Chamber business awards given

Published 9:17 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Shown with outgoing Chilton County Chamber of Commerce President Britt Culpepper (fourth from left) are Clanton Advertiser employees Emily Beckett, Scott Mims, Kim McCulla, Justin Averette, Stephen Dawkins, Laura Atkins, Alan Brown and Brandy Clackley. The Advertiser was named the Chamber’s Business of the Year.

Several awards were given out Tuesday night at the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet, including the Business of the Year, Chamber Ambassador of the Year and the Community Spirit Award.

The Clanton Advertiser was the named the Business of the Year. In the past year, the company helped the Chamber launch a new website and monthly newsletter.

The Chamber was considering ways to improve its communication with members when approached by The Advertiser early last year, Chamber President Britt Culpepper said.

“They, too, felt that communication is critical for the Chamber, and they wanted to assist as we strive to get the word out about the Chamber’s mission and its activities,” Culpepper said. “They wanted to help us.”

The monthly newsletter launched in April 2011. The newsletter goes to all Chamber members and is also inserted into the newspaper on the second Sunday of each month.

The Clanton Advertiser is also a platinum-level corporate sponsor of the Chamber as well as a platinum-level sponsor of June’s Peach Jam.

“They are wonderful to this Chamber in terms of coverage of Chamber events. They are continually providing information and pictures that we need to conduct the Chamber’s business,” Culpepper said. “They are a real partner to the Chamber.”


Jimmy Martin was the recipient of the Community Spirit Award. He is shown with Mollie Smelley, secretary/treasurer of the Chamber board.

The Community Spirit Award was given to Jimmy Martin. Chamber secretary/treasurer Mollie Smelley presented the award and talked about how Martin had to take over his family’s business at a young age following the death of his father, Leroy.

“What if you had to give up on the direction you thought your life was headed and take on all these responsibilities at the age of 21? Could you do it?” Smelley asked. “Well, tonight’s Community Spirit Award winner did do it. He grew up in a hurry. We think that action on his part was an example of a spirit of generosity beginning to develop in this very young man.”

Fast-forwarding to today, Smelley said Martin supports many philanthropic endeavors.

“We see the evidence of this characteristic in many facets of his life and in the lives of his family. No family we know of is more generous than they are,” Smelley said. “Whether it’s the March of Dimes, or the United Way, or a blood drive, or the Arthritis Foundation, or any other worthwhile organization you may think of, this family is at the forefront of giving.”

Smelley said Martin has also been generous to the Chamber.

“In 2010, when the Chamber struggled a bit, this person we are honoring tonight came to the rescue. His generosity made the difference,” she said.

Martin also provided a sound system for the Clanton First United Methodist Church’s Helen Parrish Activity Center, where the Chamber holds its luncheons.

“This was a much-needed piece of equipment that benefits the Chamber and its guest speakers greatly, as well as all those who use that facility,” Smelley said.


Helen Blackmon was named the Ambassador of the Year. She is shown with Mike Robertson, Chamber executive director.

Helen Blackmon was honored as the Chamber’s Ambassador of the Year, a new award for this year.

In introducing the award, the Chamber’s Executive Director Mike Robertson said ambassadors serve as “the eyes and ears of the chamber.”

In their role, they serve as official hosts for Chamber events like ribbon cuttings and open houses and help recruit new members.

“As I looked back over 2011, there was one particular face among these ambassadors that seemed to be present every time we cut a ribbon or held a luncheon or sponsored an open house,” Robertson said of Blackmon.