The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce hosted its 31st Annual Awards Luncheon on Tuesday at the Green Park Inn. Charles Hardin, president and CEO of the chamber welcomed the packed dining room and gave an overview of chamber news for the past year. The chamber ended 2017 with 519 total members and 28 chamber partners. Hardin pointed out the success of their weekly newsletter reaching over 1000 subscribers with a 42% open rate. The chamber’s new visitor guide will be 114 pages, their largest ever, and they have published a new official map for the town. The chamber’s multiple events such as Winterfest and Savor covered 21 days in 2017. They also hosted 8 business after hours and 7 ribbon cuttings. The chamber gave the Village Foundation a $8,000 contribution from member donations that helped the foundation raise $200,000 last year that will go to fund projects like the Laurel Lane project and refurbishing the two town entrance signs on Hwy. 321. Hardin also announced that a new lease on the building they have their offices located now has a purchase option that the chamber hopes to take advantage of this year.
Hardin then recognized departing board members and introduced new the incoming board members. A plaque was then presented to Jim Pitts of Blue Ridge Mountain Club for his service as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Chamber this past year.
The Award Ceremony
Jerry Burns Ambassadorial Award
The award presentations began with the Jerry Burns Ambassadorial Award that is presented to an individual who has impacted the town in the most positive ways. J.B. Lawrence introduced this year’s recipient who happens to be his mother-in-law Betty Pitts. Betty Pitts has been a resident of Blowing Rock since 1945 and has been writing a column for the Blowing Rocket newspaper since 1994 called the Quiet Corner – and has not missed a week since she started publishing her column. She was described as one of those people that embodies the spirit of the town whenever she is out in public – off the mountain or in the area – where ever she is, she is a big advocate of the town.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The next award was the Lifetime Achievement Award that is given periodically by the chamber to a business that has a long history in Blowing Rock. This year Loni Miller, Membership Director for the chamber, recognized Hanna’s Oriental Rugs whose shop has been on Main Street for almost 100 years, with four generations of family members that have helped managed the store. Opened in 1919, the store is now operated by Thamena Hanna.
Award for Commercial Renovation
Chelsea Garrett of The di Santi Watson Capua Wilson & Garrett, PLLC presented the Award for Commercial Renovation, given in recognition of an outstanding commercial renovation completed in 2017. The nominees were: The Speckled Trout Restaurant and Bottle Shop, My Mountain Home, Camp Coffee and Sunset and Vine. The award went to The Speckled Trout Restaurant and Bottle Shop.
Award for New Construction
Joy Whitlatch from State Farm Insurance presented the award for new construction given in recognition of the outstanding new construction completed and operational in 2017. The nominees were: The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge and Enterline and Russell. The Award went to The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge.
Award for Best Customer Service Award
The United Community Bank Award for Best Customer Service Award is given to a business that exemplifies great customer service either on a regular basis, or through an extraordinary action. The nominees were: Foggy Rock & Sunny Rock, Mellow Mushroom, Appalachian Evergreens, Monkee’s of Blowing Rock, Mountainaire Inn & Log Cabins, My Mountain Home, Blowing Rock Antique Center, Blowing Rock Market, Canvas Beauty Bar, Footsloggers of Blowing Rock, First Citizens Bank And the award went to Foggy Rock & Sunny Rock.
Award for Outstanding Business Service
Jess Wehrmann of Monkee’s of Blowing Rock presented the award for Outstanding Business Service. This is a new award and is given to a business service that went above and beyond in an outstanding way. And the nominees are: Edward Jones – Billy Chick, First Citizens Bank – Rita Davis & Team, Vixster – Zak Ammar, Sam & Robert Hess, CPAs, Bush Carpets, Canvas Beauty Bar – Heather Rogers and Wells Fargo. And the winner was Billy Chick of Edward Jones.
Award for Service to the Community
The Award for Service to the Community is given to the member business or organization which has made positive contributions to the Blowing Rock Community through volunteerism, philanthropy, or community service. Nominees will have made a measurable impact toward the improvement of an issue of importance to the Blowing Rock Community. The award was presented by Jim Pitts of The Blue Ridge Mountain Club and the nominees were: BRAHM, Sheri Furman, Bless Your Heart, Matt Vincent, VPC Builders, Deb & Jim McDowell, Mountainaire Inn & Log Cabins, Outback Restaurant, Village Foundation of Blowing Rock, David Barker, Blowing Rock Market, Wendy Patoprsty, Middle Fork Greenway, Karyn Herterich, Virginia Powell, Mike Wilcox, Town of Blowing Rock. And the winner was Sheri Furman from Bless Your Heart
2017 Volunteer of The Year Award
Charles Hardin presented the 2017 Volunteer of The Year Award. “This award given to a volunteer who goes above and beyond to help the Chamber. They support the Chamber in every way from volunteering at events to getting involved with Chamber functions. They are an invaluable asset in every way,” Hardin said as he announced this year’s winner – Melissa Pickett
Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year
The last award of the luncheon was the the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. Hardin explained that the award goes to a business that “excels in areas of community involvement, business promotion, and teamwork. The Business of the Year will reflect the best of Blowing Rock, demonstrating high ethical standards and community spirit in accordance with the mission of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce.” The nominees were: Bistro Roca, Bless Your Heart, Blue Ridge Mountain Club, Chetola Resort, Doc’s Gem Mine, Mountainaire Inn & Log Cabins, Rhoddie Bicycle Outfitters, The Speckled Trout Restaurant & Bottle Shop, Town Tavern and Tweetsie Railroad. This year’s winner was Bistro Roca.
The Green Park dining room was filled up with chamber members and guests for the 31st Annual Awards Luncheon.