Chamber’s annual meeting draws 300
by Anna Oakes
Attendees filled the cars of the Tweetsie Railroad train on
Tuesday as part of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce’s 63rd annual meeting,
which drew 300 people in boots, chaps and hats for a cowboy-themed event.
The meeting is held annually to install a new board of
directors, recognize program partners and present awards to members of the
Daniel Minton of Denton Insurance Agency was installed for a
one-year term as the new chairman of the chamber’s board of directors,
replacing outgoing chairman Omer Tomlinson.
Minton thanked Tomlinson for his year of service and said,
“Thanks to each one of you who make daily contributions to the area’s economic
health and our quality of life.”
At Tweetsie, chamber members enjoyed a barbecue buffet
dinner under a large tent. Following dinner, attendees boarded the attraction’s
train, stopping along the way for performances by Tweetsie’s costumed actors
and presentations of chamber awards.
Receiving the Wade Brown Award for Community Recognition was
100-year-old Robert Shipley, who was born in Valle Crucis in 1912, taught at
Cove Creek and Watauga high schools until 1977.
He has been an active member of the Mountaineer Ruritan Club
and is the lone remaining charter member of the Boone Rotary Club.
He has been a member of Henson Chapel United Methodist
Church, and his family farm has operated for more than 140 years.
“A life well-lived … for his family and for our community,”
said chamber President Dan Meyer.
The Alfred Adams Award for Economic Development, which
recognizes individuals or organizations who have worked for the orderly growth
and development of Boone and Watauga County, was awarded to the Boone Town
Council. Meyer’s comments recognized the town’s efforts to secure a new water
supply source on the South Fork of the New River.
“Boone’s water supply is not just critical to Boone, but to
Blowing Rock and Appalachian State University … It has further impact if we
ever hope to expand business development into the ETJ and Watauga County,”
The Ben Suttle Special Services Award for Volunteerism was
posthumously awarded to Brian Newell, who passed away earlier this year.
Newell, who worked in restaurants, hospitality and media services, served on
the Boone Town Council, Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Development Authority,
Watauga Education Foundation, Employment Security Commission and Boone Optimist
Club. He was also a Mason and a volunteer coach for Watauga County Parks and
Tomlinson described him as “a businessman who loved the
community and often gave back with countless volunteer hours.”
Eric Woolridge, director of tourism planning for the Watauga
County and Boone tourism development authorities, was the recipient of the Sue
Wilmoth Award for the Advancement of Tourism.
“One of his strengths is his outstanding grant writing
skills, and he has been extremely successful at securing grants to help
leverage the tourism development funds on many tourism projects,” said Meyer.
Woolridge helped organize a March 2010 Outdoor Recreation
Summit, wrote and developed the Boone Area Outdoor Recreation Plan, secured
more than $550,000 in grant funding for Rocky Knob Park and has secured
hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funds for trail and river access
development and improvements.
Woolridge also helped develop a master plan for improvements
to Daniel Boone Park, which includes the Horn in the West amphitheater.
Brian Crutchfield was the recipient of the everGREEN Award
for Leadership in Sustainability. Crutchfield, who retired this year as the
director of sustainable development for Blue Ridge Electric, is knowledgeable
about rebates and tax incentives for energy-efficient technologies, was
involved in the county’s landfill methane-to-electricity project, is an active
member of Boone Green Drinks and helped leverage more than $250 million in
corporate investments during a 30-year career.
In June, the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce recruited 200 new members as part of its membership drive.