Chamber honors best of Walton

Stephen Milligan - the walton tribune

Dr. Nathan Franklin, superintendent of the Walton County School District, accepts the J.L. McGarity Citizenship Award from Mike McGarity at Thursday morning’s annual banquet for the Walton County Chamber of Commerce. Deborah Stewart photo – special to The Walton Tribune

The Walton County Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet Thursday, but with a bit of a twist: for its 75th anniversary, the chamber eschewed its usual evening formal affair for an early-morning breakfast event.

The time and menu might have been different, but the itinerary was much the same, as the Chamber celebrated its best Thursday morning, handing out several awards to some of its most deserving members.

Ammie Elliott, the 2022 chair for the Chamber board, kicked off the meeting with a recap of the Chamber’s accomplishments over the last year.

“2022 has been a great year and one to remember for the Chamber,” Elliott said. 

“Our local business community is the lifeblood of our economy.”

Elliot particularly trumpeted the purchase of the new Chamber office building on North Wayne Street, the first time the entity has owned its office space, attributing much of their recent success to President Teri Smiley, who was honored for 28 years with the Chamber.

“It certainly wasn’t just me,” Smiley said. “Everybody helped make this happen.”

The Chamber handed out several awards after that, too, including Ambassador of the Year to Sandra Asbell, with Ginny’s Custom Embroidery, Member of the Year to Team Up Mentoring, Public Servant of the Year to Monroe Fire Chief Andrew Dykes and Woman of the Year to Patti Souther.

Aimee Elliott, 2022 chair for the Chamber board, presents the Woman of the Year award to Patti Souther alongside Chamber President Teri Smiley. Deborah Stewart photo – special to The Walton Tribune

Bobby Boss, the long-time commander of American Legion Post 233 in Loganville, was also inducted into the Walton County Chamber Hall of Fame. His family accepted the posthumous honor on his behalf.

Family and friends of Bobby Boss, longtime commander of Loganville American Legion Post 233, accepted an award for Boss being posthumously inducted into the Chamber’s Hall of fame. Deborah Stewart photo | Special to The Tribune

Mike McGarity took time to present the J.L. McGarity Citizenship Award, which went to Walton County School District Superintendent Dr. Nathan Franklin.

“Children are the stepping stones to the improvement for any community in which they live,” McGarity said. “If you believe this as I do, you must agree that those persons who inspire, who train and who motivate our children deserve our deepest gratitude. Such a person is Dr. Nathan Franklin. 

“Franklin has truly been dedicated to our community and to the strength of our educational system and there has been no better advocate for the growth of our children and our community.”

Ammie Elliott, 2022 chair for the Chamber board, passes the gavel to the 2023 chair, Bonnie Haynes. Deborah Stewart photo | Special to The Walton Tribune

Finally, Elliott formally passed the gavel to the 2023 Chamber Chair, Bonnie Haynes, who took charge of the meeting to accept the responsibility of leading the Chamber into a new year before dismissing the crowd for the day.

“I look forward to working with all of you,” Haynes said.

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