The meeting began with opening remarks by President Gwynita Steele who has served the Chamber’s Board of Directors in that capacity for the past two years. She will be succeeded by newly elected president, Ed Rogers.
Prior to leaving the podium, Steele explained the purpose of the night and stated, “Each year the chamber takes the opportunity to celebrate success and show members how valued they are to the community.”
While making eye contact with Chamber members and other business owners Steele said, “My hope is that the Chamber is to be of value to your business.” She also explained that Chamber will remain dedicated to serving small business owners, who make up the majority of the organizations that benefit from the organization.
Executive Director Cabot Hamilton then provided the Director’s Report for 2009, which he believed shows “how active and engaged the Chamber Board of Director’s have been in the past year.” Despite the effects of the national recession, Hamilton explained that he was happy to report that membership dues for members did not increase in 2010.
Following a freshly prepared meal of chicken, salmon, and a variety of steamed vegetables, Bob Washburn took to the podium for the moment that all attendees had been waiting for; the distribution of the four Beautification Awards. This year’s Commercial Award was a shared honor as CRG Properties, which owns the building that is leased to Shatley Springs Jewelry and Uptown Gifts, was honored as a recipient of the award. Carlos and Rebecca Garcia were responsible for the store’s renovations that created a larger retail space.
The co-winner of the award went to Stephen and Lisa Willingham of The Artists’ Theatre. That location is located in the old Parkway Theatre building and captures some of the mystique of that era by incorporating local history into the gallery’s theme. The Outdoors Award was presented to Old Orchard Creek Farms, which was described by Washburn as a “unique piece of property” and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also protected by a conservation easement with the Blue Ridge Conservancy and as Washburn explained, “serves as an example of a commitment to the preservation of our unique heritage.” Although the orchard’s owners were not present, close friend Millie Barbee accepted the award on their behalf. Hamilton described the winner of this year’s community award as being a “slam dunk” as the Ashe County Public Library was recognized as this year’s recipient. The library recently completed a $4 million renovation project that provided additional library space and increased capacity and capability, explained Washburn.
“Its design created a warm and attractive environment in which to handle library business,” Washburn said. “The library is a building that connects to everyone in Ashe County and for which all citizens of Ashe County can be proud.”
County Librarian Jim McQueen, library personnel, and county commissioners received the award on the library’s behalf.
Following the Nomination Committee Report by Rodgers, Board Member Kelley St. Germain provided fellow members with an update on the newly redesigned Chamber Web site, which he described as being “still a work of progress” that was completed with the vision of potential visitors and current members in mind. He explained that the Web site may never be completed because he is always open to suggestions and wants it to “make something we can all be proud of.”
To visit the Chamber Web site, please click to www.ashechamber.com