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Chamber honors members at gala
Melissa Tymchuk was given the W.G. Mealor Chairman’s Award for her work for the chamber. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

2012 Greater Hall Chamber of  Commerce  award winners

Silver Shovel Award
— Chad Bolton, Northeast Georgia Health System
— Andi Farmer, Milton Martin Honda
— Bill Kokaly, Cox Communications & Electronics
— Doug Langman, TRC Staffing
— Guerry Norwood, Regions Bank
— Greg Ours, Poly Enterprises
— Richard Riley, Community Volunteer
— Roseanne Short, Brenau University
— Jessica Tullar, City of Gainesville
— Erin Williamson, The Longstreet Clinic
— Emily Whitehead, Milton Martin Toyota
— Srikanth Yamala, Gainesville-Hall County MPO

Small Business of the Year
Highland Mountain Beverage Service, Lane Jones

Family Business of the Year
J&J Foods, Darrell Wiley

W.G. Mealor Chairman’s Award
Melissa Tymchuk

Distinguished Citizen of the Year
Virgil Williams

It was a “perfect Chamber of Commerce evening” Thursday night at the Chattahoochee Country Club.

Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s 104th Annual Meeting and Gala.

For years, the gala has provided an opportunity to recognize the volunteers who have worked hard to help Gainesville and Hall County thrive.

President and CEO of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Kit Dunlap said she couldn’t have asked for a better evening.

“We’ve changed some things throughout the years, but it’s just a way to thank our volunteers and for celebrating the good things about Hall County,” Dunlap said.

Dunlap offered her sincere thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to the chamber. Twelve of those volunteers were honored with the Silver Shovel Award.

One volunteer who has gone “beyond the call of duty” for the chamber was given the W.G. Mealor Chairman’s Award, named after the chamber’s first chairman and president who served from 1908-1917.

Melissa Tymchuk was surprised to be honored for the hours she offered her expertise in public relations to the chamber. She led the development of the chamber’s website, updated the design of the VISION 2030 website and created a membership survey for chamber members to offer their suggestions. She also played a vital role in the 5th Annual Chamber Chase and headed a successful chamber membership campaign in 2010.

She said she is thankful for the opportunity to volunteer with the chamber.

“I feel like I’m just reporting on the things that the great chamber staff is doing. I couldn’t do anything without their support. They are really the backbone,” Tymchuk said.

Chamber officials handed out awards to area businesses.

The Small Business of the Year Award went to Highland Mountain Beverage Service founder Lane Jones. Jones has been involved with the chamber since 1981 and offers his expertise in its small business program. He has also been involved with the March of Dimes Walk for Babies and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life for many years.

Jones said he was proud to accept the award and to be a chamber member.

“This is just a great community, and it’s an honor to be a part of this community as far as a business goes,” Jones said.

The Family Business of the Year Award went to J&J Foods.

Since J&J Foods first opened in 1976, the Wiley family has been involved with many community efforts.

J&J Foods founder Johnnie Wiley died in January but was honored for the legacy he left with his family business.

Wiley’s son, Darrell Wiley, said he was thankful to accept the honor for his family.

“I will continue to do my best to honor the legacy of my father. I owe our business to him, the lifestyle that we live, the opportunities that we have and the blessings that we have. We’re so grateful for the business that he started and the business that we continue to operate,” Wiley said.

Philip Wilheit, president of Wilheit Packaging, presented the final award to the chamber’s Distinguished Citizen, Virgil Williams. Williams owns Williams Group International and in 2005 purchased Lake Lanier Islands Resorts. He and his family invested some $70 million into improvements for the island during the recession and while Lake Lanier had historically low water levels.

“Only a visionary and innovative person, as Virgil Williams, can make this treasure in Hall County and Georgia, Lake Lanier Islands Resort, a great success for Hall Countians and all Georgians,” Wilheit said.

Williams said he has done everything he has because he loves Hall County and Lake Lanier.

“This was an opportunity that we’re taking to do something for Hall County and for our state,” Williams said.


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