With keynote speakers, honored guests, awards and the ceremonious passing of the gavel, the Chamber's annual meeting went off in fine style Friday. Fittingly, the event was carried out before a capacity crowd to recognize volunteer, leaders and staff for creating a successful 2011 in which many of the organization's largest events were sold out.
The 2012 annual meeting placed a great emphasis on community and teamwork. Under the theme, "Let the Horses Run," the event recognized the work of chamber leaders throughout 2011 and a commitment to letting community leaders "run" with initiatives, committees and events.
Outgoing Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors Fred Kittle, gave a personal thanks to leaders within the organization's membership who aided in the chamber's success.
"The chamber, again I'll say, is a microcosm of the community and thanks to the community and leaders and your love of this place, everything went real well," Kittle said.
In passing the gavel to 2012 Chairman Bruce Thompson, Kittle swore in the chamber's newest leadership reading from the position's oath of office.
"By selecting you as the chamber chairman of the board, we as the chamber community are placing the utmost confidence in you to provide the leadership to our organization in its effort to bring about a better and more prosperous community," Kittle said.
After receiving the gavel and presenting Kittle with the traditional, ceremonial chair, Thompson gave a brief look at his vision for the coming year. In doing so, he laid out an initiative for mentoring small business owners through professional members. Through this and other programs, Thompson hopes to accomplish goals and see the organization's continued success.
"This community is a great community," Thompson said. "If we have the right attitude, and this community does, we can embrace anything that comes our way."
A tradition of recent annual meetings is the induction of historic Bartow County business leaders into the Bartow Business Hall of Fame. This year's first inductee was Col. Robert Henry Jones, 1828-1897, a colonel in the American Civil War and a successful carriage manufacturer based in Cartersville. The second figure named to the hall of fame was William Henry Stiles, 1809-1865, lawyer, U.S. district attorney for the state of Georgia, state representative, state senator, congressman and once the U.S. ambassador to Austria.
Many among the living were also recognized Friday for their work in service to the chamber and the community during 2011:
* Small Business of the Year: Cartersville OB/GYN Associates
* Georgia Deal of the Year: Toyo Tire
* Bartow County Deal of the Century: LakePoint Sports
* Leadership Award: 2011 Chamber Board of Directors
* Chairman's Mentor Award: Gene Lee, Parnick Jennings and Connie Smith.
* Chairman's Award: Bruce Thompson
* Volunteer of the Year: Patrick Nelson
* Humanitarian Awards: Jimmy Dellinger, Herschel Wisebram, Georgia Museums and Nancy Newman.