POINT PLEASANT — The community came out on Tuesday to honor a man simply known as Mario to most people.
Just as they know him on a first-name basis, Mario Liberatore knows his community on a first-name basis as well, and has recently been honored with three major accolades - West Virginia Volunteer Banker of the Year, West Virginia Main Street Director of the Year, Point Pleasant Rotarian of the Year.
During a reception organized by his colleagues at Ohio Valley Bank on Tuesday, a special presentation on Liberatore’s role in the community took place at the bank’s Point Pleasant branch.
Jeff Smith of OVB helped emcee the presentation, speaking about his first impression of Liberatore, saying he had a funny haircut and a name he couldn’t spell but over the years that first impression turned into a lasting impression best summed up in the word “ubiquitous.” Smith simply said Libertatore was “amazing” in that he was everywhere in the community, jokingly pointing out the fact he was also on the walls of OVB and even on the special cake ordered in his honor.
Smith then introduced Sean Hill, a representative from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office who presented Liberatore with a proclamation acknowledging the West Virginia Volunteer Banker of the Year award on behalf of the governor.
Next up was Mason County Commission President Rick Handley who spoke on behalf of Commissioners Bob Baird and Miles Epling as well as County Administrator John Gerlach. Handley read the commission’s proclamation which acknowledged many of Liberatore’s efforts to improve the community, including his work with Pleasant Valley Hospital, Marshall University’s Mid-Ohio Valley Center, Main Street Point Pleasant, Rotary and his work on updating the athletic facilities at Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School.
The commission’s proclamation also declared Tuesday, Aug. 21 as Mario P. Liberatore Day in Mason County.
Then, Point Pleasant Mayor Brian Billings, accompanied by City Clerk Amber Tatterson, read a city proclamation also declaring Tuesday, Aug. 21 as Mario P. Liberatore Day in the City of Point Pleasant. Billings also spoke about Liberatore’s dedication to the city through his various volunteering efforts.
Tom Wiseman of OVB then took the podium and described Liberatore as the “walking, talking, breathing example of what a community banker is…he’s absolutely Mr. Mason County.”
Then, Liberatore seemed to reluctantly take the podium and said a few words, speaking about coming to Mason County in 1968 and the people he’d met along the way, giving special recognition to Charles Lanham who was also in attendance.
“He’s been a great friend, he’s taught me a lot and how to close a deal,” Liberatore said of Lanham.
Liberatore then went on to talk about different projects in the community which were meaningful to him and talked about the support he receives from his coworkers and especially his family.
Liberatore wrapped up his remarks by saying what he believed a community banker does which is “make this a better place to live and I think we do that.”