A celebration of the High Country business scene was highlighted by the presentation of seven community awards during the 68th Annual Membership Meeting of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday night. Skyline/Skybest served as presenting sponsor with Red Moon Hospitality catering dinner for over 470 attendees inside the Holmes Convocation Center on the campus of Appalachian State University.
Hospitality Mints, Watauga County’s largest manufacturer, was presented the Alfred Adams Award for Economic Development. The company produces 1.6 billion mints per year for distribution in United States and abroad. Hospitality Mints has called Boone home since 1976 and consistently ranks as the area’s top employer among manufacturers. Presented by Wells Fargo Bank N.A., the award honors Alfred Adams, a local pioneer in the banking industry and one of the charter members of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce.
Wendy Patoprsty of Blue Ridge Conservancy was presented the inaugural Baker-Jones Woman of the Year Award. The Project Director for the Middle Fork Greenway, Patoprsty serves as the lead fundraiser and public relations officer for an effort to create a greenway trail connecting Boone and Blowing Rock. Her grant writing and fundraising work helped raise over 1 million dollars in project funding last year, while identifying opportunities for further economic development along the projected pathway. The award was presented by Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and Blue Ridge Energy in honor of longtime employees Gillian Baker and Susan Jones. Both have served as Board Chair of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce and have a long history of leadership and volunteer service to the organization.
The Dan Meyer Partnership Award was presented to Dr. Scott St. Clair of Blue Ridge Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. The local physician helped organize High Country Recreation, a local non-profit aimed at improving recreational opportunities in Watauga County for all age groups. St. Clair was the public face behind the organization’s information campaign for support of the recently funded Watauga County Recreation Complex project. The award honors former Boone Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Dan Meyer and was sponsored by LifeStore Bank.
The Sue W. Wilmoth Award for the Advancement of Tourism was presented to Michelle Ligon of the Boone and Watauga County Tourism Development Authorities. Ligon serves as Director of P.R. and Social Media and has worked to enhance the online penetration of the ExploreBoone.com brand in addition to conceptualizing numerous tourism engagement programs during her tenure. The award was presented by the Watauga County/Boone TDA and is named in honor of past director and tourism advocate Sue W. Wilmoth.
The everGREEN Award for Leadership in Sustainability was presented to F.A.R.M. Cafe. In its fifth year serving the High Country, F.A.R.M.Cafe provides meals for patrons on a pay-as-you-can basis. Located in the heart of Downtown Boone, the organization provides an atmosphere of inclusion to those who may be experiencing food insecurity. The staff has established farm-to-table relationships with numerous area growers in an effort to locally source as much of the food as possible. The award was presented by Mast General Store.
The Ben Suttle Special Services Award annually celebrates volunteer leadership. The Blood, Sweat, and Gears Organizing Committee was presented the honor for their work in running one of the most popular cycling events in the Southeast United States. Just over 1,200 riders participated in the 19th annual installment of the event, which includes over 8,000 feet of cumulative elevation climb over its three-county route. The group coordinates logistics and volunteer efforts throughout the year and on race day to support the event. The award was sponsored by Greene Construction, Inc in honor of Ben Suttle, a former local merchant, Chamber volunteer, and longtime member of the Boone Town Council.
The Wade Brown Award for Community Involvement was presented to Matt Vincent of VPC Builders. A generous non-profit supporter, Vincent helped raise over $9,000 dollars for this year’s Big Kahuna Fundraiser for the Watauga County Habitat for Humanity. Through his work at VPC Builders, Vincent has been an adamant supporter of Purple Heart Homes, a non-profit business that works to provide housing solutions for service connected disabled veterans. The award has been given annually since 1979, and was presented by Boone Golf Club in honor of Wade Brown, a longtime community pillar and non-profit advocate.
In addition to the annual awards presentation, the 19th class of the Watauga Leadership Challenge was presented with their course completion awards. The Class of 2017 included 24 members that completed a seven month course in leadership development and community emersion. Through their own fundraising efforts, the class presented a check for $2,400 dollars to the Watauga County Sheriff’s Department for use toward bullet-proof vests for the K-9 unit. The class is presented annually by Allen Wealth Management and Johnson, Price, Sprinkle P.A.
The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce installed its executive committee and three new board members for the 2017-18 fiscal year. Jonathan Lubkemann, Senior VP and Market President for BB&T, was installed as Board Chair. Traci Royster, of Appalachian State University was installed as Chair Elect while Chuck Eyler, of the Charles Eyler Nationwide Insurance agency, moves into the Immediate Past Chair role. Larry Byerly will continue as the organization’s treasurer.
Ruthie Nathan, of High Gravity Adventures, Vicki Stevens, of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, and Ron Wilcox, of Samaritan’s Purse, were each installed to three-year board terms.
The evening included a pre-dinner reception, hosted by Appalachian IMG Sports Marketing. Experiential items valuing over $6,800 were donated by chamber members for silent auction, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Watauga County Veterans Memorial Project in Downtown Boone.
If you have questions about the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, contact David Jackson at 828-264-2225 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.