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Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce toasts businesses, residents
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In spite of a tough economic year in 2009, the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce found a reason to celebrate Thursday.

During its annual awards banquet — which had the appropriate theme of “Mission Possible” — the organization highlighted the numerous reasons it had to be proud of its accomplishments and those of its members.

“This is one of the best (financial) years that we’ve had on record. Just like many of you, we tightened our belts and looked for creative revenue sources and managed to finish the year in the black. And we increased our membership by 160 members,” said Gina Mitsdarffer, the chamber’s outgoing chairwoman.

“This was a tough year, but (the chamber and its members) found the silver lining and made it a ‘Mission Possible.’”

Mitsdarffer also passed the chair’s gavel to Sam McDuffie, who is the new chairman for 2010.

The banquet, which was attended by more than 200 chamber members and guests, was also an opportunity for the organization to hand out several awards. Among other things, the organization acknowledged Tanger Outlets as the large business of the year and Legacy Landscape Management as the small business of the year.

Additionally, the chamber awarded the William H. Booth Award to Elton Collins. The Booth honor is lifetime achievement award that is presented to the individual that “has demonstrated a lifetime of service to the community.”

Kathy Wilbanks received the Citizen of the Year award and Howard Ledford received the Volunteer of the year award.

“Our volunteer of the year is a person who goes above and beyond the call of duty,” said Shane Short, chamber president and CEO.

“We depend heavily on our volunteers to keep things running smoothly.”