The Union branch of a global retail giant; the Jonesville distribution center of nationwide chain of dollar stores; a county official and a fire chief were among the organizations and individuals honored at Thursday's 2011 Union County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet.
The banquet, which was held in Family Life Center of Tabernacle Baptist Church, featured a meal catered by Midway; a program of music by classical guitarist Michael Cash that included an original song honoring America's service men and women; and speeches by chamber and city and county officials.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of awards honoring the Friend of the Chamber, Shining Star, Industry of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Service Group of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and President's Choice recipient. The awards were presented by Chamber Executive Director Torance Inman and Chamber President Bryan Stone.
Friend of the Chamber 2011
Inman described the Friend of the Chamber as "that person or organization that has shown an intense interest in chamber, and has invested their time, energy and money into helping us succeed." Inman said this year's Friend of the Chamber "is usually the first to respond and sometimes come to our aid without the call even going out. They were quick to support the Fourth of July in the park, the library, the Union Rotary Club, the Salvation Army, the Union County Tractor Show and many others here in Union County. Not only are they a good community partner, they are a good friend of the chamber.
"This year's Friend of the Chamber is Wal-Mart of Union."
Shining Star 2011
Inman described the Shining Star as "someone who shines brightly among a host of stars over the course of the year." This year's Shining Star "has been a volunteer at the YMCA, Relay For Life, PTA and has served on several school improvement committees. In spite of Union being declared the most corrupt city in America by Rush Limbaugh, this year's Shining Star stepped forward and showed the world what Union is really all about. When this person fell into a situation where they could have taken some valuable items and possibly no one would every had known, they did the right thing and returned the items to their rightful owner. This is just one of the many examples that set this star apart.
"He is a Boy Scout leader and serves on the Stadium Commission and is the treasurer of the Union County Republican Party. He is a recipient of the Palmetto Patriot Award. As Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer stated, 'Honest to goodness, I can't think of anybody that exemplifies a public servant more than Freddie Gault.' This year's Shining Star."
(Gault if the Clerk of Court for Union County.)
Industry of the Year 2011
Inman said this year's Industry of the Year "exemplifies the highest level of concern and care for the future of Union County. It is not only deeply committed to its mission as an industry serving a large and growing region; it is equally committed to its employees and the community where they live. Their leadership is very active in community events and encourages its employees to do the same through events like Relay For Life and others. This industry has supported literacy efforts at Union County Adult Education and Family Resource Center through grants exceeding $40,000 in the past two years. They opened their doors to Union County Adult Education to set up a GED program for employees and spouses to improve the economic potential of the local community. In addition, they are a major corporate sponsor of the Reading Is Fundamental program that provides free books for students to build home libraries and start down the road to reading.
"Dollar General and specifically this year's Industry of the Year, Dollar General Distribution Center, Jonesville, are a true friend to Union County and we honor them for their commitment to education, literacy and the spirit of our community."
Small Business of the Year 2011
Inman said the Small Business of the Year "is awarded to a business that has created a strong positive employee relationship and seeks new levels of customer service. They provide excellent and unique levels of service to their customers through value added efficient services. The business is one that encourages others to act for the good of the community and is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce. This year's recipient is all this and more.
"This business, though relatively new in some respects, provides excellent customer service, not only in their front office but throughout Union County. This business is locally owned and operated and employs Union people. Although manned by a small staff, they do a great job in a big way. What began with a look back at the past, quickly became a reality much faster than anyone could have imagined. Literally starting in an empty room with very little equipment, which was for the most part borrowed, a business began and a dream came true, and in a very short two years this business has become a mainstay for all of Union County."
This year's Small Business of the Year, the Union County News.
Service Group of the Year 2011
Inman said Service Group of the Year recognizes "an individual or group that has promoted positive community growth and awareness while serving in a capacity that encourages others to act for the good of the community. This year's award goes to an individual who is a spark that works with a larger group who support one another in an effort to take a program that has been all but nonexistent in Union County and bring it back to life in a big way.
"The Service Group of the Year goes to Amy Austin, Foster Home Recruiter, Union County Department of Social Services. Through her recruiting efforts, the Annual Children's Art Day and the Child Abuse Awareness Event, she has been able to highlight the need for foster homes and increased the number of foster families from one to 25. Her dedication to the foster families has been evident in her work to form the Union County Foster Parent Association. This effort allowed South Carolina to be recognized as the first state to have a Foster Parent Association in every county."
Volunteer of the Year 2011
Inman said "tonight we honor a one of those exceptional individuals who is a great example of a true volunteer. There is something inside the hearts of volunteers that produces a desire to serve their fellow man and community. The volunteer will often put themselves in harm's way to serve and protect people and property. They will respond quickly, day or night, when the call goes out, and in some cases they are there even before the bell rings. They seem to have a sixth sense and are always there when you need them They are never off-duty and may show up at a car accident, an emergency at home, a crisis in a restaurant, and maybe in a white shirt and tie coordinating efforts to shot a fire at a turkey farm.
"This year's Volunteer of the Year is Mr. Mark Wade."
(Wade is the chief of the Santuc Volunteer Fire Department)
Citing the restaurant's efficiency and hospitality, Stone presented the President's Choice award to Bojangles.