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The Berne Chamber, which this year will mark its 35th year of existence, on Tuesday evening posthumously honored the two people who helped cement the organization as the driving force it has become in the community.
The late Delbert and Irene Sprunger, who not only helped secure a permanent home for the chamber but also served as two of the city's most prominent advocates, were honored with the chamber's Lifetime Achievement Award during the organization's annual celebration dinner.
Delbert Sprunger died in 2011, and his wife died two years earlier. But their passion and dedication to the city of Berne was celebrated during Tuesday's gathering.
The Sprungers owned and operated the Musik House in Berne for many years, and were active in the First Mennonite Church and throughout the community. Delbert was involved with the Boy Scouts, and was president of the high school music boosters and the South Adams Arts Council.
He was a member of the organizing board of the Adams County Community Foundation and served on the board of the United Way of Adams County. He and Irene served on the Berne Swiss Days committee for 15 years.
The Sprungers also worked diligently to preserve and advance the strong Swiss heritage which is prominent in Berne, and were active in the developmental stages of the Berne Chamber of Commerce, leading the efforts to establish a permanent home for the organization.
Following their deaths, their son, Rick Sprunger, donated a seven-foot family heirloom clock to the Heritage Room at the Berne Public Library as a living legacy to the couple.
A letter from Rick Sprunger was read during Tuesday's ceremony. In it he thanked the chamber for "this great honor being given to my parents."
"They were partners in all things, and were a great compliment to each other in all of their activities. Their strong Swiss heritage served them well in being an extremely organized and hard working team that functioned so well together for the betterment of their community. Their award was knowing that they were giving the best to their community, and hopefully helping to guide it forward to future success," the letter read.
"If my dad and mom were here today, I'm sure they would say that there are many other community people more deserving of this honor. But in accepting this Lifetime Achievement Award, they both would very humbly thank you all from the bottom of their heart, and hope that what they accomplished will continue to have a positive effect on their beloved Swiss community."
FCC (Adams) honored as Business of the Year
In nine short years, FCC (Adams) LLC has gone from being the new kid on Berne's industrial block to being one of the city's leading employers and fastest-growing companies.
For those efforts, the Japan-based company was honored as the chamber's Business of the Year for 2011.
FCC owns and operates 22 factories in nine countries, but in 2003 the firm opened only its third manufacturing facility in the United States when it chose Berne as its new home. Other U.S. plants are in Portland and in North Carolina.
The company, which produces clutch assembly component parts primarily for Ford Motor Co., opened production in Berne in 2005 with 37 employees and an annual payroll of $1.8 million. Today, the company boasts 185 workers and an annual payroll of $6.6 million.
"What a success story, especially in the worst economy in 80 years," said chamber board member Mark Settlemyre in presenting the award. "Everyone in Berne has a better standard of living as a result of FCC coming here."
Elizabeth Daniels, administrative manager of FCC (Adams), said the company was "very honored" to receive the award.
"It's been a prosperous and pleasant experience for all involved, and we have a strong commitment to expanding our customer base," Daniels said.