ICYMI: Collins awarded Hall County Chamber’s Distinguished Citizen Award
The Gainesville Times: Chamber reflects on 111 years of greatness and honors volunteers at annual gala
This article was published in the Gainesville Times on May 17, 2019 and can be viewed on their website here.
Carol Burrell’s mantra of striving “to make a better tomorrow” resonated throughout the room of over 500.
Business owners, volunteers and local leaders received their due recognition at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s 111th Annual Meeting & Gala on Thursday, May 16 at the Chattahoochee Country Club.
The crowd gave a standing ovation as U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, walked to the podium to receive the Distinguished Citizen Award.
“You in this room represent the greatest gift I’ve ever been given, which is to represent you in Washington D.C.,” Collins said. “Right now is not an easy time, but the good thing I have is to carry the values that you have in this room up there each and every week.”
Burrell, who bestowed the award, described Collins as a preacher, lawyer, soldier and politician who manages to wear his many hats well.
“Doug’s staff says his favorite quote is, ‘Bloom where you are planted,’” Burrell said. “Doug, we’re glad you’re planted in D.C. and blooming on behalf of your community.”
Andi Farmer received the W.G. Mealor Chairman’s Award, which is given from the present board chair to a volunteer who has gone above and beyond the call of duty for the Chamber and the community.
Although Farmer didn’t grow up in Hall County, Burrell said she quickly made her mark in the community once she arrived.
“A mentor, a problem solver and a selfless servant, she truly exemplifies this award,” Burrell said. “In addition, she juggles her brother's life, who we all know as our great State Senator Butch Miller. They share a bond like no other and scary resemblance in both laughter and light.”
The Community Service Award went to Lanier Technical College and its president, Ray Perren.
Perren thanked those in the room who have partnered with the college and embraced its mission for workforce development.
“There is no community in this state that gets it the way that Gainesville-Hall County does in terms of enforcing a technical education and building a strong economy,” he said.
Brian Rochester presented the Family Business of the Year to Riverside Pharmacy and WDUN, and the Small Business of the Year to M&R Equipment Rental & Sales and BGW Dental Group.
The Chamber also honored 17 Silver Shovel recipients, all of whom have volunteered and remain involved in the organization.
Summing up Hall County’s accomplishments of the year, Burrell reflected on the area’s success in quality of life, economic development, infrastructure and workforce development.
“Access to world-class health care continues to play a growing role in our quality of life in Hall County and the region, while having a significant economic impact for Hall County” she said. “In the next month, 26 new doctors will move to Gainesville-Hall County for their residencies.”
She also took note of the new and existing industries that plan to add 1,200 new jobs and $310 million in capital investment.
Customary of every gala, the current chair named a new leader for the Chamber. Burrell, CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System, passed the gavel to Rochester as the new chair.
Rochester said he has a couple of priorities as chair, and they revolve around “reinvesting in the community.”
However, his top focus involves honoring Jesus.
“That is my main goal each and every day and I promise you we’ll have some fun along the way, but I’ll never lose sight of that. Thank you so much, and I look forward to working with you this year.”
Chamber award winners
Distinguished Citizen Award: U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville
W.G. Mealor Chairman’s Award: Andi Farmer
Community Service Award: Lanier Technical College — Ray Perren
Small Business of the Year: M&R Equipment Rental & Sales and BGW Dental Group
Family Business of the Year: Riverside Pharmacy and WDUN
Silver Shovel Awards
Glennis Barnes of Georgia Power
Tracy Moon of Fisher & Phillips
Sharon Barrett of South State Bank
Tate O’Rouke of Jackson EMC
Chris Braswell of The Norton Agency
Lauran Pugh of Lanier Technical College
Whitney Brown of Stewart, Melvin & Frost
Steve Rawl of Suntrust Bank
Namon Collins of Allstate Insurance
Rhonda Samples of Hall County School System
Suzanne Erickson of Brenau University
Margaret Spratlin of Longstreet Clinic
Tracy Hoeltke of Netchex
Trish Stump and Larry Becker of Montara Farm
Mark Lane of Hall County
Mark Winters of Georgia Department of Labor