BLOUNTSTOWN – The 65th Annual Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet was held Thursday, Feb. 23rd at the W.T. Neal Civic Center. The evening began with a reception featuring historic photos and newspaper clippings, followed by dinner and an awards presentation.
U.S. Representative Steve Southerland was the special guest for the evening, and helped start the program by presenting Calhoun County native and Tuskegee Airman, Cornelius Davis with a letter of appreciation. Rep. Southerland also presented Davis with the Chamber’s Pioneer Award for his service with the Airmen in World War II.
After an invocation given by Paul Smith, guests enjoyed a steak dinner prepared and served by Pork Barrel Barbecue. During dinner, images captured throughout the past year were shown in a slideshow on a photo wall created by Ben Hall.
Chamber Chair of the Board Johanna Plummer gave a summary of successes from the past year, citing economic development, membership enhancement, and eco- and nature-tourism projects. She also encouraged members to get involved and engaged in civic organizations to help keep our community strong and viable.
Plummer recognized board members rotating off the board this term as Joey Peacock, Harry Rogers, and Dan Yoder. She presented a special award to Yoder who served as secretary/treasurer for several years. New members beginning their board terms are Thomas Flowers, Cindy Reese, and Rev. Jim Jines.
Terri Waldron was presented with the Bobby Clark/Board Member of the Year award for her tireless efforts and commitment to the Chamber.
Doris Traylor with Keep Calhoun County Beautiful presented two Grow & Glow awards. The first went to Jeffrey Seay with the First Baptist Church’s House & Grounds Committee for their latest project. She also presented Sheriff David Tatum with an award for his innovative renovation of the “blue building” and its grounds.
Edwin Strawn, president of Blountstown Main Street, recognized Preble-Rish, Inc. with the Visionary Award for their generous donation of space to the Chamber of Commerce for the Preble-Rish Gallery. The partnership created the county’s first downtown art gallery, which hosts various local artists and events. Donald Stanley accepted the award on behalf of the company.
Blountstown Fire Chief Ben Hall presented the Volunteer of the Year award to his friend and hero, Kinard Volunteer Fire Department Chief Doyle Daniels. Daniels has served as chief of the department for more than 30 years. He has changed tires in the rain, wrapped pipes in the cold, and performed numerous other tasks far beyond his duties with the fire department. In an effort to raise money for the department, Daniels started the annual Kinard Halloween Carnival 25 years ago, and still oversees the event which has drawn crowds of more than 2,000 and sold cakes for up to $500.
The final award of the evening was Outstanding Citizen of the Year, and was presented to Frances Price. The annual award is given to someone who has worked, promoted, or volunteered with great effort for the citizens of Calhoun County to create a better quality of life. Over the years, Mrs. Price has given of her time, her energy, her heart, and certainly her biscuits. Her commitment to the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement extends beyond volunteer hours now and then. She’s donated prized family antiques to be part of the museum, carefully mended the old clothing donated, and sewn from scratch costumes needed for events. She has mastered the art of preparing the perfect cathead biscuit on the antique wood-burning stove at the Settlement, making more than 800 biscuits a day during Folk Life Days.
Years ago, when she heard there was a chance the Settlement may qualify for state grants, she became a grant writer and secured funds for the museum. Mrs. Price, or “Gran” as she’s commonly referred, has a huge family, but acts as mother, grandmother, and caregiver to countless members of our community. The event closed with a musical tribute to Mrs. Price by her daughters.
Generous sponsors for the 65th annual event were: Cadence Bank, Centennial Bank, David H. Melvin, Inc., FairPoint Communications, Opportunity Florida, Preble-Rish, Inc., West Florida Electric Cooperative, Blountstown Drugs, Calhoun Liberty Hospital, Oglesby Plants International Inc., and Rivertown Community Church.