Chamber gives awards at annual dinner

·3 min read

Jul. 24—The family of former Glynn County Police Chief Carl Alexander received the Alfred W. Jones Award at the Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner Thursday at the Jekyll Island Convention Center.

The highest honor award at the chamber's annual dinner each year was presented by Bill Jones, the recipient of the award in 1999. The award is named after Jones' grandfather.

He described Alexander, who died April 13 after serving as county police chief from 1987 to 2002 and head of security at Sea Island Resort 19 years, as someone "as deserving as any who have received it."

"He was a rock, a steady hand, especially in a crisis," Jones said.

He presented the award to Alexander's widow, Susan Alexander and daughter Grace Albright.

"We're really proud of him," Albright said.

The crowd of more than 270 people gave a prolonged standing ovation after the presentation.

Chamber president and CEO Ralph Staffins said the board learned a lot this past year about how to help businesses survive and thrive amid a pandemic.

"The board took on those challenges," he said. "We were effective in what we (did)."

In fact, he said the Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce was among the few in the state that actually grew membership the past year.

Ben Hartman, who passed the gavel as chairman at the end of the meeting, said it is critical to develop future leadership. He praised the ongoing effort for city and county leaders to continue to grow and improve their working relationships.

"Our city and county are on the same page," he said. "The chamber was a source of information and advocacy during the pandemic."

The Rev. Mark Baker of Greater Works Ministry was given the Chairman's Award for his work in the community, including insuring hundreds of children have gifts for Christmas each year.

Staffins presented the 30 Year Service Award to Joan Ware, the front office manager for the chamber. He described Ware as "a rock at the chamber of commerce."

Heather Hamilton with Turner & Associates Insurance, was given the Ambassador of the Year Award for her consistency and willingness to volunteer to help the chamber achieve its mission.

Michael Scherneck, president and CEO of Southeast Georgia Health System, accepted the Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce 2020 Exceptional Service award on behalf of the hospital staff.

The health system is credited for dealing with a pandemic in a way that helped the local economy recover quickly while providing the information needed to keep the public safer. The hospital also managed to continue with a multi-million dollar construction project at the same time.

The Small Business of the Year was presented to the Halyard Group by Greer Anderson, immediate past chair of the chamber.

Donte Habersham, owner of Mr. Shucks Seafood, was given the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award.

"The chamber has helped me realize who I am in the community," Habersham said. "These guys believed in me, pushed me."

The Milton H. "Woody" Woodside Community Champion Award was given to the Kaufman Family for their contributions.

Michael Kaufman, owner of three buildings created to provide office space in downtown Brunswick, accepted the award on behalf of his family. The Wick buildings, with dozens of tenants, are credited with helping to bring new life downtown.

Kaufman said it was "a huge honor" for his family to receive the recognition. The dinner ended with the chairman's gavel being passed from Ben Hartman to incoming chairman Scherneck.

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