Barbara and Clarke Dunham’s passion for model trains and miniature cityscapes as well as their remarkable talents in set design have lead to their world-class model train layouts in top venues around the nation. Their enterprise, ‘Railroads on Parade’ museum in Pottersville, was named the 2013 Business of the Year in Northern Warren County — while Joanne Ellsworth, proprietor of a Chestertown daycare center and Commander of the local American Legion — was named V.i.P. of the Year.
A woman who mentors young children and is active in community affairs was named the North Warren V.I.P for 2013 — and a business hailed for its potential in prompting a revival in downtown Pottersville has been named North Warren Business of the Year.
Chosen as V.I.P. of the Year was Joanne Ellsworth, who operates Creative Opportunity Day Care Center as well as serving as the Commander of American Legion Post 964 in Chestertown.
Awarded Business of the Year was Railroads on Parade, a model train extravaganza in Pottersville owned and operated by internationally acclaimed set designer Clarke Dunham and his wife Barbara.
The awards were announced April 23 by the North Warren Chamber of Commerce which sponsors the awards.
Chamber official Barbara Repp, head of the VIP nominating Committee, said Ellsworth was chosen for dedicating her energies not only to the children in her day care center, but towards many citizens of all ages in northern Warren County.
Ellsworth reaches out to others through her many community activities, whether it’s collecting necessities to send to soldiers overseas, assisting veterans at home, or organizing patriotic local events, Repp said.
“Joanne prepares our community children very well for the challenges of life — and she does so much else in the community too,” she said.
Railroads on Parade is a world-class model train museum that features award-winning layouts, with cityscapes crafted in intricate, realistic detail.
The Dunhams’ model train museum has been lauded as a major new development that is expected to boost tourism and bolster the local economy, as it attracts model train enthusiasts from around the nation to see its million-dollar layouts.
Repp and others say that the Dunhams’ commitment to locating and operating their model train enterprise in Pottersville represents a major investment and vote of confidence in Pottersville, which in recent years has endured challenging economic circumstances.
Several years ago, the Dunhams took a boxy empty building and transformed it into an inviting, ornately crafted landmark in town, Repp said.
“They’ve done a beautiful job — they’ve put a lot into their enterprise,” Repp said.
Dunham is the creator of the famed Citicorp train display in New York City as well as extensive model train layouts in Cincinnati, Chicago, Omaha and Williamsburg, Va. that have been viewed by more than 5 million people, and have been hailed as national attractions.
The annual V.I.P. dinner which will be honoring Joanne Ellsworth and the Dunhams is set for Friday May 17 at Green Mansions Golf Club.
Cocktails start at 5:30 p.m. and dinner follows about an hour later. The cost of the banquet is $30 per person. Entrees are Prime Rib, Chicken Marsala or Shrimp Scampi with all the fixings, followed by a dessert bar.
The deadline for reservations is May 7, and they may be called in to Green mansions at 494-7222 — with payment by credit card.