The Gordon County Chamber of Commerce celebrated 2019 and turn its attention to 2020 as hundreds attended the organization’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday at Belmont Baptist Church.

During the lunch event, Paul Worley, now the past chair of the chamber’s Board of Directors, recognized sponsors and members before Brandy Hayes and Peter Coombe presented the Business Commitment to Education Award to AdventHealth Gordon.

In presenting the award, Hayes lauded the hospital’s contributions to and support of area schools and various programs, and she noted plans for an urgent care location on the campus of Calhoun High and Middle Schools.

Worley presented plaques to retiring board members and then shared a slideshow with the crowd detailing some of the chamber’s accomplishments this year. Programs he highlighted included groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings, Lunch and Learns, State of Industry, a golf tournament, Teacher of the Year awards, the Leadership Calhoun-Gordon and Youth Leadership programs, the hiring of a new director for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Amazing Grace fundraiser to benefit the Voluntary Action Committee, the BBQ, Boogie and Blues event, gift boxes delivered to senior citizens, scholarships for students, a candidate’s forum, and more.

“There was much more than this that occurred through the year, but it’s hard to get it all into a short slideshow,” Worley said.

Next, Worley presented the Chairman’s Award to Sharon Hurt Alexander, who spent more than 40 years working with the chamber. Worley described Alexander as swift and sweet, noting that the always has a smile on her face and always says to leave the world a better place. He said she served the chamber and the community tirelessly.

“Congratulations, Sharon,” Worley said. “No one deserves the honor more than you.”

As he final act as chair of the board, Worley introduced 2020 board president Julie Walraven and passed the gavel.

Walraven, senior vice president and market executive with First Bank of Calhoun, said she looks forward to bringing her vision to the chamber and noted that one of the major projects she looks forward to taking is a facilities plan and action campaign. She said the chamber building on South Wall Street is in need of updates and renovations.

“We know we can do more together,” Walraven said. “Let’s roll up our sleeves and see how we can help.”

Walraven also installed six new board members: Wesley Alexander, Starr-Mathews Insurance; Scope Denmon, Boys & Girls Club of Gordon, Murray and Whitfield Counties; Jim Dodd, Dodd Machine and Tool Inc.; Kimberly Fraker, Gordon County Schools; Karen Jones, LG Hausys Americas Inc.; and Jeremy Kirby, Meadowdale Baptist Church.

The six new board members join Steve Bayzid (Taco House) Jennifer Dudley (Harris Arts Center), Tracy Farriba (AdventHealth Gordon), Will Harrison (Mannington Commercial), Brandi Hayes (Calhoun City Schools), Brent Reynders (M&S Logistics), Chris Tarpley (Shaw Industries Group), Julie Walraven (First Bank of Calhoun) and Debbie Vance (Gordon County E-911). Farriba will serve as vice-chair of the board and Tarpley will serve as secretary-treasurer, joining Walraven, Worley, and Johnson to form the chamber’s executive board.

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