The VFW in Carmi was packed on Monday night to celebrate the local businesses and individuals who strive to make the community of Carmi a marvelous place. 

Shana Northcott, the new Executive Director for the Chamber of Commerce, introduced the Chamber members and some of the many guests that were in attendance. Northcott also thanked Yesterday’s for catering the buffet style meal. 

Mayor Jeff Pollard started the night off by giving his State of the City address. He informed the guests of all of the wonderful improvements that have been made and are currently happening in the city of Carmi. Pollard also included that there will be a ceremony on October 18 for the dedication of the Learning Trail at Burrell Park. The entirety of his speech will be published in this issue. 

Pollard concluded his speech by giving a warm welcome to the guest speaker of the night, Scott Wylie. Wylie, a former Carmi native, was both an entertainer and a moving speaker at the dinner on Monday. He explained the importance of investing in programs, like the CEO Program, and how his life was blessed with individuals investing in his future. "Investments that communities, like Carmi made, and programs like the CEO, are so vitally important to communities like ours. Each and every one of you, who has invested in this wonderful program and other programs like it, should be very proud. 

Tracy Orr, the White County CEO Facilitator, presented the 2020 CEO class to the full room. One by one, each student thanked all of their many supporters and shared instances where the program has, not only helped them learn about business, but has also helped them become better in their social skills. The CEO Program has been established for four years and continues to thrive. 

Incoming Chamber President Lisa Wolff thanked the departing directors by honoring Toby Brown, who served on the Chamber of Commerce as an officer from 2014-2019 and was the Past President for 2018-2019. Wolff stated, “He truly loves Carmi, he loves what it stands for.”

Past President for the 2019-2020 Justin Dartt announced the 2019 Small Business of the year. Webber Auto Repair Center LLC has been, “a one-stop shop for all your auto needs.” 

Dartt then welcomed Abby Barnard to the podium to award the Large Business of the Year. Barnard gave an eloquent speech about the fantastic work that Heather Talley and The Taco Factory have done in just a few years. “The Taco Factory takes huge pride in giving back to our community. Every month 100% of employee tips go to that months chosen cost. These donations have helped: Brownsville School, Baptist Children’s Home, The Guardian Center and paid for school students’ lunches.” Heather Talley, of The Taco Factory, accepted the award for the 2019 Large Business of the Year.

Vice President of the Chamber, Lindsay Schoenheit was honored to give the 2019 Citizen of the Year to two individuals who have impacted many lives in the community. Schoenheit stated, “There are many attributes that come to mind when describing this team of two. Some of those attributes include: humility, grace, love, sacrifice and selflessness. They live a life of service to their community, church and professions.” LeAnn and Mark Rogers graciously accepted the award, with Mark saying, “We are very humbled by this award. Thank you all so much. We couldn’t do what we do without your support.”