AMR Board Chair/Highland Chamber Of Commerce Director Leaving

It’s not often in small communities that a non-local gets fully accepted into the fold, but one exception to that rule here in Highland has been Josh Umar, whose work ethic and volunteerism won people over – and those people were saddened to learn recently that Josh will be leaving the area.

“Well, it is bittersweet. I’m very proud of the work that I’ve done here, both with the Chamber, and in the role that I had before as Business Resource Coordinator with The Highland Center, and have enjoyed it – have enjoyed the support, have appreciated the support that the county has given me. But I think it’s time for me to be a little closer to family, you know, reaching that stage in my life. So I’m going to try to seize an opportunity to do that.”

He continued, “So my official last day will be July 12th. There’s the possibility, if the Board approves it, that I can stay around a little while remotely, and do some consulting to help continue moving the Chamber forward. But officially speaking, my last day as Executive Director is July 12th.

“We have a great person already slated to come in. The Board has appointed Chris Swecker, Interim Executive Director upon my departure. We had just hired Chris as our new marketing coordinator, but, you know, it was clear even before then, that he had what it takes to really do a wonderful job with the Chamber. And so the thought process before I was thinking about leaving was, we could get someone in here who can pinch hit for me, he’s great with people, he’s great with members, he’s got marketing talent, and that we would really make a great team. And then it became clear that, you know, I was going to be able to take this opportunity, like I said to be closer to family in some other parts of the country, and we had the perfect guy waiting right there.”

The Chamber’s gain will be Allegheny Mountain Radio’s loss, as Chris will move on from his position as WVLS assistant station coordinator.

Josh’s loss will be felt in a number of areas, including here at AMR, where he presided over the Board of Directors.

“That’s one of the unfortunate parts of this change is that I’ve had to resign from the boards that I serve on, including the Allegheny Mountain Radio board. You know, I’ve been heavily involved on the Medical Center board, Highland Education Foundation, Allegheny Mountain Radio, and then more, you know, as I volunteered my time throughout the community, and I’m just as sorry to be leaving those organizations, having to step away from those, I mean, it’s incredible work. I mean AMR is so crucial to the community and such a –  such a unique gem. It’s such a bright spot for the service area, and its broadcast area. And, you know, I still have a lot of fond memories of the times going back to when I was coming to the county for the first time to begin looking at property, and being able to listen to the radio and just immediately picking up on the fact that this is different – this is different in a really good way. And so, that’s going to be something that I’ll take with me, and I will continue to listen online.”

And his final thoughts before departing?

Well, it’s been great to know all of you. And again, you know, I’ve never felt anything since I moved here but a welcoming atmosphere and support for the work that I was doing in the community, and from the people that I was doing it for. And I will miss all of the businesses, and I will miss all of the young people, and then I will miss all of the fellow board members that I’ve gotten to work with on these great organizations.”

“And you will always have a fan from afar in me, and I will root for you from wherever I’m at.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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