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Chamber Banquet highlights community standouts

Calvin Poole, left, presented Archie Woodruff with the Distinguished Citizen of the Year award during Thursday’s Chamber of Commerce banquet. (Cecil Folds | Greenville Advocate)

Calvin Poole, left, presented Archie Woodruff with the Distinguished Citizen of the Year award during Thursday’s Chamber of Commerce banquet. (Cecil Folds | Greenville Advocate)

It was a night of giving during the annual Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet, held at LBW’s Wendell Mitchell Conference Center Thursday evening.

For four special recipients, it was recognition of a job well done in various capacities and industries.

For others, it was the award of a permanent, if not new, position with the City.

Butler County Schools superintendent Amy Bryan was given the John D. Murphy award, a recognition reserved for those who have made an incalculably large contribution toward the county’s growth and prosperity.

Greenville mayor Dexter McLendon called Bryan “a breath of fresh air,” noting her several contributions to the county’s school system well before her ascension to the superintendent position—most notably Bryan’s refinancing of a bond that netted Butler County more than $3 million in savings that ultimately funded the replacement of buildings at W.O. Parmer Elementary School and McKenzie School.

“You deserve it,” McLendon said.

“We thank you for what you’ve done, and we understand that public education is extremely important.”

Don Daniels of Dunklin and Daniels Funeral Home accepted the Distinguished Business award.

Dunklin and Daniels Funeral Home has served more than 1,800 families since taking over the business in 2004, all while supporting a multitude of local organizations, groups and events.

“This is an honor,” Daniels said in front of an adoring audience of family and friends.

“It’s a great honor to be here tonight.  I do want to thank you all for your many prayers and support.

“It’s been wonderful working with the chamber throughout the years, and we look forward to the many years to come.”

American Family Care received the New Business of the Year award.

The clinic, which staffs 11 members from Butler and Crenshaw counties, aims to become even more involved throughout the community in 2017.

The Chamber of Commerce also recognized longtime contributor Archie Woodruff as Distinguished Citizen of the Year.

McLendon also thanked the many civil servants working at the behest of citizens, noting that he wanted Greenville to become “the Chick-fil-A of cities in the state of Alabama.”

In addition to thanking the various workers across municipalities in Greenville, McLendon also acknowledged interim city clerk Dee Blackmon and interim fire chief Tim Warrick, as well as their families—who, with varying degrees of secrecy, surprised their loved ones at the banquet to accompany some rather surprising news.

“We want you to know tonight that you’re not going to be interim for very long,” McLendon said.

He added that Blackmon and Warrick’s official appointment to city clerk and fire chief respectively would be made official during the next city council meeting.

During McLendon’s State of the City address, he downplayed the significance of long-rumored businesses such as Zaxby’s making its way to the Camellia City in favor of three dire needs that must be addressed—the city’s infrastructure, education and health care.

McLendon said that a proper and educated workforce and a hospital were among the most important draws for prospective businesses coming to the Camellia City.

“We have got to take workforce development to LBW,” McLendon said.  “We have to make sure we have a workforce for people interested in coming to Greenville.

“And the city will do whatever we have to to make sure our hospital is successful.  Rural hospitals are closing all over the state. They’re having the same problems in Eufaula, Troy, and Opp.  We have that challenge, too.  We are meeting with other people who will hopefully invest in the community so that we can have the type of hospital you have to have.  We feel confident right now that we have a plan we’ve been working on for several months.”

McLendon added that his plan could potentially involve other hospitals becoming a part of the Butler County area.

“This situation with infrastructure, schools and hospitals is a lot more important than Zaxby’s,” McLendon added.

“We have the greatest opportunity of being in the right place at the right time.  Things are looking up and turning, but we’ve got to do something about those.”