The Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce celebrated the organization’s annual banquet and awards dinner Thursday night at Capitol Theatre.
The event honored the area’s business and community leaders.
The event also marked a major 90-year milestone for the chamber. Previous chairmen of the board from over the years, dating back to the 1960s, were honored during a ceremony that outlined the chamber’s thriving and rich history. A 90th birthday cake was also presented to outgoing Chairman of the Board Rick Smith and 2014 Chairman of the Board John Bryan to blow the candles out and kick off the celebration.
County movers and shakers packed out the theatre, mixing and mingling early on before sitting down to a meal that led into the evening’s awards highlighting people and businesses that helped moved business forward and make a difference this year in the county.
Award winners for the evening were chosen by a committee that divided nominees according to divisions and then recommended the top business people to the chamber’s board of directors, who voted for the winners.
Businesses as well as individuals were honored at the event.
First, four categories of Cedar Tree Awards were presented, which were established in 1983 by the Beautification Committee of the chamber to encourage and recognize property owners or leaseholders who excel in preserving or improving the physical environment of Wilson County.
The best new professional or commercial building completed this year: Wilson County Chevrolet Buick GMC.
The best structure converted to a new use/conversion/adaptive use completed this year: Custom Packaging, Inc.
The best improvement of land usage to enhance the areas aesthetic or quality of life completed this year: Cedarstone Bank.
The best restoration of preservation of a historical site: The Capitol Theatre.
Honored with special awards were:
Industrialist of the Year: Mike and Richard Moscardelli
Business Person of the Year: Mike Manous
Retailer of the Year: Carlton Beall, Chick-fil-A
Ambassador of the Year: Derek Truelove
Tapped by Tourism Award: Gwen Scott
Public Servant of the Year: Mac McCluskey
Lebanon Wilson County Sports Council Award: Lebanon Youth Baseball
Friend of Education Award: Mel Brown
Corporate Friend of Education Award: Bay’s Bread
Distinguished Alumni Award: Randall Hutto
Volunteer of the Year Award: Andrew and Beverly Valentine
Lifetime Member Award: Jack Lowery
Plaques were also presented to board of directors Mike Bolen, Maggie Lea, Alan Ricketts, Harvill Eaton and Cathy Rhodes, whose terms ended in 2013.
Following the award presentations former chairman of the board Don Simpson installed the new board of directors for the year.
“From the looks of people elected, I know the chamber is in good hands for at least another year,” Simpson said.
Bryan then spoke on his visions and goals for the chamber in the coming year, which included increasing and maintaining membership to at least 1,000 members, upgrading and redesigning the chamber website and inviting every member to participate in at least one event this year.
“You’ve got to give a little to get a little,” Bryan said. “There’s always something you can get involved in.”
Bryan also said that this year he was given the daunting task of finding a new chamber president to replace current president Sue Vanatta.
“This chamber is 90 years old, and 22 of those years were served by Sue,” Bryan said. “She really set the bar high for us. She inherited about 275 members, and she took us from 275 to almost 1,000 and gotten us to a level that’s been unbelievable.”
Overall, Bryan said he hoped to encourage everyone to work together and better
the community in the coming year.
“We’ve got to check our egos at the door and be willing to promote the betteringof Wilson County,” Bryan said. “It’s not me; it’s we, and together the sky is the limit.”