2012-02-23 / Front Page

Community honors area’s best at W-W Chamber annual dinner


STAR Student Joel Fair speaks at last week’s Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce annual banquet. STAR Student Joel Fair speaks at last week’s Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce annual banquet. The Washington-Wilkes community came together to honor the county’s top student, teacher, businesses, and citizens last Thursday night at the Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and STAR Student and Teacher Banquet.

The chamber members recognized Washington-Wilkes Comprehensive High School STAR Student Joel Fair, who earned that honor by having the highest SAT score in the school, along with being in the top 10 percent of the graduating class.

He chose his vocational education teacher, Eric Holton, as his STAR Teacher. Holton, who was honored as last year’s Chamber Citizen of the Year, was the first vocational education teacher so honored since 1993.

“Most people, when they think of education these days,” Fair said, “think of math, science, social studies, but what they often overlook are the vocational teachers, and that’s part of why I chose Mr. Holton as my STAR teacher. He’s been critical to my success. He’s been a great advisor, a great teacher, and he’s helped me and other students meet their goals. He’s been a great motivator, and I want to thank him.”


Shane and Amy Moore, owners of Moore Acres, accept the Chamber’s award for Small Business of the Year. Shane and Amy Moore, owners of Moore Acres, accept the Chamber’s award for Small Business of the Year. After graduation in May, he said, Fair plans to join his brother Josh, who was the STAR student two years ago, at North Georgia College. They are the sons of Bill and Tanya Fair of Washington.

Holton said that Joel Fair is a student of great character and honesty. “He kept me on my toes,” he said, “and he came to school prepared to learn. He always showed a desire to learn, and that’s what you have to have to be successful in life. He deserves this honor because of his attitude and his work ethic, and I congratulate him for it.”


Eric Holton was the first vocational education teacher chosen to be the STAR teacher since 1993. Eric Holton was the first vocational education teacher chosen to be the STAR teacher since 1993. After an introduction of the 2011 Chamber Board of Directors by the board’s president, David Toburen, and tourism highlights by Tourism Director Erin Pollock, the muchanticipated annual awards capped the evening.

Melissa Grant was chosen as Volunteer of the Year. “She is always positive, dedicated, and willing to volunteer for various events during the year,” Chamber board member Robbie Ross said. “She volunteers every week at the Chamber of Commerce and the Womans Club, and in many other places.”

Pete Gartrell was chosen as the Citizen of the Year. The director of Washington-Wilkes Parks and Recreation, Ross said, “Gartrell is active on several boards, was a driving force behind the highly successful Christmas Parade of Lights, and is a role model to our children at Parks and Rec.”

Moore Acres, owned by Shane and Amy Moore, was the chamber’s choice as Small Business of the Year. “Amy and I started this business with the intention of getting kids outdoors and learning about outdoor activities, agriculture and nature,” Shane Moore said. “I hope we’ve had a positive impact on kids, and I hope we get to do it for many years to come.”

Hollander Home Fashions in Tignall was named the chamber’s Big Business of the Year. “This manufacturing business employs more than 100 people, and is one of the largest employers in Wilkes County,” Ross said. “They distribute products all over the country to stores like Target, Wal-Mart, and Costco. They are a model for business manufacturing, consistently growing their workforce and providing jobs for the area.” Hollander’s HR manager Tina Dodgen accepted the award for plant manager Herb Jones, who was travelling.

In closing, Chamber board president Dave Toburen pointed out that it is fitting that the STAR Teacher and the Small Business of the Year represented the agricultual sector of the county’s economy. “In the most recent Farm Gate Value Report,” he said, “Wilkes County was number two in the state in both hay production and in the production of beef cattle. The total farm gate value of agriculture in Wilkes County is $87,437,595. Make no mistake about it, agriculture is vital to Wilkes County and to the state of Georgia.”

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