Chamber’s 73rd Annual Meeting & Gala Honors Chaney, Smith


CULLMAN –  Last night’s Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce shindig at Stonebridge Farm was a party with a purpose. The 73rd Annual Meeting & Gala, “Great Leaders Serve,” had a “Downton Abbey” theme and saw many attendees decked out in 1920s attire. It also honored two leaders who have dedicated their lives to public service and the Cullman community- Cullman Economic Development Agency Director Peggy Smith and Cullman County District Judge Kim Chaney.

The Lucille Galin Public Service Award was presented by Cullman Mayor Max A. Townson to Smith, who spoke admiringly of Galin and said humbly, “I never thought I would receive this award in her name.”

Smith went on to thank the many mentors in her life and her family for their support of her career. “I am so humbled,” she said.

Smith also acknowledged that this has been a great week, referencing the Cullman EDA’s news on Wednesday that Cullman was named the No. 2 Micropolitan Area in the country based on corporate facility investment.

Chaney was honored with the Emma Marie Eddleman Citizenship Award, presented by incoming chamber chair Sammie Danford, who praised the judge for his years of work on the behalf of children in our community.

Chaney spoke of his family’s working-class beginnings and said any success he has had is a reflection of his upbringing. He also thanked his fellow judges and his wife, whom he said was more deserving of the award that he.

“I will always try to make Cullman a safe place to live, work and raise a family,” said Chaney.

Both Smith and Chaney received standing ovations from the crowd.

The meeting kicked off earlier in the evening after a welcome from Chamber President Leah Bolin and a lively video presentation, after which guest speaker Peter Good, a veteran of the hospitality industry, spoke to the quality of service that great leaders provide and how one’s service to their community and brand combine together to create the reputation of their business.

Outgoing Chamber Chair Jason Grimmett, of Drinkard Development, passed the gavel to incoming Chair Danford of the United Way of Cullman County. The Chamber’s Total Resource Campaign (TRC) Chair Dr. James Thomas, of Alabama Specialty Care, also passed the gavel to his successor, Shirley Quattlebaum of State Farm Insurance.

“Our Chamber Board faced many challenges this year,” said Grimmett. “These challenges were met with confidence and the enthusiasm to ‘work forward’ and continue the vision of our Chamber that was set out more than 70 years ago. The foundation that has been built over all these years has made our Chamber what it is today, and that is the envy of every other Chamber of Commerce in the state of Alabama.”

Additional award recipients were Stephanie Wood, who was named Chamber Ambassador of the Year, and Cullman Eye Specialists, who took home Small Business of the Year honors.

The crowd, which included many community leaders, business owners and elected officials, enjoyed and after party to wrap up the evening.