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May 21, 2024

Chamber Banquet Held

Several awards given to well-deserving members of the community

By Catherine Kirk

The Bolivar Bullet

Monday night, the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 2023 Annual Banquet while highlighting the Chamber’s 75th anniversary and the prestigious award winners for the year.

The Economic Development Foundation and community members were invited to attend the banquet, which was held at the Bolivar County Expo Complex as the Chamber recognized the service and support of its volunteers and sponsors.

Before the evening’s banquet, the Chamber hosted a Cleveland-Bolivar County FAM Tour, which started Monday morning at the Charles W. Dean Industrial Park and an agriculture excursion before lunch was served. The tour continued at the Port of Rosedale, Industrial Park and Great River Road State Park before guests returned to the Cotton House Hotel to prepare for the anniversary banquet.

“We decided as part of our annual banquet we needed to celebrate the Chamber’s 75th anniversary. After some additional conversations, we thought, ‘Why not show off the community while we were at it?’’ said Hannah Aguzzi, Chamber Director.

At the start of the banquet, a welcome speech was given by Jeffrey Farris, president of the Chamber of Commerce, regarding the prestigious awards given in recognition of individuals and businesses who have served the community. 

“We say thank you to those who have come before us, recognize past leadership, and spotlight our staff who are the driving force to keep us motivated and organized as we serve a community that feels our heart with pride and joy,” said Farris.

After recognizing the members of the Chamber Executive Committee, Chamber Board of Directors, Tourism Board, Team Cleveland, EDF, Young Professionals, Chamber Staff and event sponsors, special messages were then given by Nehi Bottling Company President Homer Sledge III and Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell.

After a prayer by Minister Charles Cannon of House of Prayer, Aguzzi recognized their guests, sponsors and volunteers for the event.

Attendees included Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons, representatives Bill Crump  and Umesh Sanjanwala from the Office of Senator Cindy-Hyde-Smith, representative Kristen Windham from the Office of Governor Tate Reeves, Senators Sarita Simmons and Mike McLendon; Representatives Robert Sanders, Tracey Rosebud, Otis Anthony, Orlando Paden, John Hines Sr. and Derrick Simmons; Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell, City Aldermen Zinnia Howze, Gary Gainspoletti and Kirk Povall; Bolivar County Supervisors Larry King, James McBride, Jacorius Liner, Orlando Morton, Donny Whitten; County Administrator Will Hooker; Bolivar County Chancery Clerk Brennet Haynes; Sheriff Kelvin Williams; Judge Hunter Nowell; Mississippi Development Authority Christian Lockamy, David Rose from Cooperative Entergy, and Delta State University President Dr. Daniel Ennis. 

Aguzzi thanked the sponsors that helped make the event possible, which include Platinum sponsors — Guaranty Bank, Quality Steel, and Simplot; Gold Sponsor — Mike and Nan Sanders; and Silver Sponsors — Aguzzi Farms, Lifetime Dental, Mitchell Distributing, Nehi Bottling Co, Renasant Bank, Serv-U Petroleum, and Whole Cellars Package Store.

The first award of the evening was the Lucy R. Janoush Citizenship Award, which is awarded by the City of Cleveland.  It is given in honor of the late Lucy Janoush, a former Cleveland resident who was the backbone of the Chamber for several years and a large reason why Cleveland has a GRAMMY Museum. This year’s Lucy R. Janoush Citizenship Award was given to Tricia Walker, singer/songwriter of Big Front Porch Productions, Chamber of Commerce Green and White Committee member, and member of the Chamber of Commerce Tourism Board of Directors. 

Following was the presentation of the Recognition of Service Awards. 

First was the Outstanding Young Professional Award, which is given to someone to a member of the community who offers community service, professional development, social interaction, and relationship building for young professionals living and working in Cleveland and Bolivar County. This award was granted to Cade Holder of the Bologna Performing Arts Center. 

Following was the Small Business Legacy Award, which is a new annual award recognizing a business in Cleveland and Bolivar County that has been open for 15 years, serving residents and visitors in distinct ways that contribute not only to the economic impact of the region, but to its quality of life. This award was given to Johnathan and Amy Vance and Heesy Holder of Airport Grocery.

Next was the President’s Award, which is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding service to the community. Traditionally given to a committee chair, this year’s award winner has gone above and beyond in his dedication to the Chamber of Commerce. This year’s President’s Award was presented to Delta Dairy owner Matty Begloff, who also serves on the Chamber of Commerce Aspire Mississippi Committee and is President of Team Cleveland Board of Directors. 

The next evening’s award was the Chamber Award. Like the President’s Award, the Chamber Award is presented annually. Traditionally given to a committee chair, this year’s award winner has gone above and beyond in her dedication to the Chamber of Commerce. This year’s winner was Sarah Aylward, owner of The Wishing Well, vice president of Tourism for the Chamber of Commerce Executive Board and Chamber of Commerce Octoberfest Committee. 

The S.E. Kossman Sr. Award was the final award of the evening. The S.E. Kossman, Sr. Award is the most prestigious award given by the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce each year. The award recognizes a Chamber member who has provided outstanding, and most importantly, enduring, service to the Cleveland-Bolivar County community. This year’s award was presented to Becky Nowell, community leader, 50 Nights of Lights Chair, and Chamber of Commerce Green and White Committee Chair. 

Tuesday morning, more tours were held at the Municipal Airport with breakfast, a flight simulation and presentation at the Delta State University Flight Operations Facility.

“This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce and I couldn’t be more excited about the many years to come,” said Aguzzi. “However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t look back and pay homage to all the civic and business leaders as well as volunteers who’ve worked tirelessly throughout the years to make our community what it is today. I’d also like to thank our generous sponsors Guaranty Bank and Trust, Quality Steel Corporation, Simplot, Mike and Nan Sanders, Serv-U Petroleum, Aguzzi Farms, Lifetime Dental, Renasant Bank, Nehi Bottling Company, Whole Cellars Package Store, and Mitchell Distributing for making our Community Tour and Banquet celebration possible. Together, we can continue making our community a great place to live, work, visit, and prosper.”