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Chamber gala honors community leaders, dabbles in politics
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Gov. Nathan Deal addresses a crowded banquet hall Thursday evening at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s 106th annual meeting and gala at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Award winners

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce also handed out these annual awards:

Community Service Award: Medical Association Of Georgia Foundation’s “Think About It” Campaign

Distinguished Citizen Award: Philip Wilheit

Family Business of the Year: McGarity’s Business Products

Small Business of the Year: Cotton Eyed Joe’s

Silver Shovel Award (volunteer recognition): Randall Frost, Brent Hoffman, Dale Jaeger, Lane Jones, Randy Knighton, Jody Lail, Malissa Lawrence, Bill Lightfoot, Steve Naughton, Kip Padgett, Tony Paramore, Carl Romberg, Bill Sanders and Todd Young

W.G. Mealor Award (volunteer who goes beyond call of duty): Deborah Mack

Politicians mingled, commmunity leaders dined and awards were distributed Thursday night at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s 106th annual Meeting & Gala.

The formal event, held at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville, drew some 500 people, including Gov. Nathan Deal and first lady Sandra Deal.

“We are proud of the work of our chamber,” Chairwoman Dixie Truelove told the crowd. “We successfully accomplished our mission, creating new jobs, from large and small businesses and new and existing businesses, and providing education and leadership opportunities for our members.”

Deal served as the featured speaker, talking about accomplishments during his term and encouraging the audience to vote in Tuesday’s primary.

“Be sure to encourage your friends and those you work with (to vote),” he said.

“Remind them ... because it is an important election. The direction of our state and, to some extent, the direction of our nation, will hinge in the balance of the elections that take place in our state, beginning next Tuesday.”

Deal’s opponents in the Republican primary are Dalton Mayor David Pennington III and State School Superintendent John Barge. The winner faces the sole Democrat, state Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, in the Nov. 4 general election.

One of the gala’s highlights was its annual awards program, which recognized top businesses, volunteers and community servants.

The Distinguished Citizen Award was presented to Philip Wilheit, president of Wilheit Packaging in Gainesville. He is active in state and local organizations, including chairman of the state Board of Regents.

Wilheit likewise praised the chamber, saying “we have the best team going.”

“When you look at the assets that we’ve got (in Hall County), it’s an easy sell to get people to come locate here,” he said.

The event also featured a “passing of the gavel” to the next chamber chairman, David Lee, and a recognition of the Leadership Hall County Class of 2014-15.

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