By ANNA BROWN
and GRAHAM WILLIAMS
Two Sisters Florals and More was named the “Small Business of the Year” Tuesday night during the Union County Chamber of Commerce Annual Member Banquet.
Chamber director Torance Inman said the store, owned by sisters Betty Sanders and Margie Hyatt, seems to have become an overnight success.
“We all know there is really no such thing as an overnight success; it takes time and hard work,” he said. “This business, though only a few years old, has the appearance of both an overnight success and a mature long-standing pillar business. It is as if they have been there forever. They have quickly established their own lasting identity and everyone knows who they are and where they are. When first starting up, they became a part of the Chamber and have assisted us each and every time we have called on them.”
Inman pointed out that the business had assisted with decorating for the banquet.
“Their presence is seen all around this room tonight,” he said.
The Union County Carnegie Library, which earlier this year was named Best Small Library in America, was named the “Service Group of the Year.”
Inman said that the library was the first Carnegie Free Library in South Carolina and over the years the library has grown and changed with the times, refusing to be left behind.
“Few if any organizations in Union County serve a more diverse group of customers,” he said. “All people, regardless of race, age, religion, profession or whether they work or not, whether they live here or somewhere else are served by the group.”
The library can be quiet or loud, exciting or somber, you can go to it or it can come to you via the bookmobile.
“There are bright young eyes exploring and learning as they are led by a professional staff,’ he said. “And there are older, more mature eyes that are just as bright continuing to learn new things in today’s world.”
Michelle Kelly was recognized as “Volunteer of the Year” for her work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“Recently, Union was in danger of losing an organization that has been here for many, many years,” Inman said. “I was part of this group when I was in high school in the late 1960s. Many of you were contacted by (Mrs. Kelly) who, with the help of a volunteer group, and most of all, their family and friends, who put together a gathering where a significant amount of funds were raised in an effort to save this organization in Union. A large number of you were there, and as a result, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes will continue in Union County. Thanks to our volunteer of the year, Michelle Kelly, her family and those who made the event possible, FCA will be here for years to come.”
Southside Fire Department was recognized with the “Friend of the Chamber” award.
“It is a group of individuals who work together to provide a service to the community that most would not venture into,” Inman said. “They provide a service that requires specialized training and conditioning. They provide a service that is available around the clock, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Often they are called upon at the most inopportune time and they simply put aside whatever they are doing and offer their expert service. Not once have they ever told the Chamber ‘no.’ For the last 13 years they have dodged cars and trucks, floats and boats, horses and dogs and reindeer making sure the Union Christmas parade comes off without a hitch.”
The Shining Star Award was presented to Ola Jean Kelly and the Union County Museum. Inman said Shining Stars are people or groups of people going about their daily lives and jobs making Union a beautiful place.
“And from time to time as we survey the many stars, one will seemingly be brighter than the others at that moment,” he said. “This is a star that has been seen by many. It has drawn people from the city, the county, the state and the nation, and from around the world.”
Timken Industrial Services was recognized as “Industry of the Year.”
“Timken, year in and year out comes to the forefront, not only in providing community support but in their continued industrial advancement” Inman said. “Their expansion into Timken Industrial Services in the spec building in a short time was nothing less than phenomenal. The team out there is to be commended. They are a huge asset to Timken’s presence. They are very deserving.”
Outgoing Chamber president Dr. Hugh Rowland presented the “President’s Choice” award to Wallace Thomson Hospital.
Rowland said when he moved to town to become dean at USC-Union, he noticed two organizations that he thought were the foundation of the community in terms of creating partnerships for improving Union — the hospital and The Union Daily Times.
“Last year I chose The Union Daily Times and this year I am choosing the second organization that I recognized,” he said. “One of the biggest honors the president of the chamber board has each year it to name the president’s choice award.”
Union native and WSPA-TV personality Jack Roper made a humorous yet motivational presentation about positive thinking, using members of the audience.
“The life we live is 10 percent what what happens to you and 90 percent of how you react to it,” he said.
Incoming Chamber president Bryan Stone, Lockhart Power Co. CEO, talked about the organization’s “Buy Union First” theme. He said if everyone in Union County spent $1,000 inside the county this year instead of outside, it would result in a $27 million impact.
“Our fate is in our hands,” he said.