ELLIJAY, Ga. – Hosting their lunch at First Baptist Church in Ellijay, officials at the Gilmer Chamber’s awards ceremony announced the 2017 award recepients.
The ceremony kicked of with a welcome by Chamber President Paige Green before introducing the night’s guest speaker, Chuck Reece, editor in chief of The Bitter Southerner, an online feature site that Reece stated is about the South and that defies stereotypes and tells of stories hidden within the people who live there.
Offering words of encouragement and growth for the Chamber and its work on the economy, Reece brought about several stories of his own from his father and his childhood home’s resemblance to Mayberry in The Andy Griffith Show.
Shortly after, the main event of the evening saw the Chamber’s three largest awards for the year being delivered.
First, the Citizen of the Year, a lifetime achievement award, went to Larry Davis. Nominated by Harold Hamontree, Davis’ nomination stated he had earned his position from support for organizations like Habitat for Humanity, American Heart Association, Lion’s Club, Apple Country Auto Club, Scouting, and many more.
He has contributed uncountable hours in support of benefits, shows, and fundraisers as he extends a helping hand to everyone in need. To celebrate and recognize that effort and service, the Gilmer Chamber announced him as Citizen of the Year.
The Chamber Member of the Year went to Chris Wang, with notations of the depth of servant leadership and continued support of all that the Chamber has to offer. Wang joined the community in 2012 and quickly engaged through his years as a Chamber Ambassador and Ambassador Chair. He has sponsored an Education Celebration, is a member of the Gilmer Optimist Club, and graduated from Leadership Gilmer in 2016.
This year, he has joined the Gilmer Chamber Board of Directors and serves on the Executive Committee as secretary/treasurer where he also continues working as board liason to the ambassadors. To celebrate and recognize that effort and service, the Gilmer Chamber announced him as 2017 Chamber Member of the Year.
The Business of the Year was awarded to Pilgrim’s, a top employer that hosts $30 million in economic impact on the community where many employees hold decades of service.
Also active in the community, Pilgrim’s has helped with Rotary’s Veteran’s Appreciation Dinner, Gilmer Touchdown Club working with football and concessions, sponsored Business Connections and Education Celebrations, and support FFA and Young Farmers in Gilmer Schools.
Though not an award, a position of responsibility and growth, the Chamber ceremonially changed chairman of the Board of Directors from 2017 Chairman Lex Rainey to 2018 Chairman Trent Sanford. Turning over the gavel represents the transfer of the position, the power, and the responsibility of the chairman from one year to the next.
The start of a new year for the Chamber grows into new opportunities for the county. A night like this tethers the two years together through honoring those who have worked so hard over the last year and looking forward to the new leadership and new year with encouragement and momentum.