Clarkco, Gates, Bozeman among winners at Chamber Banquet

By BRITTNEY MANGUM,

The Clarke County Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet at First Baptist Church in Quitman on January 27. Mr. Lance Burnham welcomed everyone to the event. Ms. Jacy Waltman did an excellent job speaking and representing Distinguished Young Woman as the group enjoyed a meal catered by Skidmore’s Restaurant. Mr. Judd Wilson, part of Tupelo’s Chamber of Commerce, was the special guest for the event.

Multiple citizens were honored during the event.

The Service Award is not an annual award, but it is presented when there is a nominee who exhibits exceptional service in the community. This year, the Service Award was given to Ms. Diane Gates. Ms. Gates is the custodian for the courthouse and brightens everyone’s day with her caring and giving personality. Her infectious, infamous laugh can be heard down the halls of the courthouse, and she always has a smile or word of advice.

“She has been active with the local school system providing support for offspring and being an integral part of support for the school’s activities,” stated Mr. Jim Potuk. “Her giving nature carries over to activities in the community where she serves in a local organization as a board member.”

The Citizen of the Year was presented to Jennifer Bozeman.

Jennifer, who is publisher of The Clarke County Tribune, helps with community needs in various ways. She was the Charter Organization Representative and Treasurer for Cub Scouts Troop 35 for three years, the Charter Secretary for The Clarke County Lions Club for eight years, and a founding member and president of Creature Comforts Animal Shelter. She has helped with several fund raisers and needs within the county.

“She also spends enormous time with her children and shows them the things that are important in life,” said Mayor Eddie Fulton at the Banquet. “She teaches them through her service to others and kindness to all the lessons of life. Despite her workload, she always has a smile and willingness to volunteer her time and help others in our community.”

Clarkco State Park was named Business of the Year. Clarkco has been around for 85 years and has given many people a reason to visit Clarke County. State Park Manager Toney Fleming has made tremendous improvements to the park. Fleming was instrumental in creating the group, Friends of Clarkco State Park, who help fund projects at the park, and bringing in AmeriCorp to help work on bigger projects.

“Most of the time when businesses grow and prosper, they increase employees, but Clarkco has found a way to operate with fewer employees due to state budget cuts,” said Mrs. Elaine Read. “Also, Toney was recognized this year for receiving Park Manager of the Year out of twenty-three parks.”

At the conclusion of the event, Lance Burnham introduced that the 2020 board of directors for the chamber would be Lance Burnham as president, Eddie Fulton as the first vice president, Ben Moore as the second vice president, Ann Potuk as the secretary, and Cathy Kennedy as the treasurer.

The banquet meal was served by various chamber volunteers, QHS Honor Society, EHS Beta Team, and the CCCTC Culinary Arts class and Health Sciences class.