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Chamber of Commerce honors Knox, Bell

After all he has been through, he was impressed with Thomson-McDuffie's unity. Paschal English was a contestant on the CBS show Survivor, a chief superior court judge, and the speaker at the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce 34th Annual Banquet Tuesday evening.

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An emotional Boone Knox addresses the crowd at Tuesday night's banquet.

"I've never seen a Chamber with unity like you have in Thomson, Georgia. You are to be commended for that. You hold a great secret for the rest of Georgia. ...You hold the very essence of what it took me 57 years to grasp," Mr. English said in his address to the crowd of approximately 180 people at Belle Meade Country Club.

Mr. English described his ordeal on Survivor in which he experienced extreme hunger, near starvation and dehydration on the remote island of Marquesas. Mr. English said the experience impacted him like nothing else in life; teaching him that family, friends and faith are the most important things in life.

Mr. English said he has spoken to almost every Chamber of Commerce in the state of Georgia, and he has never before been to one where the people had so much fun. In an interview after the banquet, Mr. English said he was impressed by the unity among Thomson-McDuffie leaders, and it was obvious that they cared for each other.

Chamber Chairman Steve Chalker passed on the gavel to his successor, Brad Adams, owner of Grand Rental Station.

"It's been a very easy year for me. We took a new approach and just trimmed the fat. We were able to acquire 90 new Chamber members, and it was a total board effort. ... All the credit goes to a dedicated and diverse board," Mr. Chalker said.

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Chamber Chairman Brad Adams honors Johnette Bell, the Small Business Person of the Year.

Mr. Adams presented gifts to outgoing Chamber board members Dawn Powell and Kenneth Usry and recognized new board members.

The Business Person of the Year Award was given to Johnette Bell, owner of The Brier Patch. Mr. Adams told of Mrs. Bell's dedication to providing service to her customers and to seeing "the town hoppin' again."

Before opening the craft store and tanning salon 13 years ago, Mrs. Bell worked at the Thomson stockyard, the Thomson Company and operated a tree removal business. Mrs. Bell also volunteers for Camellia Partners for Success, the Downtown Development Authority, the Dearing Mayfest Committee and the Festival Off Main committee.

"I am flabbergasted," Mrs. Bell said after the banquet. "I cannot figure out how they pulled that off without my finding out."

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Paschal English, a superior court judge and Survivor contestant, was the featured speaker during the annual chamber banquet.

Mrs. Bell said Mr. Adams had contacted her two weeks ago, telling her that she would need to make a speech at the Chamber banquet about the success of the Festival Off Main. It wasn't until she heard the beginning of Mr. Adams' introductory speech and saw her family arrive from Sandersville that she realized what was happening.

"I believed every word of it. I've been practicing for two weeks. I feel like a fool for not knowing, but I am honored to be honored with Boone Knox. Heck, it doesn't get any better than this," she said.

Boone Knox was awarded the Darrell Johnson Award. Don Powers, executive director of Forward McDuffie, said the award was developed in memory of Darrell Johnson who was a great community leader in Thomson. Mr. Powers said the award is given to those who "contribute in a major way to making Thomson a better place."

"Mr. Knox fits every ideal of the Darrell Johnson Award," Mr. Powers said.

Mr. Knox was born and raised in McDuffie County and started the Bank of Thomson, which was purchased by Allied Bank and is now Regions Bank.

"His trademark is he doesn't want to make a bunch of noise, he just wants to get the work done," Mr. Powers said.

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Steve Chalker, who served as the 2005 chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, passes the gavel to 2006 chairman Brad Adams.

In addition to the banking business, Mr. Knox has been a Rotarian for 25 years, a past Chamber President, a member of the Development Authority, leader of The Knox Foundation, involved in Belle Meade Golf Course renovation and promoting tourism, and a supporter of the Blind Willie Blues Festival.

"Thomson-McDuffie County has meant a lot to me these last 69 years," Mr. Knox said through tears. "We've got a great city and community, and it could be greater. I ask y'all to continue supporting as you always have, and if I can ever do anything at all, I will as I have. Thank you for honoring me in this way."



Web posted on Thursday, January 26, 2006











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