Comedian Mickey Dean headlined the event and provided plenty of laughs for the crowd at J. Craig Smith Community Center. The man billed as “Alabama’s number one corporate entertainer since 1993” gave his take on shopping, family and a variety of other topics.
He also issued a warning for people thinking of getting off the interstate to drive through the countryside.
“Don’t do that y’all, there are weird people,” he said.
He talked about getting detoured on one road trip and ending up “in the middle of the woods.”
“I said ‘I’ll see somebody or there will be a store,” Dean said. “Red dirt and pine trees for hours y’all. I thought the rapture had come, took y’all and left me.”
The chamber board decided this year’s theme would be “Harvesting the Rewards of Chamber Membership.”
They honored several businesses and individuals with awards for the evening, beginning with the Police Officer and Firefighter of the Year.
Police Chief Louis Zook presented the award to Investigator Willis Whatley, and Fire Lt. Adam Gardner received the award from Lt. Jon Williams.
Zook said the awards were special to the people of both departments because they recognized not only the efforts of the two individuals, but the efforts of each officer who served the community.
“These officers serve in the capacity that others do not want anything to do with,” he said. “They are the first to be called in times of trouble. It is through their commitment and dedication to duty that we are able to live, work and play in a safe community.”
Chamber director Carol Emlich-Bates also recognized Police Sgt. Tommy Allen, who continues to recover from a traffic collision while on-duty July 5. Allen and his wife, Dina, received a standing ovation from the audience.
Businesses were recognized as well with honors voted on by members of the Chamber. This year’s “Rod Emlich Outstanding New Business Award” was awarded to Fort Williams Pharmacy and “George W. Carr Outstanding Established Business Award” was given to Curtis and Son Funeral Home.
Representatives of Home Depot of Sylacauga received the “Dr. Edward Gantt Industry of the Year Award.”
Jim Heigl received the “Citizen of the Year Award” and Lucille Anderson won the “Best Friend of the Chamber Award.” Emlich-Bates said Anderson had “been at the front” promoting Sylacauga and the Chamber for many years.
Anderson said she was surprised by the award, and thought they invited her to the banquet to help set up.
“They told me to make sure I was here tonight,” she said. “When I got here, I thought they had me here to light candles.”
Hickory Street Café catered the event. The Chamber board thanked everyone who participated in putting the event together, including the Parks and Recreation Department, 2010-2011 Chamber Ambassadors, students of Sylacauga High School and several clubs and freelancers.