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Chamber touts big year, hands out awards at annual gala
Visitors to the Chattahoochee Country gather on the lawn during Thursday evening's reception of the 109th annual Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Gala & Meeting.

Chamber award winners

Distinguished Citizen Award: Carol Burrell

W.G. Mealor Award: Brian Rochester

Small Business of the Year: Forum Communications and Liberty Candy Co.

Family Business of the Year: Harrison Oil & Tire Company and Truelove Dairy

Community Service Award: Brenau University

Business leaders had much to crow about — more jobs, more development and more dollars pumping into the local economy.

But Perry Barnett, incoming chairman of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, applied the brakes.

“As we look forward at all these positive attributes, we may think we do not need to do anything else,” he said Thursday night, speaking at the 109th Annual Meeting & Gala. “However, this is not the time to take our eye off the ball.

“We have many opportunities available. We cannot stand still. In fact, in business, there’s no such thing as standing still. We are either moving forward or moving backward.”

Still, outgoing chairman Lee Hemmer talked about the area’s growth spurts, including $53 million in planned developments around the Gainesville square, ongoing construction of the new Lanier Technical College campus off Ga. 365 at Howard Road and preservation of the historic Healan’s Mill in East Hall.

“I thank all of you for what you do to keep our community and county on the right path to the quality growth we seek while preserving the lifestyle we know,” Hemmer said.

The annual meeting was more than just a recap of economic development efforts in the county.

Drawing 485 people to the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville, it also served as a social event and dinner, as well as a time to honor volunteers and others in the community.

The Distinguished Citizen Award was presented to Carol Burrell, president and CEO of the Gainesville-based Northeast Georgia Health System.

“I’m glad to represent the organization,” Burrell told the audience. “I feel it very much a blessing, honor and privilege, and I thank all of you because all of you contribute to the health care we provide in this community, as well.”

The W.G. Mealor Award, which recognizes a volunteer who goes beyond the call of duty and is named after the chamber’s first chairman, went to Brian Rochester, executive vice president of Rochester & Associates, a Gainesville civil engineering firm.

“We live in an amazing community, an amazing place to do business and an amazing place to raise a family,” he said.

The Small Business of the Year award was presented to Forum Communications in Gainesville and Liberty Candy Co. in Flowery Branch. Family Business of the Year awards were presented to Harrison Oil & Tire Company in Gainesville and Truelove Dairy in Clermont.

And Ed Schrader, president of Brenau University, accepted the Community Service Award on behalf of the Gainesville school.

Also, the Silver Shovel award, going to top volunteers of the year, went to State Court Judge John Breakfield; Georgia Department of Transportation District Engineer Brent Cook; Brett Fowler of Turner, Wood & Smith Insurance; Andy Kalinauskas, Conditioned Air Systems; Caroline Lewallen, Jaemor Farms; Sarita Madera, Homestar Financial Corp.; Stacey Poole, McDonald’s; Rope Roberts, Georgia Power Co.; John Simpson, Lakeview Academy; Greg Vitek, IMS Gear; Lila Westmoreland, Brenau University; Madeline Wirt and David Dickerson, Whelchel, Dunlap, Jarrard & Walker; Darryl Workman, BrandBank; and Louise Dufour-Zavala, Georgia Poultry Lab Network.


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