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Chamber names award recipients

The Johnson County Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards dinner at the Crewette building in Mountain City Friday evening. A meal was prepared by the Levi retirees for a crowd that included County Mayor Larry Potter, City Mayor Lawrence Keeble, and Sheriff Mike Reece, as well as members of the county commission and the chamber of commerce board.
The awards ceremony kicked off with an introduction by NECC Warden and chamber president David Sexton. Ms. Perry Ann Stanley followed with a presentation of this year’s leadership program participants. The leadership program was initiated by the chamber 12 years ago as a part of the governor’s 3-Star Award program. 3-Star certification is beneficial to the city and county when applying for state grants and as a part of its requirements a leadership class must be held each year. During the class participants learn about the county’s history, visit important institutions in the county, and develop an economic project.
Each participant is sponsored by a business or organization and there were seven enrolled in the class this year. The participants and their sponsors were Mark Lundy sponsored by the Town of Mountain City, Jerry Stanley by the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, Adrian Holman by Farmers State Bank, Dustin Shearin by the government of Johnson County, Donna Manueal by Johnson County Bank, and two Johnson County High School students, Chelsea Fenner and Elizabeth Dugger who were sponsored by Mountain Electric’s Operation Pocket Change.
Each participant was given a certificate of recognition and came forward to speak about what they had gained from the program. Many cited how amazed they were how much they didn’t know about the county they had spent the majority of their lives living in.
Following Stanley was Mountain City Postmaster Frank Arnold who presented the Business of the Year Award. Mike Blevins, owner of Mike’s Barbecue accepted the award for his restaurant, citing the hard work of his employees whom he referred to as his co-workers and the dedication of his customer base. Arnold in his introduction detailed how Blevins first got into the restaurant business in his teens and has continuously worked to improve his famous barbeque recipe, with four barbeque pits currently operating and plans for a fifth.
Karla Prudhomme, the Johnson County Economic Development and Tourism Coordinator, presented the award for New Business of the Year, which went to Lita Huggins and her Tributary Restaurant. Speaking about the recent move to Main Street in downtown Mountain City, Huggins stated, “It was the best move I ever made.”  Huggins went on to say that she was proud to be a part of the revitalization of downtown and encouraged other entrepreneurs to look at the area as a possibility.
The Citizen of the Year award was presented by Johnson County Bank President John Muse. Lois Ann Adams was the recipient of the award and was commended for the dedication and support that she has steadfastly shown to her neighbors and friends even in the toughest of times. She is known for her strong faith and was shocked when the award was announced, giving thanks to God and the many good people in her life.
The Mary Ahrend Volunteer of the Year award was next and was presented to Gwen Bell for her hard work to provide heating assistance for those in need in Johnson County. Bell accepted the award stating that it “really belongs to the people of Johnson County.”  A special recognition award was also presented to long time Johnson County High School Coach Harold Arnold for his many years of dedicated service in the county.
The last presentation of the evening was conducted by President David Sexton who asked County Mayor Larry Potter to come forward and accept a plaque commemorating the volunteer efforts around the county following the devastating tornado that touched down on April 27th. Sexton asked that the plaque be placed in the courthouse as a memorial to the tragic event.
Sexton also announced the installation of a new chamber president as he passed the torch on to Tom Reece. Sexton will still remain as a member of the chamber board and Reece is looking forward to working with the board’s various members over the coming year.
With the tough economic climate of the past few years development and recognition of the county’s current resources is very important and the efforts of organizations such as the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce is invaluable. Yet none of it could even be possible if not for the determination and hard work of the various businesses that make up the economy of Johnson County.