By Michael Williams
A capacity crowd of businesspeople and members of the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce filled the Gatlinburg Convention Center Monday night for the annual Meeting and Banquet along with the presentation of the COC awards.
Hosted by WVLT reporter Kyle Grainger, the theme of the annual meeting was “Party Like it’s 1989.” Music from the 1980s, such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, filled the air as chamber members celebrated the evening and a productive year.
The Gatlinburg COC is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and the Gatlinburg Convention Center is marking its 25th anniversary.
Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Helton presented the introductions of COC board members before the presentation of awards to several recipients who were honored for their business standards, volunteerism and ecologic programs instituted within their businesses.
The Spirit of Hospitality Award was presented to Debbie Schultz, owner of Unforgettable Bridal Gown and Tuxedo Rentals. The company rents out wedding gowns and tuxedos to couples taking their nuptials at area chapels. The winner of the award is determined by mail in votes from past customers of area businesses.
Chamber president Logan Coykendall presented three awards for initiatives in ecology and efforts to encourage green policies within their respective businesses.
The Green Champion Award was presented to the Gatlinburg Convention Center for initiating several measures to save energy and produce less waste. Scott Murphy, of the Convention Center, who was responsible for initiating the measures was presented with the Green Innovator Award. Among the initiatives Murphy implemented was installing hand dryers in restrooms, which reduces waste generated from paper towels, and using compact fluorescent bulbs, cutting energy usage, along with enhancing recycling efforts. Crockett’s Breakfast Camp won the Green Newcomer Award.
Toni Flanniken, a volunteer with the Chamber, won the award for Ambassador of the Year. Flanniken has been tireless in her efforts to reach out to new businesses and aid in grand openings. She has attended grand openings and ribbon cuttings and met with business owners to aid in making business events successful.
The Gatlinburg Garden Club presented the Beautification Award to Three Jimmy’s for their landscaping.
The prestigious William C. Stevens Volunteer Spirit Award was awarded to Chuck Winstead for his volunteer work on behalf of the Chamber.
The award for the Zeno Wall, Jr. Tourism Award was presented to Geoffrey Wolpert for his work in acquiring the Arrowmont campus. He won the Chamber’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 2000. Wolpert owns two local restaurants and was a founding board member of Smart Bank.
While presenting the award to Wolpert, Mayor Helton read a proclamation signed by himself and presented by the city. The proclamation praised the recipient for his work in the community, particularly obtaining the Arrowmont campus.
The election of three new board members was announced to replace outgoing board members. Cuykendall is stepping down as the Chamber’s president. Board members Paula Trenton-King and Michael Simones both announced their retirement.
Cuykendall announced the winners of the board’s election of three new members. The three new members that will be taking their seats on the board on Dec. 8 was Dan Booth and Kevin Tierney who both serve at large and Jackelyn Schafer who will serve on the board’s Hotel and Motel Association.
“Logan Coykendall will continue to serve in an advisory capacity on the board,” said Ann Berry of the Gatlinburg Convention Center. “He will serve as a non-voting member. The new members were elected by area business owners and chamber members which total more than 500.”