In April 28 IssueBy Kim GrahamTimes Journal Reporter
Local business professionals got together last Thursday for the annual Russell County Chamber of Commerce Banquet held at Russell County Schools Auditorium/Natatorium Complex in Russell Springs.
After a buffet meal provided by Treasure Bites Catering, door prizes, and awards presentations, attendees laughed away their stresses with Comic Ventriloquist Steve Brogan.
"The banquet was a huge success this year," said Russell County Chamber of Commerce President Joy Fletcher. "It was a great night to mix and mingle with fellow business people in the community."
RC Chamber of Commerce Vice President Adam Stille presented this year's Membership Blitz results and discussed the chamber's Facebook fan page as well as bringing back a monthly newsletter.
"The blitz was outstanding," said Stille. "It went so well that already this quarter, we've made more in dues than all last year."
He said the chamber added 41 new members during the blitz bringing the total to 215 members.
The chamber is reaching out to the community through social media and by bringing back a monthly newsletter produced by Lindsey Wilson and Ramie Hutchison he said.
"Facebook gives businesses a chance to network," said Stille. "We promote not only happenings with the chamber but also events happing in our community."
He encouraged folks to look up the chamber on Facebook and click on the like button to receive chamber updates and community news.
To sign up for the newsletter, call 270-866-4333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several awards were presented to local businesses for exemplary service to the community.
Highway 80 Custom Accessories Store received the Barbara Burdette Beautification Award from Russell County Business and Professional Women presented by BPW President Lindsey Wilson.
The chamber's New Business Award went to Matt and Lisa Gosser for their store, Lakewoods Rent-to-Own.
"Matt and Lisa Gosser are natives of Russell County and are actively involved in multiple endeavors," said Fletcher. "But the endeavor for which they are being recognized tonight is one that is brightening up Main Street in Russell Springs."
She said the business is one of a kind in Russell County and employs four staff members. Lakewoods Rent-to-Own sells furniture, appliances, electronics, cell phones, and other items.
Premier Integrity Solutions received the Outstanding Business Award for the company's continued expansion and accomplishments in advanced drug and alcohol testing, collections services, background checks, DNA testing, and more.
"(Premier Integrity Solutions) is the fastest growing company of its kind in the nation," Fletcher said. "The company employs 35 full-time and 130 part-time people at six branches across the state and is headquarted in Russell County."
Premier was founded eleven years ago by Russell Countians Brian Walters and Wes Bottom.
Russell County Industrial Development Authority Director, Gene Royalty was inducted into the chamber's hall of fame at the banquet.
"Tonight's recipient of the Russell County Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame Award came to Russell County to retire…because of his wealth of knowledge and expertise, he was approached by various members of the Russell County Industrial Development Authority to work part-time as executive director of that group," Fletcher said.
She said, since 1999, Royalty has been instrumental in completion of Russell County Business Park, development of French Valley Park, and many other business ventures in the county.
"This gentleman's motto is 'It's amazing what you can get done when you don't care who gets the credit for it.'," Fletcher said. "The work he has had a hand in will benefit Russell County for generations to come."
The late Ralph Creech was posthumously awarded the President's Award which was accepted by his widow, Rhea Creech and daughter, Katie.
"Ralph joined the Russell County Chamber of Commerce in 1996 when he moved to Russell County and was always very involved as a member, director, and President," said Fletcher. "He served on Chamber committees and worked on projects to promote and encourage business in Russell County."
An emotional Fletcher recalled Ralph's devoted service to his community.
"Ralph always took great pride in calling Russell County his home," Fletcher said.
"He loved Russell County and wanted the best for us."
Each year, the chamber recognizes the contributions of the previous year's president with the Past President Award which was presented this year to James Gray.
"Last year, our Chamber of Commerce saw new opportunities and benefits added to our membership," said Fletcher. "President James Gray brought in fresh ideas such as the Business Exposition and free training hosted by Congressman Hal Roger's office."
More than 300 attendees visited the expo free of charge for an opportunity to learn about services and products offered by local businesses.
Attendance and booths at this year's chamber banquet were down from last year but Fletcher reasoned that many local businesses plan to participate in the business expo rather than set up exhibits at the banquet.
"The purpose of the expo is to present your business and wares to the public," said Fletcher. "Many businesses decided to hold off and present at the expo next month."
She said the banquet is more of a social event.
"It was relaxing and enjoyable to come out and have a great meal, entertainment, and focus on the positives of the community," Fletcher said.
The Russell County Chamber of Commerce and the Cumberlandsworkforce Network/Area Development District Business Expo will be held Tuesday, May 24th from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Russell County Schools Auditorium/Natatorium Complex in Russell Springs.
For more information, contact Debbie Conner at 270-866-4333.