By Mike Moore
2:35 PM EST, February 13, 2013
Nearly 500 members of the Jessamine County business community turned out for the annual chamber-of-commerce awards dinner Jan. 24 at the R.J. Corman Railroad Hangar off U.S. 27.
Chamber director Amy Cloud said the annual awards dinner is the organization’s highlight event.
“Most definitely the premier event of the year,” Cloud said. “It’s the night that we celebrate our community, our businesses and our volunteers. It's when people from all corners of the community can come together, network, and celebrate.”
During the dinner, many individuals and businesses received awards. Those included:
• Business of the Year — Sam’s Club
• Hall of Fame — Dave Latham
• President’s Award — school resource officers Jacob Jones, James "Griff" Howard, Billy King, and Sam Wade
• Civic Award — Rob Amburgey
• Industry Award — Kentucky Underground Storage, Inc.
• Service Award — Connie Sunda
• Small Business — Horne Engineering
• Business Leader of the Year — Geri Polvino
• New Business — S&S Tire Brannon Crossing
• Ambassador of the Year — Cathy Lowe
The award winners are determined by a board appointed by the 2012 chamber president and Jessamine County Schools superintendent Lu Young, Cloud said.
“They talk with other chamber members and bring nominations to the table,” Cloud said. “The committee discusses and then votes on the winners. They are then given to the chamber staff but kept a secret from the community until awards night.”
Young gave the president’s award to four Nicholasville police officers who make up the school-resource-officer (SRO) program.
“I settled on the SRO program for the President’s Award before the Newtown, Conn., incident,” Young said. “I spent some time thinking about possible awardees from a community (and) chamber perspective and quickly determined that the SRO program was the right choice. What I am particularly proud about is the fact that the program idea came to us from (Nicholasville) Mayor (Russ) Meyer, not from us to the community. I think that is significant because our SRO program is truly a community-wide, intergovernmental collaboration. To me, it represents the will of Jessamine County to protect its children and its schools, and every government is willing to contribute resources to make that happen.”
Young said the SRO program is an invaluable resource for Jessamine County.
“It would be hard to oversell the importance that the SRO program has as part of our school and district culture,” she said. “As individual officers and as a collective whole, they have become an essential part of our work, and our school administrators rely heavily on them for so many supports and skills.”
The Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce has 500 members, including 62 new members added in 2012.
Cloud said going forward in 2013, the chamber has defined goals it is seeking to meet. Those goals include:
• Expand the level of service provided to (chamber) members and help them expand their business.
• Work with other community organizations on establishing a new community center.
• Maintain the financial health of the organizations and plan for the future.
• Develop the CORE (Community OutREach) program to reach out to the less fortunate in Jessamine County and find ways to improve their lives, which will benefit not only those in need, but also the business community itself and Jessamine County as a whole.
For more information on the Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce, visit www.jessaminechamber.com.