Chamber holds annual dinner, awards

By Matt Lasley -

For the first time in 15 years, the Grayson County Chamber of Commerce held its annual Membership Meeting and Dinner at Rough River State Resort Park on Thursday evening, Sept. 24.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Becky Escue welcomed attendees to the event and introduced Chamber of Commerce President Greg Bernard, whom spoke and presented the annual awards.

Bernard, a fourth-generation Chamber of Commerce Board Member who is serving as Chamber President exactly 30 years after his father served as President, said Grayson County’s commerce and economy is on the right track, but local businesses and industry must continue “to look at new ways to stimulate economic growth.”

Bernard also recognized the current members of the Chamber Board: Jennifer Newton, of Whoop-De-Do Design; Barry Embry, of Leggett & Platt; Caneyville Mayor James Embry; Clarkson Mayor Bonnie Henderson; Leitchfield Mayor William Thomason; Grayson County Judge Executive Gary Logsdon; Tourism Representative Ryan Bratcher; Grayson County Schools Superintendent Doug Robinson; Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center CEO Wayne Meriwether; Heidi Baldwin, of Fort Knox Federal Credit Union; Robin Clark, of Tom Baxter Real Estate & Auction; Steven Smith, of The Cecilian Bank; and Escue.

In addition, Bernard recognized retiring Chamber Board Members David Zurmehly and Michele Shaw before commencing with the awards presentations.

Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Chairperson Jaime Bratcher, of Agency 1 Real Estate, presented the 2015 Ambassador of the Year Award to Amanda Joyce, of Mid-Park.

Next, Misty Thomas, of Dan Powers GM Center and also the Tri-County CASA Board of Directors, introduced the recipient of the 2015 Community Service Award, Erica Simpson and Tri-County CASA, which strives to help find permanent homes for children placed into the court system.

Simpson was unable to attend the Chamber Dinner to accept the award, but Thomas accepted the award and read a speech on her behalf. Simpson has chosen to step down as CASA Director after four years to focus on her business Associates in Counseling.

Simpson left social services in 2011, but agreed to return less than a week later to help develop the CASA program in Grayson County, from where she later expanded it into Breckinridge and Meade Counties, as well.

Newton then presented the 2015 Chamber of Commerce Spark Plug Award to Jaime Bratcher.

Fourth on the agenda, Grayson County 4-H Youth Development Agent Kindra Jones presented the 2015 Agriculture and Education Award to Jack Ewing, who retired this past July as Grayson County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources after 44 years of service.

R&B Productions Co-Founder Mark Buckles, of K105, presented the Small Business Award to Joseph Alexander, who accepted the award on behalf of R&B Productions.

Buckles co-founded R&B Productions with the late Ken Roberts, whom Alexander, in his acceptance speech, described as his mentor.

Finally, Grayson County School Board Chair Carolyn Thomason presented the 2015 Twin Lakes Award to Barry Anderson, who retired as Grayson County Schools Superintendent this past July.

“He has said, ‘Every child deserves a better life,’ and he has worked tirelessly to achieve this,” Carolyn Thomason said of Anderson. “You left a wonderful legacy.”

Anderson, in his acceptance speech, said he feels blessed to have worked with Grayson County’s students and staff.

“Everybody wants the best for the students and community of Grayson County,” Anderson said.

To conclude the evening, Author Lisa Golden Smartt, who originally lived in Grayson County before moving to Texas and later to Tennessee, provided the keynote speech.

By Matt Lasley

Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.

Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.

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