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GACOC honors notable citizens

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 five 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. Devoted citizen and city employee Milton Luckie received the John D. Murphy award, a recognition reserved for those who have made an incalculably large contribution toward the county’s growth and prosperity.

For 38 years, Luckie has worked for the City of Greenville and has been instrumental in the day-to-day operations of making sure the streets, sanitation, maintenance, and horticulture was second to none in the Camellia City. Presenting Luckie with the award, Mayor Dexter McLendon said,  “He has certainly been a part of the city’s growth and prosperity.” 

Johnson Furniture was awarded the New Business of the Year Award. Devoted to small town business, owner Adam Keith opened the store downtown in 2015.

The L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital received the Distinguished Business of the Year award.

This award was designed to honor local businesses that have demonstrated exceptional business practices and have contributed to the well being of the community. In late 2017, after approval of the city council, the Hospital Authority of the City of Greenville purchased the hospital and entered into a partnership allowing UAB Health Systems to manage the facility and offer their expertise, technology and access to their physicians. CEO Donny Rentfro said, “You shouldn’t be in health care if you do not care about people. We are truly trying to serve the community by offering the best care possible.” Currently, the hospital employs over 200 individuals and provides the best healthcare for the community. The Chamber of Commerce also recognized longtime contributor Charles Newton as the Distinguished Citizen of the Year. This award is an honor in which is bestowed upon an individual that makes a positive impact on the community and its government, and who aims to maintain community projects that support the wellbeing of others. Newton said, “It truly is an honor.” Newton has served the community his entire life in the church, school system, and even on a state level. From 1988-2014, Newton served as representative for Butler County in the House of Representatives and was very instrumental in securing funding for various local projects that positively impacted Greenville and Butler County.

Finally, the Above & Beyond Award was given to Joann Mathews. The Above & Beyond Award was established by the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce to honor individuals for their priceless contributions in volunteerism and service, an individual that demonstrates extraordinary contribution to their community and its citizens. Currently Mathews serves as the Volunteer Coordinator at Southcare Hospice of Greenville. After the awards special guest Steve Flowers spoke, recalling stories of his time spent in Montgomery serving in the House of Representatives. Many of these experiences can be found in his new book, Of Goats & Governors: Six Decades of Colorful Alabama Political Stories. McLendon concluded the program with the State of the City address. McLendon said, “We need to try to figure out what we need to do best for our community. In 2017, we worked really hard on different projects.” Highlighting the purchase of the hospital, Mclendon said, “We’re excited about the opportunity with the hospital.” Looking back on 2017, McLendon remembered Jedo Bell and his legacy. “You do not know what the loss of Bell did to the city council, employees, and myself. He will be missed. He definitely left his stamp on this town.”

McLendon recognized two new city council members, Jimmy Lawson and Morris Thigpen. With the new changes 2018 brings, McLendon emphasized the support and unity needed for local businesses and the community to prosper. “We’ve got to love one another and we have to work together. You cannot let hate divide a community,” said McLendon

One potential new business that could be coming soon to Greenville is Zaxby’s.

“Its in the early stages, we’ve been working on it, Zaxby’s is looking at buying property. We have an engineer working on the roads now,” added McLendon. Everything is still in the planning stages, but overall 2018 appears to be a promising year for the city. McLendon said, “We have a great community, we have some challenges, we’ve got to look at them, but thank you for allowing me to serve in this position.”