By Jessica Isaacs | [email protected]
Photos by Ken Ketchie
The beautiful Hugh Chapman Center played host to the Avery County Chamber of Commerce for its annual business meeting and awards ceremony on Tuesday evening, which drew a large crowd and recognized several local leaders and organizations.
Guests enjoyed a catered cocktail reception and an impressive view of Grandfather Mountain as the night’s events proceeded.
DeLee Scott, director of membership and marketing for the Williams YMCA of Avery County, was emcee for the night.
Chamber President Melynda Martin Pepple took to the podium to thank chamber members for their support in recent years and recognized staff members and members of the chamber’s board of directors for their continued service.
“Being a new director of almost two years, with new management comes lots of changes,” she said. “I want to thank you for your patience and I want to thank you for your support, because it takes all of us working together to make it happen.”
Scott later presented the chamber’s 2016 business awards.
Continue reading to view photo from the event and find out who earned the awards this year.
2016 Volunteer of the Year
Ruth Shirley, Principal, Crossnore Elementary School
“Some of you may know Ruth Shirley as principal of Crossnore Elementary School. Her students and their parents know her simply as ‘Miss Ruth.’ Many others in Avery know Ruth as the go-to person when they face a situation or have a need that calls for a knowledgeable and willing volunteer they go to her,” said Scott. “Sometimes it is difficult, even for Ruth, to separate her workday from her volunteer time; they flow together; they focus on families and children. Her day does not end when school closes for the day, for the weekend or the summer.
“Ruth is a fixer. If she cannot fix a problem or issue herself, she’ll find an agency, a church, a friend to get the help needed. This is done quickly, quietly and with respect, compassion and love for those people. Others are always getting the credit for whatever is accomplished, and she’s okay with that.
“Ruth visits homes, hospitals, churches. She attends funerals. She takes children to shop for clothes and shoes. She shops for food and arranges the delivery of heating fuel that may be low that she will deliver in her own truck. Ruth arranges special treats for children: a movie, a trip to eat, out a chance to come swim at the Y, a ride to a sports practice, jut to name a few. Ruth has served on local boards of directors, and, while she does this willingly and with pride, her greatest joy comes from one-on-one contact that makes life better for Avery County families.”
2016 Nonprofit of the Year
Avery County Habitat for Humanity
“At Avery County Habitat for Humanity, they build. It’s that simple,” Scott said. “It’s on their website. They build. They build because they believe that everyone everywhere should have a healthy, affordable place to call home.
“More than building homes, they build communities; they build hope; and they build the opportunity for families to help themselves and others. Habitat allows families to break the cycle of poverty and build long-term financial security with an affordable, stable home. Families have more to spend on food, medicine, childcare, education and other essentials. Avery County Habitat is part of transforming the lives of more than 5 million people around the world.”
2016 Business Person of the Year
Chip King, Director of Golf, Grandfather Golf and Country Club
“Chip King walked into Grandfather Golf and Country Club in 1977 without an appointment, without a contact at the club, and Chip was hired on the spot — an amazing stroke of luck,” said Scott. “From that point on, Chip has made it his main priority to become one of the country’s most respected golf professionals.
“In 2015, Chip was inducted into the Carolinas PGA Hall of Fame. This distinction is not the first of Chip’s distinguished career. He has been honored as the 2001 CPGA’s well as 2002 PGA of America Resort Merchandiser of the Year. He was recipient of the 1991 CPGA Professional of the Year award. In ’99 and ’94, the CPGA Neil Strausbaugh Award.
“Chip has been instrumental in organizing and implementing hundreds of charity golf tournaments at Grandfather Golf and Country Club for local nonprofit organizations. The Avery County Chamber of Commerce honors Chip King today and we are grateful for your dedication.”
2016 Business of the Year
SkyLine/SkyBest Membership Corporation
With an investment of more than $200 million in its net worth over the past 30 years, SkyLine has had the most extensive fiber infrastructure in the High Country.
As a member-owned cooperative, SkyLine/SkyBest operates on four founding principles: active community engagement, leadership, economic development and support.
“Skyline/SkyBest Membership Corporation has provided telecommunication services to our area, the Banner Elk and Beech Mountain exchanges, for well over half a century. Not half a decade, half a century,” Scott said. “To name just a few of its major outreach initiatives: SkyLine has awarded more than a half million dollars in college scholarships to area students, including Avery High students; just under a half million dollars in grants in area school systems for technology, including support for Avery County Schools’ 1:1 initiative; it is also an annual corporate sponsor of Lees-McRae’s summer theatre. SkyLine is also involved in Leadership Avery and is a leading sponsor of Avery Chamber’s golf tournament. It contributes to such nonprofits as Greater Banner Elk Heritage Foundation, Historic Banner Elk School, the YMCA and the Reaching Avery Ministry, which is among area food pantries supported by SkyLine’s annual breakfast food drive.”