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Winter Banquet to laud business, community leaders

By Sam Pierce

This article was published January 8, 2018 at 9:27 a.m.

— The 45th annual Greater Bryant Chamber of Commerce Winter Banquet, presented by Everett Buick GMC, will take place from 6-8 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Center at Bishop Park.

“Honestly, last year was a huge success,” said Todd Rhoden, president and CEO of the chamber. “This year, we have added another category — Excellence in Customer Service.

“So basically, we have two new awards, and we also have an additional Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Registration for the event is $50 for individual members and $55 for nonmembers. A Table of eight can be purchased for $375. To reserve your seats, call (501) 847-4702 or info@bryantchamber.com. Rhoden said the tickets must be purchased by Jan. 24. Supporting sponsors are Arvest Bank; BluStream Media, LLC; Middleton Heat & Air; and Snell Prosthetics & Orthotics. Vibrant Occasions Catering will provide the sit-down meal.

“We are changing up the theme a little bit and are going with a more black-and-white color scheme,” he said. “The videos are going to be a little more clean looking, and we have hired an emcee for the event.

“Last year was my first year, and I did a lot of the talking. This year, we are going to focus more on Scott [Inman] and the award winners.”

Inman, who will serve as emcee, is a former KATV 7 news anchor and a current Razorback football reporter for KARK 4.

Rhoden said there are nine categories this year.

“We send out a nomination form to our entire membership, and they fill out the form and send it back,” he said. “We have nine different categories, and they will write the company name and the award that they want them nominated for.

“Then our nomination committee — a third party here at the chamber — goes through the different forms, and they select the finalists and eventual winner.”

All the winners were interviewed for a minute video clip explaining why they think they won; then at the banquet, they will be presented with the physical award. Rhoden said all the nominees will be recognized at the Jan. 18 Highlight Bryant luncheon.

“These [nominees] are selected by their peers,” Rhoden said. “Chick-fil-A is nominated because everybody knows they have excellent customer service, and the Saline County Young Professionals have really grown their membership.

“Their peers nominate these people (or businesses) for what they see fit. But in general, the people who are nominated are going to be leaders in the community and active in different organizations.”

Rhoden said the nominees are usually selected not just because of one specific achievement, but for an accumulation of what they do year-round for the community.

“All these people are great and wonderful, but what I really like is the Lifetime Achievement Award,” Rhoden said. “It’s someone who has been in the community 20, 30 or 40 years.

“Not only have they been successful in business, but have also impacted the lives of kids and the chamber. They’ve given back so much over an extended period of time.

“To see them win an award onstage and see them recognized is a great feeling.”

Rae Ann Fields, former executive director of the Greater Bryant Chamber of Commerce, was selected for last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Rhoden said her 17-year involvement in the economic development of the area was part of the reason she was selected.

“I also really like the New Member of the Year Award,” Rhoden said. “It highlights someone who has jumped in right away to make the chamber stronger and the community stronger.”

Nominees for this year’s winter banquet include the following:

New Member of the Year

Healthcare Express

Dave & Busters

Baldwin and Shell

Volunteer of the Year

Robbie Holland

Cheryl Cook

Kari Beasley

Mike McKenzie

Young Professional of the Year

Lacey Brooks

Ashley Rowland

Lea Canady

Josh Patterson

Shelby McFarland

Kari Beasley

Shelli Poole

Organization of the Year

Civitan Services

CASA

Bryant Boys & Girls Club of Saline County

Young Professionals Network

Lifetime Achievement

David Hannah

Cheryl Cook

Charles Penfield

Excellence in Customer Service

The Saline Courier

Empire Cheer

First Security Bank

Lifeline Chiropractic

David’s Burgers

Chick-fil-A

Expose Marketing

Crossroads Wine and Spirits

McCauley Services

Eat My Catfish

Bryant Parks and Recreation

Business of the Year

First Security Bank

Fisher Development

Baxley-Penfield-Moudy Realtors

Jamey South State Farm

Empire Cheer

Everett Buick GMC

Ambassador of the Year

Kari Beasley

Ashley Rowland

Robbie Holland

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or spierce@arkansasonline.com.

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