Chamber awards – part two



As recognition continues in part two of a four-part series of the 2020 Chamber of Commerce award winners, this week will highlight the community service organization, emerging business, business, and industry of the year. Blount County is fortunate to have remarkable businesses and organizations that help make it the wonderful place it is. Excellence in Community Service

The Eldridge Bynum Award for Excellence in Community Service recognizes an organization within the county. Criteria considered by judges include those the organization serves and the impact it has on Blount County. This year’s winner is The Danny B. Hicks Scholarship, Inc., an organization that has awarded 224 scholarships totaling $296,500 to Blount County seniors since 2010.

Hicks (above right), a Blount County Juvenile Probation Officer for 33 years and a four-term Oneonta mayor, had a special dedication to Blount County youth. Much of his life was spent doing everything possible to make sure anyone who desired to have a better life and education would have the opportunity to do so. Emerging Business of the Year



Sweetie’s Place came onto the local restaurant scene in November 2019. Their unique “pay as you please” concept makes hot, affordable meals available to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. Blount County and beyond embraced this concept with open arms, all while enjoying a home-cooked meal with friends and family.

Kimberly Benefield, aka Sweetie, (top left with husband Bobo), said, “We are very humbled by winning this award. We appreciate the love and support of this community. We started this business to give God all the glory, and we are amazed how he is using us in this capacity.” Business of the Year

“Extremely blessed and honored.” That is how owners Peter Zahel and Janine Boyd (bottom left) feel about Legends Sofa Bar being recognized as Blount County Business of the Year. Providing a modern and cozy venue for entertainment, food, and beverages, the restaurant is proud to be a part of Blount County. Zahel and Boyd are thankful for the continued community support every day. Boyd said, “We have a very loyal customer base that has helped us during this pandemic, and for that, we are thankful and blessed.”

Not only does Legends offer a fun, relaxing place to hang out, they are committed to helping the community. Over the past year, Legends generously provided meals after tornadoes struck the community and has given more than 200 meals to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Zahel said they are grateful to be able to help in a time of need, and they do not want anyone to go hungry. Industry of the Year

Blount County Industry of the Year for 2020 is St. Vincent’s Blount (right), a fully nationally accredited hospital that offers a wide variety of programs and services at our doorstep. In addition to being a four-star hospital, they offer physicians who specialize in family practice, dermatology, gastroenterology, orthopedics, general surgery, urology, and many other focus services.

Hospital administrator Greg Brown said they are excited about winning the award. He credits much of the success of the hospital to its topnotch employees. Brown acknowledged that the employee turnover rate is about 4 percent, and employees appear to be genuinely happy with their jobs. He said, “It’s nice to come to work and see people enjoying what they do.” Because 99 percent of the staff lives in Blount County, employees are often serving and treating their friends or family. That makes it even more personalized service. Coming next week

As parents have had to take on the task of teaching at home over the past couple of months, many have realized just how special teachers are as they prepare the next generation of adults and leaders. While all teachers could easily qualify for this award, next week, The Blount Countian will feature Blount County and Oneonta City schools teachers of the year.