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Chamber Celebrates Community at 75th Annual Banquet

CALHOUN COUNTY, FL – The Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 75th annual banquet on Thursday, March 28th at the W.T. Neal Civic Center. This event, a long-standing tradition in Calhoun County, brought together chamber members, local leaders, and community partners to celebrate the vibrant spirit of our community and honor those who contribute to its success.

The evening commenced with a patio reception featuring the Sip Society mobile beverage service, followed by a delightful dinner prepared by the BHS culinary program under the direction of Samantha Price Taylor. Dinner was served by the BHS Class of 2024.

Each year, the chamber invites the public to nominate individuals, businesses, and organizations for the CalCo Community Awards, which are presented during the annual banquet. This year, the chamber received a record 90 nominations. The final recipients were selected by a distinguished panel of community and business leaders from chambers of commerce across the country.

Chamber of Commerce Board President Johanna Plummer presented the Cracker Jack Award to Benjamin Walden and Chad Phillips, co-owners of Avenue Design Studio and Calhoun Coffee Co. This award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional creativity, leadership, and enthusiasm in promoting and advancing our community.

“This year’s recipients truly embody the spirit of the Cracker Jack Award,” Plummer said. “By combining their considerable talent with hard work, they’ve contributed to the growth and prosperity of Calhoun County over the last year.”

Their entrepreneurial spirit has not only created jobs but also enriched the social fabric of our community. Since its recent opening, Calhoun Coffee Co. has quickly become a beloved gathering spot, offering not just exceptional coffee but also a warm and inviting atmosphere where locals and visitors alike can connect.

Their enthusiasm is evident in their constant stream of exciting ideas and willingness to roll up their sleeves and bring them to life. Together, Walden and Phillips have become indispensable assets to Calhoun County, embodying the very essence of creativity, generosity, and community spirit.

Blountstown Fire Chief Ben Hall, who serves on the chamber’s board of directors, presented the Volunteer of the Year Award to the Four Mile Creek Committee. This award celebrates individuals or groups who have unselfishly given their time, energy, and resources to benefit the citizens in Calhoun County.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, this group of dedicated volunteers played a pivotal role in the restoration and enhancement of Four Mile Creek Park, a beloved recreational area in the Carr/Clarksville community. They worked tirelessly to restore and improve the park, adding new amenities such as handicap swings, additional lighting, and play equipment.

Their efforts have not only revitalized the park but have also enriched the lives of their community. From organizing events like Trunk or Treat and Santa pictures to providing school supplies and hosting community benefits, the Four Mile Creek Committee has continuously demonstrated their commitment to serving others.

Their dedication to the beautification and maintenance of Four Mile Creek Park showcases their unwavering passion for preserving community spaces for future generations to enjoy.

Chamber Board Vice Chair Al Bryant presented the Above & Beyond Award to Triple J Plumbing. The Above & Beyond Award recognizes those who consistently go the extra mile, exceed expectations, and demonstrate an exceptional commitment to serving their community. This award celebrates those who not only excel in their field but also dedicate themselves to making a positive impact on others’ lives.

Triple J Plumbing, owned by father and son Larry Thomas and John Hughes, has consistently demonstrated a remarkable level of dedication and service to our community. From providing prompt and trustworthy plumbing services to offering support and assistance to those in need, Triple J Plumbing embodies the spirit of going above and beyond.

They have not only excelled in their business but have also contributed to various community organizations, sponsored local sports teams, and most significantly, provided free plumbing services to the elderly, churches, and low-income families.

Their exemplary work ethic, integrity, and compassion have earned them the respect and admiration of all who have had the privilege of working with them.

Chamber Executive Director Lauren Pasqualone presented Rivertown Community Church Pastor Dustin Malphurs with the Mr. Dependable Award in recognition of his unwavering dedication, selflessness, and reliability as a board member.

His steadfast presence, calm demeanor, and proactive approach have kept programs and events running smoothly even when the unexpected happens behind-the-scenes.

Pasqualone emphasized Malphurs’ support has been invaluable in her inaugural year at the chamber:

“Dustin’s contributions, though often unseen, have been pivotal in shaping our Chamber’s success. Tonight, we honor him with a special recognition – the Mr. Dependable Award, recognizing his exceptional commitment to the chamber and our community.” 

Johanna Plummer returned to honor Wendy Eubanks with the Rock Star Award. Under Director Eubanks leadership, the Calhoun County Library System has undergone a remarkable evolution, marked by a host of groundbreaking initiatives and improvements. In just two years, Wendy has orchestrated significant enhancements that have left an impact on library visitors and residents alike.

One of Wendy’s notable achievements lies in the expansion and diversification of the library’s collection, ensuring that residents have access to a wide array of new and popular titles. Beyond books, she has revitalized children’s programming, fostering early literacy and social skills development while boosting attendance and engagement. Wendy’s innovative spirit shines through initiatives like the creation of a seed library and partnerships with organizations like Second Harvest to provide vital nutritional programs to the community.

Her vision extends beyond the library’s walls, as evidenced by her efforts to promote literacy county-wide. Collaborating with the Dolly Parton Foundation, she initiated a transformative literacy program, empowering residents of all ages to cultivate a love for reading. Wendy’s strategic partnerships with the Calhoun County School District further amplify the impact of these initiatives, ensuring that every member of the community has access to educational resources and opportunities.

Former Chamber Executive Director Kristy Terry made a special appearance to bestow the Pioneer Award to Jon and Johanna Plummer for their decades of dedicated service, unwavering commitment to community growth, and relentless pursuit of preserving Calhoun County’s heritage.

For over 20 years, Jon and Johanna have been pillars of the community, serving with distinction through their pharmacy, Blountstown Drugs. Recognizing a crucial need for mental health care in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael and the COVID-19 pandemic, Jon and Johanna demonstrated their entrepreneurial spirit by founding Panhandle Therapy Center. Their initiative has provided vital support to individuals in need, highlighting their proactive approach to addressing community challenges.

In their most recent endeavor, Jon and Johanna embarked on the ambitious task of renovating a deteriorating 1950s motel, breathing new life into the historic structure and unveiling The Calhoun Roadside Motor Lodge. Their restoration project not only revitalized a piece of local history but also generated excitement and rejuvenated community pride.

As entrepreneurs, community leaders, and champions of Calhoun County’s heritage, Jon and Johanna Plummer embody the essence of the Pioneer Award. Their visionary approach to embracing progress while preserving the county’s rich heritage reflects their profound understanding of the delicate balance between progress and tradition.

County Extension Agent Daniel Leonard presented the final award of the evening — Citizen of the Year — to Sharon Leonard McCrone. McCrone embodies the very essence of citizenship through her unwavering commitment to the betterment of our county and its residents.

Her journey of service spans decades. As an esteemed educator within the Calhoun County School District for over 30 years, she’s touched the lives of countless students, instilling in them the values of perseverance, integrity, and compassion.

Her civic engagement and leadership have been instrumental in driving positive change throughout our county. She has been an active participant in numerous community organizations. Most recently she has played a pivotal role in spearheading initiatives to breathe new life into our historic downtown.

Her notable endeavor “Saving Downtown Blountstown” exemplifies her tireless commitment to preserving our community’s heritage while embracing progress. She has led efforts to revitalize key downtown buildings, ensuring that our historic district remains a vibrant hub of activity and commerce for generations to come.

Her exemplary leadership and love for Calhoun County serve as an inspiration to us all, reminding us of the profound impact one individual can have on the lives of many.

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