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Recognizing those who stepped up

Those who stepped up to serve others were recognized Thursday evening during the annual Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony and reception at the Kirbo Regional Center.

Out-going Chamber Chairman Matt Palmer recapped the chamber’s year with a PowerPoint presentation, recounting highlights of the Chamber’s events and saying the most memorable event for him was the Business After Hours that was hosted by Miles Realty, marking Raymond Miles’ 50th anniversary in business.

Palmer said Miles was special because he was always supportive of the chamber—both financially and in terms of attending events.

While introducing Palmer’s successor, Ryan Phillips, as well as citing the likes of Miles and others who have since passed on, Palmer asked “Who’s going to fill those shoes? We can’t fill those shoes, but we can step up,” Palmer said.

And so on Thursday evening, those who had stepped up during 2010 were honored.

The Chamber of Commerce’s Community Service Award went to Karon Elwell, and the Ambassador of the Year went to Clayton Penhallegon.

The Woman of the Year, which is sponsored by the Pilot Club, was awarded to Charlotte Howard. The Man of the Year, which is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, was awarded to Billy Simmons.

Bainbridge College President Richard Carvajal awarded its top academic award to James C. Ulmer of Bainbridge, and its Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) to Diana Williams of Bainbridge.

Community service

Debbie McIntrye, last year’s winner of the Community Service Award, cited Elwell’s quiet, yet effective, years of volunteering for numerous organizations and in various roles.

For example, Elwell has been very active in the Pilot Club, Service Club, Cancer Society, Relay for Life and the Chamber of Commerce.

“Karon plays a key role each year in the chamber’s major fund-raiser by coordinating around 50 volunteers to sell fair tickets and armbands,” McIntrye said. “She also volunteers her time every night at the fair to train new volunteers, sell armbands, and then stays sometimes until midnight to ensure monies collected match armbands sold. Karon has also assisted with other chamber projects including River Town Days and the duck race.”

Elwell joined the Pilot Club in 1994, serving as its president, president-elect, treasurer, director and recording secretary.

She has been a member of the Service Club for more than 25 years, including serving as its president. Elwell has served as finance chairman for both the Cancer Society and Relay for Life for 10 to 12 years each.

Man, woman of year

Simmons, who has cerebral palsy, received a standing ovation while he walked down the steps of the stage after receiving his plaque.

Simmons, who has worked diligently at the Bainbridge Goodwill store since moving here in 2004, is commonly known for his friendliness, especially when meeting new people, his nomination letter stated.

Simmons is the president of the men’s club at St. Joseph Catholic Church and also serves on the church’s council. He organized fund-raisers involving the community that helped raise local awareness of St. Joseph.

Simmons is also a member of the Bainbridge Lions Club and actively participates in its annual efforts to sell mops and brooms. He is also the equipment manager for the Bainbridge High School football team.

The other Man of the Year nominee was former Bainbridge College President Tom Wilkerson.

Howard, who is a personnel assistant for the Decatur County Board of Education, has been involved in countless community service activities that include the following: Being an adviser for Bainbridge High School CATS for Youth, a board member of the Family Connections, the Humane Society, and One on One Mentoring; chair of Bainbridge High School Council, chair and instructor of Bainbridge-Decatur County Youth Leadership Steering Committee, chair of Career Technical Agricultural Education Committee, chair of Continuing Education Advisory Council, chair of Family Connections Interview Committee, member of Family Connections interview committee; member of Georgia Association of Educators, member of the NAACP, member of the Youth Development Strategy Team, Recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Rotary Club, volunteer at Friendship House and at Keep Decatur County Beautiful.

The other Woman of the Year nominees were Alecia Gordon and Sue Steiner.

College awards

Bainbridge College President Richard Carvajal presented the college’s two main awards.

James C. Ulmer of Bainbridge received the academic award for having a cumulative grade point average of 4.0. Ulmer has been a BC student since 2007. Ulmer, who was an employee at American Fabrics and Fibers until it closed, is working on an associate’s degree in electronics and has completed 69 hours of course work.

Williams was recognized as the college’s outstanding post secondary technical student. Williams, won the award out of 17 nominated, was judged on her leadership, academic excellence and oral communication skills.

Williams completed the business administration program and will graduate in May, Carvajal said.