Chamber announces community award winners

Published 12:57 pm Monday, January 30, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/Senior Staff Writer

CLANTON— Chilton County Chamber of Commerce announced this year’s award winners at its annual banquet on Jan. 27.

Realty South of Clanton received the Business of the Year Award. The Chilton County Health Care Authority received the Community Spirit Award.

“Our business of the year is a long-time member of the Chamber and is home to a board member and several Chamber Ambassadors,” Van Forrester, Chamber board member, said.

He said the real estate agents are also active in the community outside of Chamber-related events.

In 1995, the Clanton office had two agents. Today, the company has 25 agents.

“Last year the local office closed more than $50 million in real estate sales, and has consistently represented annually with top producers around the state,” Forrester said.

He said the company has a “commitment to integrity and excellence.”

“I just want to say thank you to the Chamber. They are a wonderful tool to help all of us. I appreciate it,” Patty Bingham, broker for the Clanton office, said.

Connie Bainbridge presented the Community Spirit Award to the Chilton County Health Care Authority.

“They have changed healthcare in Chilton County through thoughtful and committed work,” Bainbridge said.

She said each of the members is “a servant at heart.”

“They accepted the challenge of addressing the health care issues of this county. They spent many hours away from their families, away from their businesses and professions. They put a lot of things on hold to answer a call,” Bainbridge said.

Authority member Ken Patterson attributed the successful opening of the new hospital to the one percent sales tax increase, having a willing seller of land and St. Vincent’s willingness to have a location in Chilton County.

“We appreciate this award and we want to thank the Chamber and we want to thank the people of Chilton County,” Patterson said. “We are looking forward to bigger and better things in the future of the hospital.”

An unexpected third award was also announced.

“I am very pleased to present this special award for Outstanding Public Service,” Janice Hull, Chamber executive director, said.  “This is the first year we have done this and it won’t be the last. It will not be an annual award. This is reserved for special circumstances.”

Hull presented the award to

Rhonda Hardesty recently retired after 18 years as the Chilton County district judge

in public office

“Rhonda has a history of doing things for the first time,” Hull said. “While she was teaching at Jemison High, Rhonda Hardesty started the first girls’ varsity basketball team, and went all the way to the state playoffs. After going to law school, Rhonda earned her Juris Doctor and she became the first female president of the Chilton County Bar Association.”

Hull thanked Hardesty for her dedication to the county.

“This county has been wonderful to live in. You do not know how much I appreciate the opportunity to serve as your judge, and to be able to be healthy and be able to tell you I am still here to help you in any way that I can,” Hardesty said. “Thank you, thank you very much.”

Also during the banquet, the Chamber installed two new board members, listened to yearly reports and heard from 2017 Chamber President Jason Calhoun.