Chamber honors members at award ceremony


Yadkin Valley Chamber members attend an award luncheon.

STATE ROAD — The Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce honored its 2020 annual awardees at a luncheon April 14 at Cedarbrook Country Club in State Road. The awards ceremony had been delayed due to the pandemic. Attendees dined on a buffet lunch, followed by the award ceremony, which was conducted by master of ceremonies and Chamber President David Steelman.

“Believe it or not we didn’t have a tie anywhere – it was clear cut,” Steelman said of the board’s voting on award nominees.

Awardees were:

— Johnsie Hudspeth Volunteer of the Year Award: Mike Bovender of Surry Maintenance. Bovender is a past chair of the chamber, served on the Yadkin Valley Strong Committee and was a four-time past chair of the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival. He is Assistant Chief of the Elkin Rescue Squad and assists area food pantries.

— Rebel Good Award for tourism promotion: Jessica Jonczak of The Barn at Heritage. Jonczak persisted in promoting the Yadkin Valley during the pandemic, coordinating Easter bunny events for children and visits to nursing homes as well as coordinating a police appreciation event and a wedding expo. “How in the world did she pull this off during Covid?” posited Steelman during the award presentation. “She definitely promoted the Yadkin Valley in tough times.” Steelman added that Jonczak’s husband (Chamber Board Chair John Jonczak) cried while presenting his nomination of his wife for the award.

— Educational Excellence Award: Jordan Sowers of Elkin City Schools. Sowers teaches fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade exceptional children. She is a graduate of Elkin City Schools and of Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory.

— Community Beautification Award: Jim and Marcia Neese of Riverwalk RV Park. The Neeses were new chamber members in 2020 and their business is located in Jonesville next to the Yadkin River. “It’s amazing what they’ve done over there,” Stillman said.

— Innovation Award: James and Severin Garrett of Greenhouse Towers. The Garretts were also new chamber members in 2020 and were awarded the Chamber Member of the Month Award in January 2021. They use aeroponic towers to grow healthy produce, which are available for sale to the public and used by area restaurants.

— Ambassador of the Year Award: Desiree Mastin of Basin Creek Realty. Mastin had the most hours and attendance at chamber events and activities of all ambassadors and is a past winner of the same award in 2019.

— Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award: Warren Bates, Food & Environmental Director for Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital/Sodexo. Bates is the current president of the Yadkin Valley United Fund, serves on the Habitat for Humanity and the Yadkin Valley Rotary Club boards, and is past president of Tri-County Ministries. He was one of seven committee members of the Yadkin Valley Strong movement, which raised $110,000 for families, schools and food banks during the pandemic. He will also be the chairman of the Hugh Chatham Foundation golf tournament this year. This year’s award was presented to Bates by Jimmy Flythe, Duke Energy Director of Government and Community Relations.

— Member of the Year Award: Frontier Natural Gas. Frontier is an active sponsor of many charitable and community organizations in the Yadkin Valley. Frontier is also a “Chamber Champion,” which means the company makes a significant financial contribution to the chamber beyond regular financial dues. “This is the most welcoming community. I’ve been blessed to be here the last seven years and run Frontier Gas,” said President and General Manager Fred Steele, upon accepting the award. “Please stop by Frontier anytime. It’s just a great community. I can’t say enough about everything the Chamber does.”

Lisa Michals may be reached at 336-448-4968 or follow her on Twitter @lisamichals3.

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