Volunteers at West Virginia Northern Community College have announced plans to honor Ohio County Commissioner Orphy Klempa of Wheeling for his long-standing community service.
Klempa will be acknowledged at the annual fund-raising dinner sponsored by the Wheeling campus Friends of the College and the West Virginia Northern Community College Foundation. For the fourth year in a row, the organizers have selected an outstanding community volunteer for recognition at the dinner, to be held this year on Saturday, March 23, at the Education Center building at 17th and Eoff streets downtown.
Past recipients include Mary Beth Hughes, Waneta Acker and Larry Bandi and, as is tradition, those in attendance will be treated to gourmet dining as prepared and served by the WVNCC Culinary Arts department and students. Theme for the 2013 dinner is “New York, New York,” and those in charge of the dinner details promise appropriate entertainment, silent and live auctions and, of course, some surprises. Initially, the chefs in the Culinary Arts department are mulling menus that could include “a study in traditional New York street fare” at the reception along with plans to “delve into the fine cuisine of this culinary mecca.”
Since 1995, Klempa, who is a West Virginia Northern graduate, has been service representative of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters West Virginia District. He was elected in November to the Ohio County Commission seat vacated by David Sims when he was named a Circuit Court judge. Klempa was sworn into office by Sims on Dec. 20 and he attended his first meeting as a commissioner on Jan. 2.
Previously, Klempa, a Democrat, was the state senator representing West Virginia’s first district which covers the counties of Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and a portion of Marshall County and resigned that position Dec. 10 to take his seat as commissioner. Before being selected a state senator, he served two terms in the West Virginia House of Delegates representing the third district, Wheeling proper.
“The Friends of the College board could think of no one who exemplifies the word ‘friend’ more than Orphy Klempa,” Nick Zervos, president of the Friends board, said. “Commissioner Klempa has been a friend for many years to West Virginia Northern, and his community service credentials are significant.” Dr. Mary Marockie, Foundation board president, said, “We hope Senator Klempa’s many friends join us in honoring him during what always is a fun-filled evening that we know will raise funds aiding students at West Virginia Northern.”
The dinner has been held in the Education Center lobby, Culinary Arts dining room and multi-purpose room since the building was renovated more than six years ago. Friends and Foundation boards have numerous dinner sponsorship levels available. More information on fund-raising opportunities can be obtained by calling Rana Spurlock, the college’s fund raising and development assistant, at 304-214-8906.
Klempa is co-chairman of Project BEST, the labor/management group representing some 6,000 union building tradesmen and 600 contractors in the Upper Ohio Valley. Currently, he is a member of the boards of Ohio Valley Medical Center, the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves on the governmental affairs committee, the Wheeling Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Ohio County Development Authority, which developed The Highlands, the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley and is financial secretary of Carpenters Local #3.
He is a former member of the West Virginia Northern Community College Board of Governors, former secretary of the West Virginia Joint Labor Union/Management Apprenticeship and Training Committee, former secretary of the Carpenters District Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, past vice president of the Upper Ohio Valley Building and Construction Trades Council, past president of the West Virginia State Council of Carpenters and former instructor in the Carpenters District Joint Apprenticeship and Training Program.
As a state senator, Klempa served as chair of the Interstate Cooperation Committee, vice chair of Economic Development Committee, vice chair of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and served on the following committees: Energy, Industry and Mining, Government Organization, Judiciary and Labor.
The graduate of Bellaire High School also graduated from a four-year carpentry apprenticeship program in 1977 and received an associate in applied science degree in Occupational Development from WVNCC in 2004. In 2011, he received the WVNCC Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award.
Other honors given Klempa include the 2007 Bellaire High School Alumni Association Achievement Award; the 2010 Defender of the American Middle Class Legislator of the year; 2011 Mountain State Trauma and Injury Prevention Coalition Senator of the year.
Klempa is married to the former Mary Jo Gray and the couple has five children and nine grandchildren.