By TESA GLASS email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce gathered Friday to celebrate a year of new programs, awards and hard work.
"This is the time when we reflect on the past year, what we've done well and what we can improve on," Executive Director Brandon Bullard said. "The Chamber has grown into a community organization, not just a business organization. ... Without all of you, our membership, that would not be possible."
Bullard reported there were 49 new members this year, and thanked the Chamber Board.
"To have a great group of leaders behind me makes my job not only easy, but fun," Bullard said.
President Kay Damron, who will be turning over the leadership of the Chamber after the banquet, outlined the goals she set last year and updated the members on progress.
"What a year it has been," Damron said. "I'm so proud of the work the Chamber has accomplished and the work it continues to do for the membership."
Goals Damron outlined were to maximize promotional opportunities, workforce development, and fiscal stability. Damron said new programs, such as the revitalization of the Home Show, the Progressive Dinner, the Wine Trail outing, the management track, Trade Talks and partnering with the Elks for youth job shadowing have accomplished some of those goals.
"The third goal is fiscal stability," Damron said. "The new structure, and the time and work that went into reviewing, revising, updating policies and procedures of the Chamber have helped accomplish that goal."
Damron also applauded the work of the Past President's Council, naming the Keep Home Rule issue as one in which it championed.
Awards were presented, including Ambassador of the Year, to Taylee Turrentine; Students of the Year, to Collin Young and Courtney Kabat; Classroom Grant winners; Young Professional of the Year, Bria Ashby; Small Business Person of the Year, Dwayn Klein; Citizen of the Year, Richard Straeter; and the President's Award, to the late Ron Kruep.
The Leadership Academy was also recognized. The Academy goal is to develop participants to improve and acquire leadership expertise throughout the community by attending various sessions. The Academy was developed and the program organized by Bria Ashby with help from presenters Debi Richardson, Tom Upchurch, Mary Ellen Bechtel, David Keen and Brenda Alexander. Participants included Pat Dudley, Jon Baker, Shawn Weccele and Steve Offutt of Continental Tire the Americas; Ashley Sweetin and Cindy Phillips of Crossroads Community Hospital; Joe Bernard and Tom Duff of the United Methodist Children's Home; Duane Gulley of Old National Bank; and Susan Staples of Mt. Vernon City Schools District 80.
Damron retired from her position as Chamber president at the end of the evening, turning responsibilities over to Bob Feltmeier, who will serve the next term as the president of the Chamber of Commerce.