2019-01-10 / Front Page

Chamber’s annual banquet set for Pope Center Jan. 26

The Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its most recent year of advancement and honor its outstanding members and contributors on Saturday, January 26. In addition, a beer and wine social will precede the dinner and awards banquet beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The event will be held at The Pope Center on Saturday, January 26, and will feature guest speaker Keith McGregor, vice president of operations for Canfor Southern Pine. The banquet is a celebration of businesses and individuals who have “gone above and beyond in making Washington-­Wilkes the best it can be,” W-W Chamber of Commerce executive Director John Singleton said.

Awards will be presented for Small Business of the Year, Large Business of the Year, Civic Organization of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Citizen of the Year. Winners will be chosen from the nominees reported below who have been voted on by Chamber members.

The letters of nomination for those award candidates are reprinted here.

For Civic Organization of the Year:

God’s Marketplace is a faithbased organization that aims to minister to the whole person. It provides temporary and emergency aid, in the name of Christ, to persons living in Wilkes County and the surrounding area. This aid is provided though the Thrift Store, Food Pantry, Home Center and other outreach programs.

The North Wilkes Steering Committee continues in beautifying the little town of Tignall by placing planters with seasonal flowers around the town area. They had the front of the old Bolton store painted and placed wreaths on the doors a well as the doors of the old bank. This committee hosted the largest crowd yet at this year’s “I’d Rather Be in Tignall” fall festival. There were 44 vendors, live entertainment, photo/history display, and a veterans display. All proceeds from the festival are used for the people of North Wilkes and have even funded two scholarships. They also refurbished the city’s welcome signs and are adding more memorial bricks at the community area gazebo. The committee also hosts an annual Tignall Christmas parade.

The Washington Little Theater – For over four decades, the Washington Little Theater has been entertaining audiences with quality dramatic, musical, and operatic performances for people of all ages, making it one of the longest running community theaters in the state of Georgia. In addition to a full schedule of traditional live theater productions, they also offer an annual Summer Drama Camp for children ages 8-18, as well as a children’s theater production geared towards local school children. The actors are dedicated to putting on a “big city” play in a small town adding a cultural element that many can’t offer.

Kettle Creek Battlefield Association (KCBA) – The KCBA has truly lived up to its purpose: the preservation and restoration of the site of the Battle of Kettle Creek. Working with a master plan developed in 2012, KCBA has made great strides in making the Battlefield not just a local historical site but rather a National Park. The Battle of Kettle Creek was one of Georgia’s most memorable victories during the American Revolution. Under the stewardship of the KCBA, this year Congressman Hice, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, introduced a bill to determine if the Battlefield could be designated a National Park.

For Small Business of the Year:

Poss Ace Hardware – A longtime anchor in downtown, Poss Hardware has continued its dedication to friendly customer service and quality products. New owners Barry and Julia Holloway have continued this dedication through adding modern services and new lines of inventory. Even new residents come to rely on Poss Hardware to assist and even solve their varied problems. It is such a blessing to have a true small town hardware store still in operation.

RTG Contractor – Bob Guin’s cabinet business provides the highest quality cabinets for folks in ­Wilkes and the surrounding counties. Specializing in solid wood cabinets, Mr. Guin has been in business for 28-plus years. He is a real craftsman, a wonderful businessman, and supports many activities in our community.

The Hot Box – Owners Coty Denard and Tommy Davis are consistent in delivering their guests three things: delicious meals made from quality products, quick service from the time the order is taken to delivery, and customer service always served with a smile. Their catering services make corporate lunches and parties a treat. The Hot Box also gives back to our community by sponsoring multiple fundraisers.

The Square Cafe – This very eclectic business offers an inviting space to socialize and eat. The family-style seating makes for interesting conversations. Serving as both a coffee house and bakery, they serve a variety of fresh healthy food and baked treats that vary from week to week. The cakes are works of art. The recent renovations gave it additional space and put it over the top.

For Large Business of the Year:

Canfor – Set to make a major expansion in Wilkes County, Canfor has proven its dedication to this community. Since hospitals are a key component to keeping communities healthy and strong, Canfor proudly donated a total of $60,000 that is shared amongst three Georgia hospitals: Wills Memorial in Washington, Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, and John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville.

City of Washington – For the city, this has been a big year of accomplishments. A new mechanics shop is saving money. A new fire station is nearing completion. Operating costs are at an all-time low without sacrificing services provided to residents and businesses. The city is very attentive to the needs of the community. Improvements are being made all over town from parks, sidewalks, and The Square, to the museums. The city is also pro-active in Economic Development.

F&M Bank was incorporated in 1950 and since has grown to have branches in Washington, Crawfordville, Lincolnton, Tignall, and Martinez. F&M takes great pride in being actively involved in projects that enhance our community and make it a better place to live, work, and play. They are major contributors to so many charities and causes that are important to Wilkes County.

Wills Memorial Hospital is a non-profit critical access hospital that focuses on providing complete medical care for Wilkes, Lincoln, and Taliaferro residents. It provides a range of services from swing beds, to day surgeries, to a 24-hour ER. A major employer for Wilkes County, its existence and survival are vital to our community. This fact was best expressed by the late Dr. C.E. Wills, who said, “A good hospital is the life of a community. And it is built not for a day, but to last as long as the town in which it is situated.”

For Volunteer of the Year:

Ruth Clements – A semi-retired attorney, Ruthie and her husband moved to Wilkes County from Florida a few years ago. She immediately began to put her time and talents to work for the betterment of our community. She is currently president of the Woman’s Club, secretary of the Memory Lane Cruisers, president of the Kettle Creek Battlefield Association, chairman of the Spring Tour Committee, and president of the W-W Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Joe Harris is a driving force behind plans to make the War Hill site of the Battle of Kettle Creek the principal memorial to the American Revolution in Georgia. The future park will have the historic battlefield at its core while other areas will have an assortment of recreational and educational activities. His tireless efforts will hopefully result in an economic boost for Wilkes County in the form of a National Park.

Margie Burke – Always the first to say, “I’ll do it,” Margie is the go-to person for so many charitable fundraisers and activities. From making sure this year that more than 120 senior citizens were blessed with Christmas gifts through “Operation Love and Care” to helping organize the “Stephens House Canned Food Drive,” from helping those in need through “Love Washington” to helping organize the “Miss Wilkes County Pageant” – you can always count on Margie.

For Citizen of the Year:

Sherri Bailey – Since being hired as the City Administrator and through force of will and long hours, Sherri played a major part in bringing the City’s finances into the black. She is tireless in working with people to see the City move ahead and has an impressive list of successes. Just as impressive is the way she is open to suggestions and actively tries to remedy complaints when possible. Sherri is also a member of the Washington Kiwanis Club.

Dr. Alicia Finnell, CTAE (Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education) Director at W-W Comprehensive High School, daily serves our future by inspiring our children to be their best. She guides and prepares them to fulfill their potential. Her CTAE students have a graduation rate of nearly 95 percent. She also serves as the National Honor Society Advisor, a teacher for Wilkes County 21st Century Out-of-School Time Achievers, and recently was given the Outstanding Educator Award sponsored by the Georgia Retired Educators Association (GREA).

Sparky Newsome is clearly a much-loved husband, father, and grandfather. But to the efforts of so many Wilkes County charities, organizations, and all of the activities involving the children in our schools, he is their greatest advocate and supporter. Through his generosity so much valuable free press is given where it otherwise might not be affordable. From front page spotlights for the homecoming court, an eight-year-old’s lemonade stand, or needed boosts to fundraising efforts for Wills Memorial, Sparky is generous beyond a fault.

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