Winners announced at 92nd Annual Chamber meeting
The 92nd Annual Elbert County Chamber of Commerce banquet featured guest speaker Loran Smith, Executive Secretary to the Georgia Bulldog Club.
Along with hearing speaker Smith, awards were presented by the chamber to those who have been recognized over the past year, and they were acknowledged again.
Jacob Heydinger was recognized as the 2015-16 STAR Student at Elbert County Comprehensive High School. Jacob is the son of Dave and Linette Heydinger. Jacob chose Charles Palmer III as his STAR teacher.
Christy Hart was named Elbert County Teacher of the Year. Hart is a first grade teacher at Elbert County Primary School. The honor now makes Hart eligible to be named 2015-16 Georgia Teacher of the Year.
The chamber’s coveted 2016 Community Service Award went to Celebrate Recovery Ministry. Johnny and Paula Price are the ministry leaders at Celebrate Recovery, which is located at First Baptist Church, Elberton.
The Christian-based ministry was founded 25 years ago by recovering alcoholic John Baker and his pastor, the Rev. Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in Southern California. The organization’s purpose is to help people find freedom from addictions and from compulsive and dysfunctional behaviors. Since its beginning Celebrate Recovery has spread to over 20,000 churches across the nation.
Johnny and Paula learned about the program 11 years ago, approached their pastor about it, recruited and trained a ministry team, and the Elberton chapter of Celebrate Recovery was officially launched in 2005. Since that time the couple has invested virtually every Thursday night of their lives in leading the ministry.
The chamber also recognized The Sports Connection with the 2016 Entrepreneur Award. The award was presented to owner Robby Kidd.
The Sports Connection was established in September of 1994 in an effort to give Elbert County as well as surrounding counties a place where they could shop for their sporting good needs with personalized service. Over 22 years later, Robby is still helping customers meet their athletic and clothing needs, including custom orders. The sporting goods store has provided service for teams, church groups, civic groups, large and small businesses and many others.
In addition to the personal service he gives at The Sports Connection, Robby is also well-known as the voice of the Blue Devil basketball teams on WSGC radio.
The next award presented by the chamber was the 2016 Vision Award. The award went to Kreations by Kathy and owner Kathy Walters, a very talented lady who won a State Homemaking competition while still in middle school. Walters made dolls from Coca-Cola bottles as part of her demonstration that year.
Kathy began on a small scale, making bows for those who saw the ones she made for her daughter. A short time later she began making gift baskets in the evenings and selling them to individuals and small businesses.
In the 1990’s Kathy became involved in “Santa’s Sleigh,” gaining even wider exposure in the community. This led Kathy to purchase an embroidery machine, which she used at home in the evenings while still holding down a full-time job.
In 2010 Kathy found herself unemployed and with the encouragement of friends, decided to open her own business. Nancy Hunt offered to rent a portion of her store on McIntosh Street to house the business. Although a difficult decision, Kathy prayed about it and felt the time was right to give it a try.
Not sure exactly what path to take, Kathy decided to offer a variety of items and services, knowing she could discontinue the ones that did not sell. Instead, Kathy found that all of her ideas worked and even caused the new proprietor to expand her offerings.
After six years in business, Kreations by Kathy is still going strong.
Without a doubt, one of the most coveted awards is the annual Native Citizen Award. This award is presented to an individual who as raised in Elbert County and gone on to outstanding professional achievement. The 2016 award went to Glenn Ethridge.
Ethridge not only has established himself as a leader of the United Methodist Church, he has also dedicated his career to making a difference in the lives of others.
Born and raised in Elbert County, Glenn is the youngest of three children born to Ted and John Ethridge.
Ethridge attended Elbert County schools, where he held many leadership positions and engaged in a number of activities and athletics. He also grew up in the First United Methodist Church and was active in the Youth Fellowship the youth choir and Boy Scout Troop 127.