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WNC Business

Henderson County Chamber of Commerce hosts 100th Annual Dinner & Awards

Jan 29, 2023 05:05PM ● By Randee Brown

The Henderson County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 100th Annual Dinner and Awards on Thursday, Jan 26, celebrating a milestone year as well as acknowledging outstanding individuals, businesses, and organizations for their contributions to the community in and around Hendersonville.

Awards and their recipients include:

  • Ambassador of the Year - Cindy Novak, Commercial Accounts Manager at Horizon Heating and Air Conditioning
  • Small Business Leader - Geoff Bagwell, Director of Operations at Imoco Inc.
  • Camp Industry Leaderships Award - Haynes Family, Owners of Camp Ton-A-Wandah
  • Environmental Sustainability Award - Mast General Store
  • Education Champion - Nessa’s Young’uns
  • Industrialist of the Year - Blake Kehoe, Director of Engineering at Lassande Pappas
  • Nonprofit of the Year - Children & Family Resource Center
  • First Citizens Bank Customer Service Award - Dan Poeta, Owner of Horizon Heating & Air Conditioning
  • Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award - Dr. David Ellis, Chief Medical Officer at Pardee UNC Health Care
  • G. Ray Cantrell Award - Jeff Miller, Owner of Miller’s L&C Inc.

Bobby Bennett, Hospice Home Stores Retail Director and General Manager at Four Seasons Foundation said that the Chamber’s Ambassadors donated 27,000 hours of service combined. He said that the Ambassadors help make crucial connections in the community. The 2023 Ambassador of the Year Award went to Cindy Novak, Commercial Accounts Manager at Horizon Heating and Air Conditioning. Bennett said that she is irreplaceable with dedication that can always be counted on, and that she is instrumental in the success of the Ambassadors and the Chamber.

Anderson Ellis, an attorney at Van Winkle Law Firm, said that the recipient of the Small Business Leader award, Geoff Bagwell, Director of Operations at Imoco Inc., has a unique perspective of the local small business community. He said that Bagwell was actively involved in the community, has made contributions to local schools, participated in supporting Christmas activities for local kids and the firefighter training center, and more. 

Milton Butterworth, Community Health Manager at Pardee UNC Health Care, said that the Haynes family that is the recipient of the Camp Industry Leaderships Award has a primary mission of building character and positive development of the youth. Donnie Haynes started Camp Ton-A-Wandah with the purchase of Lake Falls more than 100 years ago. Since then, the Haynes family and their camp has served thousands of young women as well as participated in nonprofit organizations, the Chamber of Commerce, and provided scholarships to students. Butterworth shared a plethora of ways the family has given back to the community and the recognitions that they have earned over the years.

Fair Nabers Waggoner, City President at United Community Bank, presented the Environmental Sustainability Award to Mast General Store, saying that the company is one that takes steps to improve the community environment. They provide employee incentives to walk, bike, or carpool to work, focus on energy efficiency, provide access to food and health services, renovate existing buildings for their stores reducing new builds, and maintain recycling and even composting programs in employee break rooms at their stores.

Michele Garashi-Ellick, President at the Four Seasons Rotary Club, presented the Education Champion award to Nessa’s Young’uns Natural Play Center owner Vanessa Gilliam M.Ed. LECE, saying that the early childhood education facility has a meaningful and significant impact on education. Garashi-Ellick said that early childhood education is vital to helping students and is a critical component of workforce development. She said that Gilliam has been an early childhood educator for decades, encourages outdoor play and interaction with nature, and that Gilliam and staff show love and compassion for her young students while supporting their individual needs.

Maria Pilos, Director of Marketing at DMJPS, presented the Industrialist of the Year award to Blake Kehoe, Director of Engineering at Lassande Pappas, saying that the recipient has been dedicated to working at the same facility for 43 years, remaining Plant Manager for four businesses within the same facility. She said that Kehoe is active in both the food industry and in the community, is leading a 100,000 square foot expansion project at the facility, and oversees the production of 200,000 gallons of juice per day.

Trina Stokes, Foundation Director at AdventHealth Hendersonville, presented the Nonprofit of the Year award to Children & Family Resource Center, saying that this nonprofit realizes the importance of partnering with other groups and nonprofits and meets the needs of children in the community. Created in 1998, Stokes said that the Children & Family Resource Center has been helping to break down barriers and allowing families access to resources for at least 1,135 children and 350 parents and caregivers, creates scholarships for parents to continue their education, provides books to early childhood education classrooms, provides the GLO Mobile experience for kids not enrolled in preschool, and so much more.

Amber Webb, Manager of Retail Banking at First Citizens Bank, presented the First Citizens Bank Customer Service Award to Dan Poeta, Owner of Horizon Heating & Air Conditioning, saying that Poeta and his staff understand that success comes from working smarter and harder. She said that Poeta has run an independent business focused on high ethical standards since 2010, providing service and leadership as well as intentional, exceptional customer service.

Lisa Parrish, Duke Energy Government and Community Relations Manager, presented the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award to Dr. David Ellis, Chief Medical Officer at Pardee UNC Health Care, saying that Ellis provides significant contributions to people and improves their quality of life. Parrish said that Ellis is a leader in the county, is involved with several nonprofits, practices excellence in medicine, is helping to expand practices and services at Pardee UNC Health Care, is developing ambulatory services with collaborators, helped to set up the first mobile Covid testing site in WNC, and more.

Randy Hunter, Owner of the Hunter Corporation, presented the G. Ray Cantrell Award, the Chamber’s most prestigious award, to Jeff Miller, Owner of Miller’s L&C Inc. and former Hendersonville City Councilman, saying that Miller has had a tremendous positive impact on the community. Hunter said that Miller’s family business has been in operation since 1915 and that the family has been a member of the chamber since they began keeping records in 1947. Hunter spoke to a wide variety of accolades and achievements of Miller including helping make Hendersonville a business-friendly city, helping to develop an industrial park, co-founded Honor Flight, and has received many awards by many different organizations.