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Chamber recognizes community-minded businesses and individuals

By David Hollaway
The Johnson County Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting and awards dinner on Friday. It was held at the Vistas restaurant located at Red Tail Golf Course in Mountain City with approximately 100 people in attendance.
The Chamber President Tom Reece opened the meeting. Reece asked the veterans and Johnson County officials that were present to stand and they were all honored with a round of applause.
The pastor of Mountain City First Baptist Church, Reverend Ricky Campbell, gave the invocation for the evening.
Karla Prudhomme, the Johnson County Leadership Director, and Johnson County Mayor Larry Potter presented awards to three individuals who were instrumental in securing the purchase of the Daniel’s Trace property on Doe Mountain. “Without any hesitation, they came forward with philanthropic hearts and provided the necessary down payment needed to secure this property,” stated Prudhomme. Dr. Donald and Carol Tarr and Mary Sturdivant were the donors.
Prudhomme announced the graduates of the 2012-2013 leadership class and presented each of them with a certificate of graduation. Georgia Crowell, Assistant Leadership Director, was honored with a round of applause. Prudhomme stated, “For those of you who do not know the commitment involved in the leadership program, leadership is a nine-month program where participants commit to spending one day a month in leadership training, as well as making a commitment to attending a weekend retreat with two days of classroom style learning facilitated by the fabulous Mr. Russell Robinson.” Russell Robinson, the Weekend Retreat Facilitator, was asked to stand for a round of applause.
The members of the 2012-2013 leadership class and their sponsors are as follows: Amanda Pierce (sponsored by Johnson County Bank), Jason Panganiban (sponsored by the Town of Mountain City), Celeste Dunn (sponsored by J.C. Chamber of Commerce), Tammie Fenner (sponsored by Johnson County Government), Timmy Dugger (sponsored by Farmers State Bank), Katie Sexton, Timmy Bellamy and Cheyenne Campbell, (JCHS students sponsored by “Operation Pocket Change”), Ryan Smith (JCHS student sponsored by “TACL Grant”) and Tyler Erikson (JCHS student sponsored by Grace Springs Farms).
After the certificates were awarded, Celeste Dunn came to the podium and gave a leadership presentation. The presentation included a slide show accenting some of the projects the team had been involved in this past year. “If you ever get the opportunity to be in the leadership program, I suggest that you participate because it is just incredible at the different things you will learn about little Johnson County. It amazes me, and like I said, I have been here all my life,” said Dunn.
Next on the agenda was the presentation of the Mac Wright Citizen of the Year award. Prudhomme mentioned several of the many things this year’s recipient does in helping other people. This individual has displayed many random acts of kindness including paying electric, water and heating oil bills when he hears of a citizen in dire need. He paid for car repairs for a single mother, an elderly person and a working high school student when they were unable to fund the repairs themselves. The Mac Wright Citizen of the Year award recipient this year was Dr. Donald Tarr.
Frank Arnold came forward to present the Business of the Year award. This business employs over 60 people in Mountain City alone and has been a long time supporter of the Chamber of Commerce. They also support the basketball, football, tennis and softball programs at local schools as well as presenting a $1,000 scholarship to a worthy student every year. They opened in Mountain City over 30 years ago. This business is a family run business that started in 1914 in a small rural area of southwest Virginia with their corporate office in Abingdon, Virginia. The recipient of this year’s Business of the Year award was Food Country USA. The manager of the Mountain City store is Mr. Vance Henderson.
Tom Reece came back to the podium to present this year’s Mary Nave Ahrends Volunteer of the Year award. This year the award goes to a group instead of an individual. They have an active membership of 14 members. Some of the projects they are involved in are fifth quarter dances following football games, food drives for the elderly, education awareness about texting and driving, helping tornado victims cleanup and other projects. The recipient of this year’s Volunteer of the Year award is the Students against Destructive Decisions (SADD0 Club.  
Reece thanked the Board of Directors and the Chamber members for their support and gave an overview of some of the activities planned for this year. In closing, John Coolahan was introduced as the as the new Chamber of Commerce President.  He, in turn, introduced the new officers and Board of Directors. Coolahn adjourned the meeting stating, “This Chamber is going to do well and you are going to be proud.”