The Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce presented its President’s Award to Laura Thiel Shull. Saying that Thiel Shull “gives freely of her time to various organizations, and always with a smile,” Chamber Board President Chip Galloway presented Thiel with the award during the chamber’s 103rd Annual Meeting, Awards Gala and Reception. The gala took place Thursday at the historic Robert Mills Courthouse. KershawHealth Executive Vice President and COO/CFO Mike Bunch assisted Galloway with the presentation.
“The President’s Award is the highest honor given by our organization,” Galloway said. “It is given annually to an individual or individuals who have contributed significantly to Kershaw County for an extended period of time, or have made significant contributions to the betterment of the community and a long-term commitment to improving Kershaw County and making it a better place for all our citizens and visitors. Members are asked to nominate individuals for the award and the President decides who will receive it based upon advice from the executive committee.”
According to information provided by the chamber, Shull works one day a week at Food for the Soul where she also serves on its board. She also serves on the boards of the Carolina Cup Racing Association, National Steeplechase Association and National Steeplechase Museum. Shull is also a founding member and former president of the national Steeplechase Owners and Trainers Association, for which she currently serves as vice president and treasurer.
Shull is a founding member and current chairman of the South Carolina Equine Promotion Foundation.
“Our honoree’s efforts have been vital to the development and continued growth and success of the S.C. Equine (Center), which is a huge economic engine not only in Camden (and) Kershaw County, but also in our state,” Galloway said.
Shull is also a founding member and vice chair of the Firestone Thiel Land Foundation. She is a former volunteer with the Kershaw County Rape Crisis Center and will serve on Kershaw County Council’s Tourism Advisory Committee.
Shull also opened and operated Gifts on Broad before selling the business and currently runs a real estate company.
The next two big awards for the evening went to two members of Veterinary Medicine & Surgery.
Veterinary technician Lesley Robb earned the William F. Nettles Award, while the chamber named veterinarian Dr. Brian Spilker its Business Person of the Year.
The Nettles Award is given in memory of long-time business and Chamber supporter William F. Nettles Jr.
Chamber Executive Director Liz Horton said Robb began volunteering in 2000 at the Walter M. Crowe Animal Shelter in Camden and volunteered through 2002. Robb then moved up to working as an assistant veterinary technician at shelter until 2007. Following a stint at Charleston’s Northwood Veterinary Clinic, Robb returned to Kershaw County in 2011, Horton said.
“This past year (Robb) has made (more than) 100 in-person visits to chamber members, has attended numerous meetings and events and also served on the chamber’s education committee assisting with the Youth Employability Skills Conference held at ATEC last fall,” Horton said. “She is a dedicated Chamber volunteer and is an invaluable asset to our organization.”
Horton explained that, in the past, there had not been established criteria for the Nettles Award with recipients nominated and voted on by chamber staff and board members based on their level of support for the chamber. This year marks the first time criteria has been established to name a Nettles Award recipient.
“Our new Diplomat Program allows us the ability to recruit and utilize volunteers who serve as liaisons between your chamber and its members and also assist with Chamber events and programs,” Horton said. “Our volunteer Diplomats are then rewarded with recognition for their efforts through a points system; earning points for each duty they perform to aid the Chamber in its membership recruitment and retention efforts. The volunteer with the most points as of the end of April each year will now be recognized as our William F. Nettle’s Award recipient.”
This year’s Nettles Award was sponsored by SAFE Federal Credit Union and its president and CEO, Beverly Gagne, assisted in presenting the award.
First Citizens Bank acted as sponsor for this year’s Business Person of the Year Award. First Citizens’ Dennis Stuber made the presentation, explaining why Spilker is this year’s recipient.
The Business Person of the Year award is given annually to an individual or a business that has contributed to the betterment of Kershaw County.
“(Spilker) has served on the board of directors for the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce and has supported various chamber programs and activities and continues to support and promote Kershaw County. He also encourages his employees to be actively engaged as volunteers within the community. He has also been an active advocate and supporter of the South Carolina Fun4All Organization which provides outdoor activities and events for individuals with disabilities,” Stuber said. “His business has actively supported and participated in a variety of community events over the years to include parades, business networking events, various fundraisers and more. His business has also been recognized with a Community Pride Award in 2010, and then again this year for the continual improvements he makes to his facility which helps improve the appearance of our community.”
The evening’s activities began with the awards ceremony followed by cocktails, appetizers, a surprise flash dance mob performed by chamber members, and live music under a tent on the courthouse lawn.
Ahead of naming the award recipients, Horton highlighted some of the recent improvements that have taken place in terms of the chamber and its facilities. These included painting and restoration of the exterior, an updated welcome sign, new welcome banners in the parking lot and technology upgrades. A new visitors’ guide is also in the works that the chamber hopes to have in stock by the summer. Horton also mentioned updates being made to the chamber’s mobile and Internet capabilities, including the Kershaw County Tourism Office’s webpage as well as a city of Camden mobile app. Horton said these updates will “allow visitors access to our community information 24/7.”
Horton then introduced the presenting sponsors. First to the stage was AT&T Regional Director of External Affairs and area representative Ike Byrd. The second sponsor was District Manager, Rick Jiran, of Duke Energy South Carolina. Byrd and Jiran were on hand for the presentation of the 2013 Business Partner of the Year Award, which was actually presented to two recipients.
The Business Partner of the Year recognizes a business or organization that has contributed the most to the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) in time or resources for the past school year.
Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC) sponsored the first of the two awards, and CCTC President Dr. Tim Hardee assisted in presentation it to Sonic of Lugoff for its relationship with Wateree Elementary School. Sonic was nominated by Lindsay Christofaro who said that Sonic has been “an ongoing business partner for Wateree Elementary School for (more than) 10 years.”
“You can always count on Sonic. Mr. Kevin Wilburn is an outstanding manager who goes above and beyond to give back to his community. Kershaw County is extremely fortunate to have such a terrific businessman,” Christofaro said.
Wilburn and his assistant manager and daughter, Kimber Lund, came forward to accept the award.
The tables were turned on Hardee, so to speak, as he accepted the second Business Partner of the Year Award on behalf of CCTC. Powers Funeral Home sponsored the award and owner Robbie Powers assisted in presenting it to Hardee.
Weyland Burns of KCSD Adult Education nominated CCTC saying that “Dr. Hardee and his staff have shown consistent service, a like-minded vision for career development for our students and a willingness to create new partnerships and solutions to common problems. They always answer the bell and love to work with us to find creative ways to increase the employability of our students.”
Other awards of the night included the Chamber’s Community Pride Award which is presented to those Chamber members who “’go the extra mile’ to assure their business’ outward appearance is above and beyond what is reasonably done as a matter of course in construction or renovation,” Horton said.
The Community Pride Awards were sponsored by Cantey, Tiller, Pierce & Green and assisting with the awards presentation were Rickie Tiller of Cantey, Tiller, Pierce & Green and Galloway.
This year’s winners were:
• The ABLE Club of South Carolina for updates to Optimist Field at Lugoff-Elgin High School accepted by Lynne Robinson.
• The Greenleaf Villa for improvements and extensive landscaping accepted by property owner, Alice Boykin.
• Books on Broad, accepted by Bill Funderburk and wife State Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk.
• The city of Camden for improvements at the Camden Archives and Museum to include Reconciliation, the new statues of Larry Doby and Bernard Baruch; and for the Town Green where statues of Joseph Kershaw and King Haigler were recently unveiled. Mayor Tony Scully accepted the awards.
• Dave’s Place in Lugoff, accepted by Lauren Hallman.
• Grace Episcopal Church, accepted by Margaret Lane and Anita Stead.
• Graham Realty, accepted by Art and Jeffrey Graham.
• The KCSD, accepted by Superintended Dr. Frank Morgan.
• Lugoff KFC/Pizza Hut Express, accepted by Shelley Martin.
• Lugoff Optimist Club for the new “Welcome to Lugoff” sign, accepted by Nancy Gregory and Sherri Barett.
• Lugoff Toyota, accepted by Samer Abraham.
• Sandhills Medical Clinic, accepted by CFO Chris Dixon.
• Second Chance Fellowship, accepted by Marvin and Elizabeth Jones.
• Sonic Drive-In of Camden, accepted by managing partner David Tillotson.
• The town of Elgin for improvements to Elgin Town Hall, accepted by Elgin Mayor Brad Hanley.
• Veterinary Medicine and Surgery in Lugoff accepted by owner Dr. Brian Spilker.
• Wateree Animal Hospital in Camden, accepted by associates Dr. Patrick Wylie and Dr. Eric Rundlett.
• Wells Fargo Advisor Financial Network LLC, accepted by Billy Watkins.
The Bethune Recreation Community Center, Creekside Grill and Ale, Everyday Gourmet, New Life Christian Outreach and Riverdeck Store & Grill were also recognized with Community Pride Awards but were unable to attend.
Thursday night’s event also served as a changing of the guard, as Galloway welcomed incoming Chamber President John Thomas.
Before Thomas came forward, Galloway took the time to refer to “synergy,” which he believes is what the chamber has as a way of “bringing folks together like we have tonight.” He also said that Horton “is a light” and that it had been an honor serving as chamber president.
Thomas referred to U.S. President Harry S Truman and the phrase “the buck stops here” which he kept on a sign on his desk in the Oval Office. Thomas said he wished to turn that phrase around and say that the “buck starts here” in reference to the chamber. He also said that the reason so many have chosen Kershaw County to call their home is because of the quality of life that can be found here and he wishes to assist in continuing this legacy.
Horton closed the ceremony recognizing three individuals that the community lost in the past year “who dedicated a large part of their lives to the betterment of Kershaw County.” The individuals recognized were Willie Edmund “Almond” Locklear, Joey Dorton and Max Wood. To show appreciation for their contributions, Horton said the chamber had memorial bricks engraved for each individual and had them placed on the walkway at the Robert Mills Courthouse.