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Roane County Chamber of Commerce presented its prestigious annual business awards for 2013 before a crowd of community and business leaders attending the Chamber’s 67th annual banquet at Whitestone Country Inn on April 19.
Honorees this year include Rose Meza of Harriman Care and Rehabilitation, Chamber Ambassador of the Year; Foust Family Fitness, Business of the Year; Brantley Rivers of Acme Brick and Block, Paul E. Goldberg Young Professional Award; and Gail Lyke of First Bank of Tennessee, Roane Chamber Woman of the Year.
The Distinguished Service Award was presented to Paul Cowell of Whitestone Country Inn, who was honored for his outstanding contributions both to Roane County and the Chamber.
Presenting this year’s Business of the Year award to Foust Family Fitness owners Paul and Lisa Foust was longtime Chamber member Johnny Griffin of Griffin Insurance.
“The team at Foust Family Fitness … positively impacts the health and welfare of our community,” Griffin said.
“Paul’s work in mentoring young athletes throughout our community is noteworthy,” he added. “Paul and Lisa volunteer time to coordinate a team each year to participate in the CASA Run for the Child 5k race … they have been a title sponsor for the past three years and won the award for the team with the most participants.
Foust has shown great pride in the Kingston business he started in 2009, Griffin said.
“In that short time, he has more than doubled their space and made huge improvements to the facility,” he added.
Leslie Henderson, Chamber president and The Roane Alliance CEO, called the Paul E. Goldberg Young Professional Award “one of the most important, because within this under-40 group lies the future of our county and our Chamber.”
This year’s recipient, Rivers, is president of Acme Block and Brick, a company whose Roane County roots go back to 1898.
Rivers took over running the business four years ago, bringing back to his home county “what he learned as a team player … as a college football standout … and in the classroom” where he studied business, Henderson said.
Rivers operates three retail sites and one manufacturing facility for the Middle and East Tennessee business his family has operated since 1942.
He “still makes time to give back to his community,” Henderson said of the young man described as “friendly and outgoing,” “respectful” and “professional” and a visionary who “makes things happen through his business and for the community.”
The Chamber Woman of the Year Award honors individuals for professional achievements, community service and assistance to women in reaching their full potential.
Lyke received this year’s honor due to her years of dedicated community service.
She “displays qualities of a Woman of the Year each and every day through her quiet acts of kindness, as well as selfless donation of her time and energy for the community she loves,” said Kathy Parks of The Bridge at Rockwood, who presented the award. “She is one of the first to speak up and volunteer to assist.”
Lyke is treasurer of the Chamber board, and Parks said she is “always eager to find new Chamber members as she realizes the value of a strong united community,” but is also very involved in her church, where she “teaches a children’s Sunday school class,” and her family.
In addition to her longtime service on the Chamber board, Lyke serves on the Leadership Roane County board and is a member of Rockwood Civitan Club, Rockwood Business and Professional Women’s Club and Roane County’s Women Executives.
The Distinguished Service Award is one of the most prestigious of the Chamber’s honors.
Henderson said the award “honors a Chamber member who has demonstrated outstanding performance or unusual contribution to our County and our Chamber and is highly respected in his or her field.”
In presenting the award to Cowell, Henderson noted he is a Christian minister who is not only “generous to a fault” – for example, he has provided free stays at Whitestone to more than 11,000 missionaries from around the world – but is also “an incredibly astute businessman” whose résumé includes CEO of The Book Warehouse national chain and the Shop At Home cable network.
Cowell’s decision to make his dream come true by developing a luxurious “retreat for the soul” along Watts Bar Lake has been “positively magical” for Roane County, Henderson said, “but it is not Whitestone that we are honoring tonight – it is Paul himself.”
The awards ceremony began with the presentation of the Chamber’s Ambassador of the Year.
“This year’s recipient epitomizes the true meaning of ‘ambassador’,” said Chamber Membership Chairwoman Kim Harris as she presented a plaque and a $500 check to Meza.
“Rose is admissions coordinator for Harriman Care & Rehab (and) is a Thirty One Gifts distributor, part owner/operator of Doc’s Diner and works at the Crow’s Nest,” Harris said.
“She is extremely active in various community activities that involve her work, businesses and passions.”
The business awards are an integral part of the Chamber banquet, which was attended by more than 150 business and community leaders.