The Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet and awards ceremony on Jan. 24 at the new Argiculture and Education building. Following the meal, a number of local citizens were recognized for their work in the county.
The Volunteerism Award was presented to Debbie Cooper. Cooper has been instrumental in the success of many of Boonville’s events. It was noted that she is the first to arrive to set up for events and the last to leave as she ensures clean-up is completed. Cooper serves as both secretary and treasurer for the Boonville Business & Downtown Development Association, Inc. and is also a member of the Yadkin County Tourism Development Authority. She also manages a successful campground business.
The Entrepreneurial Award was presented to the Alpha and Omega Corn Maze, a joint venture of Jason and Lori Walker and Van and Jennifer Hemric. The Walkers saw a corn maze while on vacation and set their sights on opening their own. The Walkers shared the idea with farmer Van Hemric, who owns a 20-acre parcel of land on Old Highway 421 near the intersection of U.S. 421 and I-77 in Yadkin County. It was decided that it was a ideal for a six-acre corn maze, and a business partnership between the Walkers and Hemrics was born in 2013.
The Alpha and Omega Corn Maze features a corn and hay bale maze, corn box, bounce pillow, hayrides, horse-drawn wagon rides, pumpkin cannon, animal acres, pipe slides, barrel racing, and a concession stand. The maze is open in the fall from the second weekend in September until the first weekend in November. The maze is open the Saturday before Easter for a Helicopter Egg Drop.
Marty Driver was recognized with the Leadership Award. Over the course of her 40-year working career, Driver has served others in many ways including: volunteering her time and talent; hands-on care for patients; leadership and administrative roles; fundraiser; business owner; consultant; mother; wife; and flight attendant. As director of patient services for the Yadkin Hospice Program with Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care, she has driven development of a hospice inpatient facility for Yadkin County.
The Impact Award was presented to Surry Community College President Dr. David Shockley. It was noted that Shockley has worked determinedly since 2012 to enhance the educational opportunities for the citizens of Yadkin County. The results of his dedication became evident in 2016 as programming began in the Yadkin Agriculture and Education Building that will allow the citizens of Yadkin County to complete a transfer degree without leaving Yadkin County. He was also instrumental in bringing an Industrial Training center to Yadkin County, which was approved in 2016 by the Surry Community College Board of Trustees and will break ground in early 2017. The vision that he had early in his tenure at Surry Community College of transforming the Yadkin Center into an actual campus is well on its way to becoming a reality.
The Steering Committee of the Yadkin County Lego Robotics League, including original members Tommy Dorsett, Dr. Todd Martin, Dr. David Shockley and current committee Chairman Kevin Austin, was presented with the Chairman’s Award. In 2014, a small group of concerned Yadkin County business and education professionals began discussing ways to get elementary and middle school students excited about developing skills for 21st century jobs — strong communications, critical and creative thinking, problem solving, and collaboration, along with a comfort level with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Early in 2015, an official steering committee was formed to bring the FIRST Lego League to Yadkin County, and the first competition was held in the spring of 2015, with 10 teams, representing each elementary and middle school. This past November, the third competition was held, and the program has grown to 14 teams, and plans are underway to form advanced high school teams.
Kevin Austin also received the Duke Energy Citizenship & Service Award.
Yadkin County Farmer of the Year Award was presented to Smith Farms.
A plaque was presented to outgoing Chairman Nathan Lewis. The new chairman is David Nance, representing Gentry Family Funeral Service. Vice Chair and Chair Elect is Mitzie Branon, representing Yadkin Valley Telephone. Secretary and Treasurer, serving a three-year term, will be Nolan G. Brown, Triad Group.
Continuing board members are Nathan Lewis, Kim Harrell, Colleen Church, Eddie Norman, Tim Doub, Dr. Todd Martin, Rusty Crissman and Kevin Austin. Outgoing board members were Jay Martin, Tim Parks, Sam Williams and Jerry Smith.