Annual Jackson County Chamber banquet deemed huge success

    Pictured (L-R): Executive Director Tiffany Garling, City Manager Jim Dean, keynote speaker Danny Lipford, form mayor/councilman Paul Donofor and EEOC board member Mickey Gilmore

    Last Thursday night, the parking lot at RCC (Rivertown Community Church) was filled to capacity. The occasion was the annual Jackson County Chamber of Commerce banquet. It’s an election year so candidates and constitutional officers were in attendance along with citizens eager to learn who would be the Citizen of the Year. The other ‘drawing card’ and perhaps on the minds of everyone was Marianna’s own Danny Lipford, the scheduled keynote speaker for the evening.
    Chamber Executive Director Tiffany Garling welcomed everyone and introduced Anna Wescoat who entertained the crowd while they dined on their meal.
    Garling then recognized Florida Public Utilities represented by Mason Brock from as a Presenting Sponsor. Platinum Sponsors were Anderson Columbia represented by Gene Strickland, Donofro Architects represented by Paul Donofro, Jr., Jackson County Times represented by Woodrow Hatcher and Shelia Mader, Rex Lumber represented by Rod Peters, and Ten8Life represented by Mr. and Mrs. Art Kimbrough. Gold Sponsors were Chipola College, Dr. Sarah Clemmons, David H. Melvin, Inc, David Melvin, Enviva, Wade Cotton and Jackson Hospital, Jim Platt.
    The presentation of awards began with the Leadership Jackson County Graduates Awards:
    Mason Brock – Florida Public Utilities, Logan Chappell – Farm Credit of Northwest Florida, Angie Cozart – Rivertown Community Church, Suzan Gage – Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida, Cheri Gilmore – CareerSource Chipola, Rocky Harrison – 90 Works, Ryan Hughes – David H. Melvin Engineering, Angela Jackson – Jackson County Chamber / QLM, Angela Klopf – United Way of Northwest, Florida, Clint Logan – Rivertown Community Church, Cameron Oliver – North Florida Financial, Amanda Parrish – First Federal Bank, Hunter Potts – Jackson County BOCC, Jennifer Thomas – Jackson County BOCC, Leland Thomas – Winn Dixie, Karlyn Tidwell – Jackson County BOCC, Rex Torbett – Jackson Hospital, Clint Watson – City of Marianna, Paige White – Chipola College.
    The Leadership Jackson County Excellence in Leadership Award went to Carmen Smith Gammons. Carmen was nominated for the leadership she has shown in housing recovery since Hurricane Michael. At the tender age of 25, Carmen Smith began leading an important organization in Jackson County. In July of 2014, she took over as Executive Director at Habitat for Humanity. Habitat volunteers have helped dozens of low-income families build affordable homes over the years, with the families paying back the costs of the home with a zero interest mortgage agreement with Habitat for Humanity. In August 2016, she completed the merger of Jackson and Washington Counties to create the Chipola Area Habitat for Humanity which allowed for lower administrative costs and more housing to be built. Since Hurricane Michael, she has worked tirelessly to obtain funding to rebuild housing in Jackson County while managing a multitude of volunteers that have arrived since the storm.
    Outgoing Chamber Chairman Tyler Lipford presented The Arthur L. Kimbrough Board Member of the Year Award. That award is presented to the Board Member who has exhibited excellent Leadership Qualities as well as going above and beyond to advance the mission of the Chamber. The 2019 Arthur L. Kimbrough Board Member of the Year is Emily Lowe.
    In addition to her role on the Chamber Board for the last 3 years Emily has been an integral part of our Annual Farm City Celebration serving on the Scholarship Committee and Children’s Activity Committee. Emily has been a strong proponent of Professional Development for Chamber Staff and a driving force in our strategic planning efforts.
    Over the last 40 years the Chamber has recognized individuals who have prominently participated in civic endeavors with a clear, discernable positive impact on the citizens of Jackson County. These endeavors must have influenced or aided in the advancement of a community ideal, such as education, charity, civic cooperation, beautification, patriotism, etc.
    For the 2019 Citizen of the Year not one, but two very deserving individuals who have made a profound impact in Jackson County and specifically in Marianna’s West End but in their very own distinct ways, were honored. Both recipients are icons with larger than life personalities, they both talk a little fast and are no strangers to getting their way. Vicki Fuqua and Jorge Garcia are your 2019 Citizens of the Year.
    Dustin Miller accepted on behalf of Jorge Garcia who was absent battling the flu.
    Danny Lipford, America’s Home Improvement Expert was met with a standing ovation when introduced. As host of the Emmy-nominated, nationally-syndicated “Today’s Homeowner” TV and Radio Shows, Podcast and the destination website, he delivers fresh, practical and trusted advice for maintaining and improving homes. He has never forgotten his roots and was quick to return to Jackson County following Hurricane Michael. Lipford talked of childhood memories with friends here and present at the banquet.
    In making his announcement of a gift to Jackson County in hopes of helping to rebound from the devastation of Hurricane Michael, Lipford said, “I have been wanting to offer a media gift to my hometown for a long time. My offer is basically: I will provide a $50,000 media gift that will include: An entire episode of my national TV show, Today’s Homeowner, will be taped in Marianna before the end of this year. It is planned to be a community service style show and will involve many members of the community. More details will be announced later. My video production company, three Echoes Productions, will produce a national level 30 second TV commercial touting the beauty and charm of Marianna and Jackson County. This commercial will air national numerous times on Today’s Homeowner TV show that reaches over 2 million people every week. This commercial will also be available to others to post on social media and other media platforms. The social media team at Today Homeowner Media will post extensively about this effort. Also, I hope to have a “Wrap Party” gathering of some type to involve more of the community.”
    Following his announcement, Lipford was totally taken off guard when he was the object of attention prior to his leaving the stage. City Manager Jim Dean, long-time friends Mickey Gilmore and Paul Donofro, Jr., and Executive Director Tiffany Garling presented Lipford a commemorative “Key to Marianna.” A very surprised Lipford was almost at a loss for words but expressed his deep appreciation for the key to his hometown.


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