Thanks from the chamber

The Blount-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 30th anniversary last month at the annual banquet held at The World Outreach Center and more than 400 people gathered to celebrate life in Blount County.

Annual awards were presented to several individuals and businesses as part of the celebration. Many, many “thank you’s” are in order as volunteers and organizations stepped forward to assist the chamber with the event. The staff of The World Outreach Center was wonderful as always and once again the perfect hosts, so a special thank you goes to Debbie, Donna, Will, Pastor Laura, and everyone who prepared and served the meal, provided parking assistance, and set up the sanctuary for us.

Thank you also to Tyson Foods, your donation is always very much appreciated. Thank you to everyone who purchased a ticket and attended. Once again, we had a sold-out event and we could not have been more pleased. Thank you Ramblin’ Rows for the entertainment and Sheriff Loyd Arrington and his staff for the help. Also, I would like to personally say thank you to our chamber board volunteers for everything they did and continue to do for our county. Odds and ends

Chamber membership is now up to more than 310. Along with the eight Sustaining Partners, we are very excited to have so many people support the organization. But we need more! If you would like help us work toward a better Blount County, call Aimee or I at 274- 2153 or go online and join today at We continue to welcome visitors and guests to our new office at The Depot on Highway 75 south in Oneonta. Please stop by and see the office space in the historic L&N train depot. We also have an assortment of cards, photos, and drawings of our covered bridges that are for sale by The Friends of The Covered Bridges. Economic new

As it has been for several years, the news on the economic front is a mixed bag of “good and bad.” First, the good. Blount County’s unemployment rate last month was tied for the second-lowest in the state. However, any unemployment is too much as we continue to see slow growth in the retail and industrial sectors. Again, at least it is growth and not losses.

Another positive would be the slight drop in gas prices. However, that seems to fluctuate overnight, which could be changed by the time this article is printed. Any change in gas prices drastically affects households in Blount County, as almost 80 percent of our workforce commutes to work outside the county each day. Those 21,000 plus commuters spend an average of $1,400 per year in fuel just to get to work and back. So a 10-cent change per gallon of gas is very significant to the household income of Blount Countians. Let’s hope prices continue to fall and that the economy will enable more jobs to be created locally to alleviate the commute for many in the future.