The Oconee County Chamber of Commerce is moving into the new year with a new chairman and a new catchword — “outstanding.”
The word was adopted recently at the chamber’s annual planning retreat, Chamber Chairman Clint Watson told those attending the Members Annual Meeting & Dinner Thursday evening at the Oconee Civic Center.
“How will we be outstanding in 2018?” asked Watson. “I believe it’s simple. I believe it comes down to ‘ask and you shall receive.’”
Watson, who took over the chairmanship from Cindy Haddon, encouraged members that in their quest to be outstanding they could meet and get to know other members who can help them reach their goals.
Haddon, who guided the chamber through a change in staff when former president Kay Keller and former chamber manager Sarah Caven resigned last year, thanked them for their dedication and work. She also introduced the new President Courtney Bernardi and chamber manager Marshall Hooks.
Bernardi and Hooks both had chamber experience and this made the transition seamless, said Haddon, an employee of Walton EMC, which sponsored the awards ceremony.
Haddon also made special recognition of Julia Estess, the chamber director of special events, and for the many people who volunteered last year at chamber events and meetings.
“You all have truly made such a difference,” she said. “That is what makes our chamber so unique.”
Bernardi also encouraged members to continue their volunteer work.
“Our success depends on those willing to give up their time and talents and energy in pursuit of chamber goals,” she said.
Numerous awards were presented during the evening.
- James McClain Leadership Award: Delena Brockman of Piedmont Athens Regional Oconee Health Campus.
- Chamber Ambassador of the Year: Lorie Petersen of BankSouth.
- Sharon Johnson Volunteer of the Year: David Williams, retired businessman.
- Larry Risse Agribusiness of the Year: J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research and Education Center (Eric Elsner).
- Outstanding New Farmer: Mark and Shannon Martin, the owners of Classic City Clydesdales in Bishop.
- Chamber Volunteer of the Year: Linda Maples of Coldwell Banker Upchurch Realty.
- Women in Business Diamond Award: Kay Keller of the University of North Georgia.
- Business of the Year: Oconee State Bank.
Special awards were also presented to outgoing Chamber Board members Dee Dee Gaines of St. Mary’s Healthcare, Scott Miller of Classic City Chem Dry, Whitney Sperlik of the Oconee County Parks and Recreation, and Joey Wilson of AmeriPride.