Tony Hunter Receives Person of the Year Award at Banner Elk Chamber’s Annual Meeting

Published Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 2:01 pm

By Jessica Isaacs | jessica@highcountrypress.com

Friends, colleagues, business owners and community leaders gathered at the elegant Stonewalls Restaurant to celebrate the kindness and good deeds of Tony Hunter, who was awarded Person of the Year for 2016 by the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce at its annual meeting on Thursday.

Tony Hunter and his wife are shown at Stonewalls Restaurant in Banner Elk after he received the Person of the Year Award from the Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. Photo by Jim Swinkola.

Tony Hunter and his wife are shown at Stonewalls Restaurant in Banner Elk after he received the Person of the Year Award from the Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. Photo by Jim Swinkola.

Restaurant owners John and Anne Carriere closed Stonewalls for the night to host the chamber’s 180 members and special guests, who convened for dinner and fellowship.

The group reflected on a year of big accomplishments for the chamber, including successful events for the public like the Fourth of July celebration and the Christmas in the Park festivities that took place in 2015.

As guests enjoyed a fine meal, former Banner Elk mayor Deka Tate stood front and center to share her gratitude for the work that Hunter has given of himself and of his business, Hunter’s Tree Service, to the community.

Tony Hunter

“You’ve heard the expression ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed.’ I was always coming up with these ideas in the past, and people would say, ‘Good grief, how are you going to do that? That’s impossible,” said former mayor Deka Tate. “I would think about my friend and, sure enough, every time, he was a friend indeed. He was always ready for whatever crazy request I had and would say, ‘Okay, I’ll help.’”

Chamber President JoAnn McMurray spoke to the crowd about Hunter’s latest contribution — the 35-foot Christmas tree that served as a beacon in the community over the recent holiday season.

“Throughout the years, I have heard people talk about this wonderful tree that was in front of the Perry House and how they would put lights on it at Christmastime and decorate it, how beautiful it was and how everybody just loved it,” McMurray said. “I was thinking about how we could recreate this, and I had an idea to get a really big Christmas tree and put it up in front of the school.”

With plans in the works for a massive holiday display, McMurray turned to Hunter back in November for help in making it happen. Ready and willing to serve his community, Hunter made himself, his company, his equipment and his employees available for the tree project. On Nov. 28, they cut, transported, erected, secured and decorated a Christmas tree that was bigger and better than what McMurray had imagined.

Tony Hunter receives the Person of the Year Award from Chamber President JoAnn McMurray at the annual meeting on Thursday. Photo by Ken Ketchie.

Tony Hunter receives the Person of the Year Award from Chamber President JoAnn McMurray at the annual meeting on Thursday. Photo by Ken Ketchie.

“Since I asked him to take care of that Christmas tree for me, I have heard so many stories about some of the wonderful things he has done for this community,” McMurray said as she called Hunter up to the front of the room.

“I think he’s been long overdue for this award,” she said as she handed Hunter the plaque. “Thank you for everything you do for the chamber and for the community.”

The crowd of friends and neighbors in the room applauded, whistled and cheered with appreciation as Hunter received the award.

Even in receiving an honorable recognition awarded by his peers, Hunter remained humble and expressed his appreciation for the chamber.

“I’m just glad to help and I thought the tree turned out pretty nice,” Hunter said. “They did a good job getting the lights up and getting it decorated. Thank you so much.”

A native of High Point, North Carolina, Hunter has called the High Country his home for more than three decades. In his time here, he’s built a successful business, served as a volunteer firefighter, worked as a Rotarian and helped the community in countless ways.

“I’ve been in the mountains for 36 years and I went to Lees-McRae College in 1980. I have worked here, lived here, done business here and have a lot of ties to Banner Elk. It just feels like home,” Hunter said. “My parents and my grandparents raised me to be a good steward for the community, so it was instilled in me at a pretty young age to give back where you live. I’ve always felt like I should do what I’m capable of, and so that’s what I have done.

“The Banner Elk Chamber is a pretty large group and there’s a lot of people that volunteer a lot of time, so I was amazed that I received the award compared to what some other people do in the organization. I was shocked and really pleased to have the award.”

To learn more about Hunter and his business, check out hunterstreeserviceinc.com or call 828-733-3320.

For more information on the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce, visit bannerelk.org or call 828-898-8395.

 

Photos of Tony Hunter and Hunter’s Tree Service by Jim Swinkola:

Tony Hunter

Tony Hunter

Hunter's Tree Service

Hunter’s Tree Service

Tony Hunter and the crew from Hunter's Tree Service erect the giant Christmas tree in Banner Elk in November.

Tony Hunter and the crew from Hunter’s Tree Service erect the giant Christmas tree in Banner Elk in November.

Tony Hunter is pictured with his wife.

Tony Hunter is pictured with his wife.

Tony Hunter

Tony Hunter

 

Photos of the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce annual meeting at Stonewalls on Jan. 13 by Ken Ketchie:

Banner Elk Chamber members enjoy dinner at Stonewalls Restaurant on Jan. 13.

Banner Elk Chamber members enjoy dinner at Stonewalls Restaurant on Jan. 13.

Banner Elk Chamber members enjoy dinner at Stonewalls Restaurant on Jan. 13.

Banner Elk Chamber members enjoy dinner at Stonewalls Restaurant on Jan. 13.

Banner Elk Chamber members enjoy dinner at Stonewalls Restaurant on Jan. 13.

Banner Elk Chamber members enjoy dinner at Stonewalls Restaurant on Jan. 13.

Former Banner Elk mayor Deka Tate tells heartwarming stories of Tony Hunter's gifts to the community at the chamber's annual meeting at Stonewalls.

Former Banner Elk mayor Deka Tate tells heartwarming stories of Tony Hunter’s gifts to the community at the chamber’s annual meeting at Stonewalls.

Chamber President JoAnn McMurray speaks during the meeting at Stonewalls on Jan. 13.

Chamber President JoAnn McMurray speaks during the meeting at Stonewalls on Jan. 13.

Stonewalls owners Anne and John Carriere are pictured in the restaurant during the chamber's annual meeting on Thursday.

Stonewalls owners Anne and John Carriere are pictured in the restaurant during the chamber’s annual meeting on Thursday.

Tony Hunter receives the Person of the Year Award from Chamber President JoAnn McMurray at the annual meeting on Thursday. Photo by Ken Ketchie.

Tony Hunter receives the Person of the Year Award from Chamber President JoAnn McMurray at the annual meeting on Thursday. Photo by Ken Ketchie.

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