Chamber Hosts Annual Membership Banquet

Published 3:14 pm Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mavis Hill, Janie Spencer, and Charlie Ogletree stop from an engaging conversation to pose for a picture

Mavis Hill, Janie Spencer, and Charlie Ogletree stop from an engaging conversation to pose for a picture

submitted by Ann Ward
The Greater Tyrrell County Chamber of Commerce celebrated their Annual Membership Banquet on April 29, 2014.  The festive occasion was celebrated Mardi Gras style and was held at Old Salt Oyster Bar in Downtown Columbia.

The evening began with live jazz music provided by “Connected,” a group from Elizabeth City, NC.  The group featured Wayne James (Band Director at Northeastern High School) on the trumpet, Dennis Figgs, Jr. (Director of Music at J.C. Sawyer Elementary School) on the piano and Ellard Forrester (Professor of Music at Elizabeth City State University) on the drums.  The group performed during the social time and following the awards program.  Formerly known as Jazz Connection of Elizabeth City, the group was founded in 1966.  The entire musical group is composed of nine members but they perform as trios, quartets, etc., based on the occasion and size of venue. Their repertoire consists of music from various genres: Swing, Latin, Funk, R/B and Fusion.  The group mainly played Jazz for the banquet function.  “Connected” plays regularly at restaurants on the Outer Banks and they performed at the Duck Jazz Festival, the Indian Summer Festival, the Potato Festival and other local festivals and celebration in the Albemarle Area.

Following the social which featured the live entertainment, cash bar and appetizers, Chamber President Ann Ward welcomed everyone attending.  In her remarks she thanked the Old Salt Oyster Bar Management and Staff as well as the Chamber Banquet Committee members for the fine jobs everyone had done in organizing and preparing the event.  She also introduced the members of “Connected” who had performed during the social.

Board member Pam Swain recognized the distinguished guests who were attending which included:  Joyce Mitchell, Community Outreach Director for U.S. Senator Kay Hagan; Betty Jo Shepherd, Eastern Regional Field Representative for U.S. Senator Richard Burr; County Manager, David Clegg; County Commissioner Leroy Spivey;  and Town of Columbia Mayor Michael Griffin and his wife, Suzanne. Representing the Town of Columbia Board of Aldermen were Sandra Owens, Mike Crowder and his wife Vi, and Midge Ogletree and her husband Charles.  Also representing the Town of Columbia was Town Manager Rhett White.

Sponsors for the Banquet were thanked and recognized which were as follows.  Silver Bead Sponsors: David Armstrong Services, LLC; Eastern 4-H Center; Southern Insurance; Vantage South Bank; Whitecap Linen and Ann Ward.  Bronze Bead Sponsors: BB&T Wealth; Brickhouse Inn; Bryan Funeral Services; Cherry Farms Seed Company; David Clegg; Mark and Karen Clough; Hornthal,Riley, Ellis & Maland, LLP; Norman Sand; Old Salt Oyster Bar; Kim Wheeler with Red Wolf Coalition; Sue Voliva Spivey Memorial and Weatherly Insurance.

Patricia Respess recognized the Chamber Board of Directors which included President Ann Ward, President-Elect Kim Wheeler, Secretary Brenda Mixon, Treasurer Karen Clough, Steve Bryan, Frank Hughes, Ingrid Lemme, Patricia Respess and Pam Swain.  Chamber Board Past President and Advisor, Monica Mauffray, was also recognized.

Board Member Steve Bryan gave the Invocation prior to the buffet dinner which featured: Jambalaya, Bourbon Chicken, Shrimp and Grits, Cajun Grilled Corn on the Cob, Red Beans, Assorted Breads and a selection of desserts which featured King Cake, Beignets and Miniature Cheesecakes. “The band performed during the meal which added even more to the festive atmosphere created by the wonderful decorations,” says Ann Ward.

Following the dinner, Board Member Karen Clough shared highlights of the Chamber during 2013.  Featured were: membership promotion, hosting a successful fall bazaar, hosting a successful River Town Christmas event (in spite of inclement weather).  She also talked about having a successful year for the Chamber’s Buy Local Campaign, which resulted in higher tax dollars for providing local services.  The April Buy Local drawing was held following Mrs. Clough’s presentation.  The gift was donated by Elements Café and the winner was Mrs. Lucy Bateman, from the Soundside community.

An introduction of the new strategic planning process for the Chamber was presented by Mr. Richard Bunch, Regional Marketing Manager for the North Carolina’s Northeast Commission, who will be facilitating the Chamber’s strategic planning session.  “Members and interested parties are being encouraged to offer their input on how the Chamber can best meet the business needs of the county and to offer suggestions of what programs and events they would like to see sponsored,” states Ms. Ward.  An informal survey was distributed to attendees to gain their input.

The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the Business of the Year and the Sue Spivey Volunteer of the Year.  Kim Wheeler from the Red Wolf Coalition, last year’s recipient of the Business of the Year Award, recognized Whitecap Linen as this years’ winner of the award.  Whitecap Linen was acknowledged for their support of the community including employment opportunities, employee flex time to volunteer on Chamber and community service projects and events, complimentary use of linens for local Chamber, schools, town and county events, co-sponsorship of River Town Christmas raffle, Buy Local Campaign gift sponsorship, and annual banquet sponsorship. Accepting the award on behalf of Whitecap Linen was Vice-President of Operations, Monica Mauffray.

Steve Bryan, last year’s recipient of the Sue Spivey Volunteer of the Year recognized Scott McLaughlin as the newest recipient of the award.   Scott was acknowledged for his countless hours of community service doing clean up projects in the town and county.  Mr. McLaughlin regularly on weekends hires (at his own expense) a group of people to clean streets, yards and empty lots, removing and disposing of the debris.  His volunteer efforts result in job creation, an improved appearance and economic strength of the area.  He was also recognized for his economic involvement in purchasing and improving old and dilapidated properties, creating attractive and livable space which again offers employment opportunities.

Closing remarks were given by Ann Ward and “Connected” resumed their entertainment for the banquet attendees at the conclusion of the program.  An estimated 90 people attended the event.