Chamber banquet is time to recognize those who make our town great

Published 11:13 am Friday, January 20, 2012

For the past 86 years, the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce has gathered once a year to celebrate accomplishments, say thanks to outgoing officers and say hello to incoming officers.

Next Thursday night, the 87th Annual Chamber Awards Banquet will be held at the Kirbo Center on the campus of Bainbridge College. The deadline for ticket sales was yesterday, but I bet if you call Nadine Thomas at the chamber office, she could probably find a way to sell you a ticket. But, don’t wait too long if you don’t already have a ticket.

In addition to reviewing the past year of chamber activities and celebrate the successes, many outstanding community members will be recognized with various awards.

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I will have the honor of awarding, on behalf of the staff of The Post-Searchlight, the 2011 Montford-Lynn Peace Officer of the Year award to a very deserving recipient next Thursday night during the banquet.

The Woman of the Year award will be presented by the Pilot Club to either Marjorie Mayfield or Sally Miller. The Man of the Year award, sponsored by the Bainbridge Kiwanis Club, will be awarded to either Matt Palmer or Dewey Robinson.

An addition this year will be that the Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year award winner will be announced during the banquet. In years past, this award was announced during the annual membership mingle every October, but this event seems very well-suited to announce such a prestigious award.

The chamber will also name the 2011 Ambassador of the Year, the 2011 Community Spirit Award, and the 2011 Pioneer Award.

Dr. Richard Carvajal, president of Bainbridge College, will be on hand to recognize the college’s best and brightest by presenting several academic awards.

I have been involved in several community chamber of commerces in three different states and this chamber, your chamber, is by far the most involved, most in-tune, hardest working chamber I have had the pleasure of experiencing.

The chamber’s staff — Diane Strickland, president, Kim Walden, membership and communications director and Nadine Thomas, administrative assistant — do a great job of serving the more than 300 members of the chamber. They do their job with one goal in mind — to serve members.

Ryan Phillips served as chairman of the chamber’s board the past year and did a wonderful job. Along with the numerous committees and volunteers, the chamber had as many ribbon cuttings as I have ever seen, hosted a very successful River Town Days and a record-breaking fair, arranged several business after-hours events, and generally served its members.

Charles Tyson will award Ryan the Chairman’s Plaque and, in turn, Ryan will pass the gavel to Charles, the incoming chairman. Now, if you have ever seen Charles Tyson in front of a crowd, you know every penny of the $25 ticket price will be well spent as Charles accepts the gavel and starts off the 2012 chamber year.

We are fortunate that 87 years ago, the community and chamber leaders decided that is was a good idea to gather for this occasion. If you have a chance, come join us Thursday night at the Kirbo Center for good food, fellowship, and these well-deserved recognitions.

Jeff Findley is the publisher of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at