By Lora Scripps
More than 200 people gathered Wednesday in Athens to honor those who help strengthen the community during the annual Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce luncheon held at the Beasley Center.
Chamber President Jennifer Williamson and 2013-2014 Chairman of the Board Kurt Leopard took time to reflect on the past year as well as recognize chamber events and volunteers.
“Athens is a special place for all of us,” Leopard said during his opening remarks.
Athens and Limestone County continues to grow, according to Leopard, who said the area is the third-fastest growing county in the state and the 65th fastest-growing county in the nation.
“Much of this is due to the leadership of our local city, county and state officials and their willingness to move and negotiate industry and developments in our area,” Leopard said. “I’ve been honored to be the chairman of the board for the past year.”
Williamson said it has been a privilege to serve in her capacity as well.
“We have a strong and vibrant chamber here in Limestone County and that is helping to shape the future of our community,” Williamson said. “When you work together great things happen and I continue to see that here in Athens and Limestone County.”
Citizen of the year
Attorney Jim Moffatt was named Citizen of the Year. Moffat was nominated because of his more than 20-year devotion to the success of Poke Sallet Follies. According to the nomination given to the chamber, Moffat has worked tirelessly “behind the scenes” and as a “very popular performer. Moffatt is known for building sets and backdrops for many shows.
He is also a member of various clubs and organizations including Athens Rotary Club, Athens-Limestone Foundation on Aging, Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority, Athens-Limestone Hospital Board, CASA board, Athens-Limestone Hospital Foundation Board and more.
Jackie Greenhaw presented the award.
“It would be impossible for me to tell y’all all the things that this person has done,” Greenhaw said. “The countless hours he has spent in making Limestone County a better place.”
Greenhaw said Moffatt is “tough,” “a tireless worker” who has done so many good things for the community and “a man who will someday leave Athens a better place than he found it.”
Public Servant of the Year
The Public Servant of the Year award, presented by Ali Turner, was given to Lynne Hart, executive director of Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful.
Hart was nominated for her service to the community through KALB. Hart and her crew run the Wacky Quacky 5K, oversee the community garden as well as Tour of Homes, educate the community on recycling, present beautification awards, run the Athens Recycling Center and coordinate Earth Day celebrations.
KALB supports the Chamber of Commerce, Athens Police Department Ordinance officers and LCEDA by keeping sites beautiful.
“This woman and her crew work tirelessly to make our area beautiful,” Turner said.
Business Person of the Year
Business Person of the Year was presented to Whitney Skipworth, a mortgage banker with Reliance Bank and part owner of 306 Barbecue. Circuit Judge Jimmy Woodroof Jr. made the presentation.
The nomination noted he is known as a “hard working” individual and “very successful as a result of his hard work and entrepreneurial spirit.” He is dedicated to helping the community and volunteers’ time and resources. He has even been known to walk in high heels at the Pink Elephant Luncheon to benefit breast cancer awareness, according to the nomination.
Woodroof said three things are essential to be a successful business person in a community — niche, passion and hard work. Woodroof believes Skipworth exemplifies those three essentials.
Other recognitions and awards
The chamber recognized a number of community leaders during the luncheon including chamber members who are celebrating 35 years of membership.
Lakin Collins, who was unable to attend the event, was also recognized for his service. Collins, vice chairman of the BRAC committee from 2006-2014, was given the BRAC Leadership Award for the numerous hours devoted to BRAC in order to promote North Alabama as great place to live, work and play.
Chamber Ambassadors as well as adult and youth leadership participants were also recognized.
The Ambassador of the Year was awarded to David Henry of AWP Roofing.
The Harrison McMains Award, named for a former chamber member, was given to Lisa Norris of WHNT19.
The luncheon included the traditional passing of the gavel from Leopard to Joey Smith, who will serve as chamber board chairperson for 2014-2015.
Board members for 2014-2015 include: Rhonda Andrews, Van Barksdale, Doug Batdorff, Letisha Brinkley, Rob Davis, Kata Gregg, Betsy Harris, Jerrod Hester, Scott Howell, Mark Jackson, Lynn Lane, Tony McCormack, Tommy Marr, Chris Meals, Teresa Pendleton, Lynn Persell, Dr. Diane Sauers, Jerry Schoo, Austin Smith, Josh Smith, Jason Thomas, Teresa Todd, Patrick Townsend, Shelli Waggoner and Melissa Walker.
The board of directors will be comprised of: Joey Smith, chairman; Leah Stephens, chairman-elect; Kurt Leopard, past chairman; and Jennifer Williamson, chamber president.