The Franklin Chamber of Commerce held their annual Awards Banquet on Tuesday, Jan. 25 to recognize members of the community who went above and beyond in 2011.
Entertainment for the night included Macon County native Ronnie Evans and the Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps Choir. After dinner Fred Jones, the 2012 President of the Board of Directors, began the award ceremony by presenting Dale West, the 2011 President of the Board of Director’s with a plaque recognizing the dedication and service West gave to the commerce during his tenure.
The first award of the night was presented to the Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps (LBJ) for being voted “Chamber Member of the Year.” According to the nomination letter, LBJ was selected by the Board of Directors for their continuous participation in numerous community projects. In 2011 members of LBJ participated in the annual MPP Easter Egg Hunt in April, Halloween in the Park, the Gem Show, Relay for Life and Highway Clean up Events. Members of LBJ also volunteered at several Macon County Schools heading up projects such as constructing two storage buildings for Franklin High School and building much needed handrails at Macon Middle School.
Franklin Young Professionals (FYP) received the prestigious honor of Club/Organization of the year for their volunteer efforts to support countless organizations in Macon County such as CareNet, Franklin Daybreak Rotary, Folk Heritage Association, and Macon Early College. One of the letters submitted to the Chamber nominating FYP said, “We are delighted to suggest, we as a community, give full tribute to Franklin Young Professionals, as they are a passionate and committed group supporting so many facets within out community.”
This year, the annual Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award was presented to the Cowee Quilters for their efforts to work tirelessly to make quilts to sale and raise money for many community projects such as New Century Scholars. “The Cowee Quilters have contributed more than $25,000 since they began supporting the [New Century Scholars] program so that Macon students may attend Southwestern Community College upon completion of high school,” said a letter submitted to the Chamber to nominate the group.
Fred Jones presented the Citizen(s) of the Year Award to Derek Roland and Kyle Morgan for their volunteer service with the “Live Above the Influence” program. To date, Roland and Morgan have presented the program to all students in grades 6 through 12 in Macon County and have been invited to present the program in Clay and Transylvania Counties this Spring. The pair speak to students and share their personal experiences with consequences resulting from NV drugs or alcohol. Morgan is a 24-year old who wrecked while driving drunk in 2010. After flipping his vehicle five times, he was thrown from the vehicle and broke his neck. As a result of the accident, Morgan became paralyzed from his mid-chest and down. “Students are in awe to watch Kyle maneuver his power wheel chair across the auditorium and proceed to address them about how a single bad decision can change their lives forever,” reads a letter submitted nominating Morgan for the award.
When introducing the award recipients, Jones recalled his first impression of Roland's testimony, the same testimony Roland has shared with students throughout Macon County, and stated that without Roland's testimony Jones would not be the same man he is today. Roland's speaks to his experience in dealing with the death of his brother, Parker Mathis, who was killed in a drunk driving accident in October 2010. He “spoke of his brother’s unconscious body on the hospital gurney, with tubes like outstretched arms. He spoke of his mother’s paralysis with grief and fear, of his grandfather’s tears, and of his sudden realization of the end--as he witnessed the surgeon leave the room and fall sobbing to his knees in the hallway,” said Jones. “When Derek spoke, all was quiet. All were touched. All were strengthened by his strength. I promised to myself I would share this story with my children.”
“I believe it is truly remarkable that both these young men have emerged from such personal tragedies in their own lives with a desire to help our young people,” read a letter received by the Chamber nominating Morgan and Roland.