolfe. 


EIEA winner Jonathan Huston of TrollandToad.Com









EIEA winner Sandra G. Dingus of Drug Testing Centers of America










EIEA winner Donovan Wadsworth of D& M Contracting Inc.










EIEA winners Cheryl and Mark Martin of Appalachian Foothills Therapeutic Equestrian Center