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Chamber honors outstanding citizens

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce closed out another successful year and ushered in a new one under the theme of "Get on Board-Make a Difference" at its annual meeting and awards banquet Monday night. The event was staged in the ministry center of First United Methodist Church and was attended by approximately 300 members and guests.
Five individuals received special awards in recognition of exemplary service to the community and the chamber. Fifth District U.S. Representative Bud Creamer, D-Huntsville, was the keynote speaker.
In his farewell remarks, outgoing Board Chairman Doug Moss called attention to several accomplishments of the chamber in 2005. He mentioned the start-up of a newsletter aimed at improving communications between the board and staff and members, a new southbound billboard on I-65 and the implementation of a "Think Hartselle First" trade-at-home campaign.
Incoming Chairman Russell Woodruff said he will guide the chamber in the development and implementation of a strategic plan and called on members for their input. Copies of a questionnaire were made available and members were asked to fill them out and turn them in. Questions asked included the following: what are we doing that you like?; what should we be doing that we aren't doing?; what are we doing that you don't like.
Three annual chamber awards were presented. Kathy White Goodwin received the Thomas M. Guyton Humanitarian Award, David Burleson was presented the John J. Sparkman Citizenship Award and Plant Manager Randy Nelson received the E.R. Roberts Business and Civic Award on behalf of Copeland Corporation.
Goodwin, marketing director for Hartselle Medical Center, received her award from Bill Camp.
"She's a very deserving person who contributes greatly to the quality of live in Hartselle," Camp said.
Johnny Howell presented the Sparkman award to Burleson.
"We've known each other for 50 years," Howell said. "He's an outstanding citizen who can't say no when it comes to doing something to benefit the city."
Mayor Dwight Tankersley presented the Roberts Award to Copeland.
"We're blessed to have Copeland here," Tankersley said. "They're our largest industry with a workforce of over 1,000. They have always been a good corporate citizen and help our community to many ways."
Chamber Ambassador President Nancy Busby presented the "Ambassador of the Year" award to Melissa Henderson.
A special Chamber Award for Excellence in Business was presented to Alvin Abercrombie, who has owned and operated Abercrombie Chevrolet for the past 41 years.
Abercrombie, who is known by many of his customers and friends as "Mr. Ab," purchased the Chevrolet franchise in Hartselle from the late Bill Stewart in 1965. He operated the dealership on North Sparkman Street until he moved the business into larger and more modern facilities on Highway 31, North, in 1977. Previously he was a Chevrolet Dealer in Walker County for several years. In 2005, he was recognized by General Motors for a half-century of outstanding service.
Jeff Johnson, director of the Department of Development for the city, received a special Get-R-Done Award. He was cited for lending valuable assistance in the development of legislative agendas and other business and industry recruiting tools.
Awards were also presented to Scotty Maples and Mike Preuitt as outgoing directors.
Cramer spoke about the importance of regional networking in the pursuit of economic growth in North Alabama and the opportunities brought about by decisions related to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
He said district lines are not as important now as they were when to took office in 1991.
"We all are in the same economic boat," he pointed out. Now we think regionally. We want industry to come to out area and I welcome the opportunity to be a part of your industry recruiting team."
He thanked the chamber, elected officials and others for taking an active part in the BRAC decision-making process.
"After the final round of BRAC we're in good shape," he stated. "With the Missile Defense Command coming to Huntsville we're going to see the creation of 6,000 to 10,000 new jobs in the years ahead. This is good news for us."
He also hailed the coming of a new biotech center, which is being built in the Research Park in Huntsville.
"We need to look at our opportunities and be prepared for what is ahead," he pointed out. "As long as we work effectively together we can accomplish anything we want to."