UNION COUNTY — A friend, a volunteer, a small business, an industry, and a very special service group were honored for their service to the community by the Union County Chamber of Commerce during its Annual Members Banquet Thursday evening.
This year’s banquet was held at Philippi Baptist Church and drew a large crowd which enjoyed a meal catered by Midway BBQ and an address on economic development by Deepal S. Eliatamby, P.E., SCCED, President of Alliance Consulting Engineers.
Each year’s banquet features the “Passing of the Gavel” by the Past President to the new President. At Thursday’s banquet Past President Paul Winters passed the gavel to President Scott Sandor.
A big part of each year’s banquet are the awards presentation which honors each year’s Industry, Small Business, Service Group, Volunteer, Shining Star, and Friend of the Chamber.
Thursday’s awards were presented by Union County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Torance Inman who began his presentation with a description of the individuals, groups, businesses, and industries to be honored.
Friend of the Chamber
In announcing the 2016 Friend of the Chamber, Inman offered the following description of a friend.
“Friends are those who are always there and support you when you need them,” Inman said. “The chamber has many friends that fall into this category.”
“One such friend that we honor tonight may not even know that we view them in such a way,” he said. “They never forget us and they are always ready and willing to promote the chamber and its efforts.”
Inman then went on to describe the friend being honored that evening.
“Professionally this person is always digging trying to find information and hates to make the slightest mistake,” Inman said. “The information shared and disseminated through this person is invaluable and the Chamber could not succeed without him and others like him in this room.
“Every conversation begins with, ‘Hello my friend,’ and ends with ‘Thank you, my friend,” he said. “I’m sure he says the same to everyone else, but when it comes to the Chamber, we think he means it. This year’s Friend of the Chamber is (Union Times Editor) Mr. Charles Warner.”
Inman then announced the Chamber’s “Shining Star” for 2016, pointing out that each year “the Chamber Board selects a Shining Star” who he said “is usually someone who shines brightly among a host of stars over the course of the year.”
Past Shining Stars were Col. Jack Whitener, Timken, the Union County Museum, Henry Turner, Freddie Gault, the Union Hospital District, Barbara Rippy, the Miracle League of Union County, and last year, Town of Carlisle Mayor Mary Ferguson-Glenn.
“Union County has a large array of stars that brightly reflect the true character of those who work and live in our community,” Inman said.
Inman described this year’s Shining Star as “a group that has a genuine love for all of Union County and its natural resources. This Shining Star is responsible for an activity that brought thousands of individuals to Union County from all across the United States. Because of this group Union shined for days and continues to shine all across South Carolina and the nation.”
He added that, “Union is heard from shore to shore with music of ‘Black and Tan Coonhounds,’ ‘Bluetick Coonhounds,’ ‘American English Redtick Coonhounds,’ ‘Plott Hounds,’ ‘Redbone Coonhounds,’ and, of course, ‘Treeing Walker Coonhounds.’ The 2016 Shining Star is the Union County Coon Hunter Association.”
Inman added later that the Association was being honored for its role in bringing the Treeing Walker Days Coon Hunting event to Union County. He said it was a joint effort of the Association and the Union County Tourism Commission.
Small Business Of The Year
Inman said the “Small Business of the Year is awarded to a business that creates a strong positive employee relationship and seeks new levels of customer service. They provide excellent and unique levels of service to their customers through value added efficient services.”
The 2016 Small Business of the Year “is locally owned and operated, and employs Union people. Although manned by a small staff, they do a great job in a big way. This business continually on a daily basis promotes local events, activities and making public service announcements for local non-profits, businesses, and government. In addition to providing local news, weather, and entertainment, their list of community activities is long and growing. Just to name a few:
• A coat drive each year
• A Truck Full of Toys
• UCHS Pep Rally
• Senior Expo
• Personal Pocket Book Project
• Relay For Life announcements
• The Country Music Showdown
• Swap and Shop
“And I know I’ve missed some,” Inman said. “This year’s Small Business of the Year is WBCU.”
Industry Of The Year
“This year’s Industry of the Year exemplifies the highest level of concern and care for the future of Union County,” Inman said. “It is not only deeply committed to its mission as a global industry; it is equally committed to its employees and the community where they live.
“This company competes in a global market with India, China, and others,” he said. “It has put together a team of dedicated professionals who have taken them from a very low standing and propelled them to the top.”
Inman pointed out that “every year this company works hard with projects centered on industrial changes, local economic development, community development, and community service. It seems there is no project too small or large for someone with their workforce or management to invest their time and money for the betterment of Union County. Their community impact has been great. They work with:
• Miracle League of Union County: Constructing a Miracle League Playground.
• Union County: Providing LED signs at the Union County Stadium.
• Bonham Fire Department: SCBA breathing units.
• USC Union: In support of the student center courtyard and patron park.
• Salvation Army: Repair and upgrade to the store.
• Carnegie Library, the Union County Arts Council and others.
“The 2016 Industry of the Year is Timken,” Inman said.
Volunteer Of The Year
In announcing the Volunteer of the Year, Inman described volunteers as “the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassionate, unselfish caring, patience, and just love for one another. Volunteers are not paid; not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.”
As for the 2016 Volunteer of the Year, Inman said “this year’s recipient, like most volunteers, are asked to do small things that add up to be large things. This year’s volunteer does not only do small things and large things, they do lots of them, and it’s not part-time, it’s full-time, and overtime. Their volunteer time doesn’t even stop on the weekends and holidays.”
Inman said that “this person’s volunteer duties encompass not only their neighborhood, their community, and their town, but they are involved in this county, neighboring counties, the State of South Carolina, and sometimes the federal government. This person volunteers for all this and more, and receives no pay. This person is involved with tourism, economic development, education, regional development, plus many other committees, activities, and focus groups that support Union County from one end to the other.”
“This year’s Volunteer of the Year is (Town of Lockhart) Mayor Ailene Ashe,” Inman said.
Service Group Of The Year
A “group of unsung heroes” who work “24/7, 365 days a year” are the 2016 Service Group of the Year.
“This year’s service group is a group of our unsung heroes that is most often misunderstood and seldom, if ever, recognized for the great service they provide to the community,” Inman said. “This group deals with individuals that most of us would rather not.
“Their biggest problem is most always having to deal with the public, and we all know what a challenge that can be,” he said. “They work 24/7, 365 days a year.”
Inman said that at times these unsung heroes “are fussed at, cussed at, spit at, shot at, and are called everything under the sun but a child of God. These individuals put their lives on the line every day that they report to duty and often times when they are off duty. Just responding to a burglar alarm, domestic disturbance or a traffic stop is not routine anymore and they can be in grave danger. And for what? To protect you and me.”
With all this in mind, Inman said “these men and women deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. Join me in saying thank you to our Union County law enforcement officers across our county. This year’s Service Group of the Year is the Union County Sheriff’s Deputies, the Union County Public Safety Officers, and the Jonesville Police Officers.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.