The 71st Annual Benson Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet was one for the record books. Broadslab Distillery’s “The Barn” venue was packed Thursday evening with Town staff, Chamber representatives, elected officials, area business owners, and Benson residents.
The Banquet is an annual tradition, held to celebrate the year’s accomplishments and to signify the changing of the acting Chamber Board Chairman. Last year’s Chair — Mary Michael Britt — chose a very fitting western theme. The Barn was decorated with boots, rope, and paintings of buffalo and rodeos. Classic country music soundtracked the social hour.
Following a welcome from Mrs. Britt, Mayor Jerry Medlin addressed the crowd with an update on the Town of Benson and a video showcasing the town’s content on social media in 2019.
Benson Chamber President/CEO Loretta Byrd presented Mrs. Britt with a scrapbook full of memories from her year with the Chamber (another tradition) and the outgoing Chamber officers were also recognized.
Benson Parks and Recreation Director Matt Smith was this year’s MC — announcing the Civic Organization Awards and the Chamber Awards.
As each award was announced, a slideshow and “Hollywood-style” music accompanied each recipient as they made their way to the front of the room. Applause filled the room for each winner — many were taken aback with the honor, some were emotional, but all were grateful to be recognized.
The night’s awards:
- Outstanding Woman – Carol Morgan Beasley
- Outstanding Senior Citizen – Raymond Jones
- Outstanding Youth – Ava Grace Jernigan
- Firefighter of the Year – Jesse Fife
- Law Enforcement Officer of the Year – Erin Sinclair
- Arts Award – Hannah Jernigan
- Volunteer Award – Beth Rogers
- Educator of the Year – Beth Hockaday
- Public Service Employee of the Year – Tyler Douglas
- Humanitarian Award – Jeanelle McCain
- Chamber Ambassador of the Year – Jaymes Elliott
- Board of Directors Award – Dr. Matt Frazier and Mary Michael Britt
- Business Family of the Year – The Maynard Barnes Family
- Large Business of the Year – Johnston Health
- Small Business of the Year – William Neighbors
- Citizen of the Year – Sylvia Herring
Justin Powell, the 2020 Chamber Board Chairman, closed the ceremony with a few remarks — expressing excitement for his new role and looking forward to the future of Benson and its continued growth.
Photos courtesy Ken Tart Photography