Even I had to smile during the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner last week.
And it had nothing to do with Bob Flanders' belly-button or Ron Shipman's affinity for imaginary buzzards.
Instead, I was thrilled by the award winners.
As a long-time McDuffie entrepreneur, Ben Howell Sr.'s fingerprints are all over the business building blocks of this community. He's also just a nice guy, a World War II vet and strong family man -- all tenants of receiving the Daryl Johnson Award.
Also, Nether Ivery is a great choice as the county's Small Business Person of the Year and not just because of his wonderful buffet. Nether's dedication and faith in downtown Thomson are reason enough to honor the school board member. He -- and wife, Stephanie -- have invested their money in three downtown business and their time on various public boards and organizations.
And then there is Sue Richards. I grew up a block or so from "Miss Sue" (before The Richards moved to the country), my sister and her oldest daughter were friends and our families have remained close friends through the years.
But I had no idea just how active she was in the community. Miss Sue has been at nearly every chamber-related event that I have attended since July and many that I have missed. Her devotion to the area is tireless. And it was wonderful to see her receive the chamber's Volunteer of The Year award last week.
Meanwhile, you'll find something special in this week's edition of The Mirror. Two things, actually.
First, we are kicking off our monthly NASCAR section called Inside Track.
Admittedly, I've resisted NASCAR coverage in The Mirror since our inception in July -- much to the chagrin of our sports columnist Gene Walker and office manager Becky Irwin. I changed my mind from the moment I saw the first prototype of Inside Track.
With stories by Morris News Service's veteran racing reporter Don Coble, the section offers more than just a glance at the coming races for the month. There's also track information, driver profiles, great pictures, places to stay near the track, even great places to eat in each host city.
Also this week, we've compiled a short special section called McDuffie Marriages. It's a compilation -- the first of what I hope will become a Valentine's tradition for The Mirror -- of some of the blushing brides from McDuffie County's past.
I was surprised at the willingness of many of the brides to participate. They could have easily shied away from allowing us to use pictures that were, in some cases, older than I am. But they didn't. In fact, a few of them even offered to get pictures of friends' and families' weddings for us.
Hold those thoughts. There'll be plenty of time -- and space -- for those next year.