Chamber honors outstanding citizens

By MARLAN JONES,

The 59th Mendenhall Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet was held on March 22 at the National Guard Armory in Mendenhall.

The silent auction began at 6:30 p.m. and included items such as decorative carvings and original paintings by Wade Stevens.

The program began at 7 p.m. as Mayor Todd Booth shared opening remarks. Rev. Rodney Anderson gave the invocation and Nina Grubbs led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and “God Bless America.” Dinner was served by the Future Leaders of Simpson County, and was catered by Smokey Mountain Grill.

After dinner the award presentation began. Bobbie Jo Warren Mendenhall’s Miss Hospitality  2017, and Nina Grubbs introduced Miss Hospitality for 2018, Lexi Cockrell. Grubbs said Miss Hospitality is tasked with promoting tourism, economic development, and businesses in Mendenhall and surrounding cities. Lexi is the daughter of Amanda Johnston. Grubbs also announced that the first Little Miss Hospitality will be her daughter, Genevieve Grubbs.

Grubbs said, “We appreciate the local support of the program. I hope that in some small way we have had a hand in developing the future female leadership of Simpson County.”

The STAR Student and Teacher of Mendenhall High School and Simpson Academy were also announced. STAR Student honor are awarded to the student in the school with the highest ACT score, and that student chooses his or her STAR Teacher.

Mendenhall High School Principal Robert Sanders introduced Noah Adams as STAR Student. He is the son of Tim and LaQuita Adams. Sanders said, “He has been consistent in maintaining a 4.0 GPA. He is always helping others and is a wonderful young man.” Adams made a 27 on his ACT.

Adams said he chose a great motivator, mentor, and achiever as his STAR Teacher,  Aaron Williams. Williams said, “As an educator we teach for these moments. It is always good when you can make a difference in a child’s life.”

Simpson Academy Counselor Jamie Rogers announced Simpson Academy’s STAR Student, Cameron Lea, who scored 28 on his ACT and chose Chris Murphy as his STAR Teacher. Murphy has been an educator for 25 years but is in his first year at SCA. He teaches math and is Lea’s calculus instructor. Murphy explained that he is proud to see the community supporting the schools and having ceremonies to celebrate academic achievements. He said, “This has been wonderful, and it’s all about seeing our young people grow.”

Judy Lee was called to present the Outstanding Citizen Award. She began by describing the recipient as being born and raised in Mendenhall. She said, “You can always find her on Main Street. She is a genuine listener, and one of the most caring and genuine people you will ever meet.” Lee said the recipient loves her family, church, and community. She described her as a steady figure in Mendenhall before announcing Christy Rotenberry as the winner of the Outstanding Citizen Award. 

Rotenberry said, “I have always loved Mendenhall. Please continue to support Mendenhall and shop local, we need you.”

The final award presented was Business of the Year, which Jennifer Walker presented to Madison Magee, owner of Darling and Distressed. Walker said, “She is very hard working. Her business has been a God send not only to women but to men all through the county looking for the perfect gift.” Magee was genuinely shocked to receive the award. She said, “I don’t do well with speeches, but this means a lot to me.  Thank you all.”

A surprise award was given this year to Marsha Bratcher to thank her for her service. Bratcher has been secretary and treasurer of the Mendenhall Chamber of Commerce for the last 12 years.

Booth introduced the new president of the Chamber of Commerce, Leann Emrich. Before adjourning the meeting Emrich said, “I am happy to do this again, and I’m excited for a new year