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Beach Chamber honors town excellence

Posted on Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm

by Lyn Ring

The Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce held its annual Awards Banquet last week at the beautiful Lighthouse Restaurant on Monroe Bay in Colonial Beach.  Businesses and individuals were recognized for their excellence and volunteerism during the year 2012.

Carey Geddes, President of the Chamber, hosted the evening’s ceremonies. Geddes recognized town officials and others present including  Keynote speaker John “Sparky” Lewis, Mayor Mike Ham, Lieutenant Ron Webster and his wife Suzanne, Officer Sara Lombrana, Lisa Santiago of NSWC Federal Credit Union, Rocky Denson of Denson’s Grocery and Judy Purkey of the Colonial Yacht Club and Beach Service Center.  Council members present were Jim Chiarello, Linda Brubaker, Tommy Edwards and Wanda Goforth. Kathleen Beane, Superintendent of Colonial Beach Schools, Trish King, Head of Tourism and Larry Roberson, 5th District Supervisor were also recognized. Thanked for their contributions to the evening were Ingleside Plantation Winery and Hall’s Grocery.

On each place setting at the tables was a copy of the 2013 Colonial Beach Visitors Guide. Carey Thanked Maryann Day and Director Shirley Hinrichs for completing the guides which will be available in visitor centers, in the Tourism Office and at various other businesses.  Carey noted that a listing of events for 2013 is included in the guide including but not limited to the International Jet Ski Competition on July 10-21 and the 62nd Potomac River Festival on June 7-9. Members of the Chamber work very hard to promote the Beach and offer events  sponsoring and co-sponsoring events throughout the year. The Board of Directors of the Chamber are; Vice President Maryann day of the Beach Bazaar, Treasurer Carey Paradis of Union First Bank, Director Ed Blunt of the Lighthouse Restaurant and Bayside Marina,  Director Shirley Hinrichs of the Monroe  Bay Inn Bed and Breakfast,  Director Joyce Thor of Jarretthor Fine Arts, Kyle Shick of the Colonial Beach yacht center, and Pat Ward of Patrick H. Ward CPA. Closely working with the Chamber is office manager Mattie Lillard.

Carey then brought Keynote Speaker John “Sparkey” Lewis to the podium. Lewis has been involved in the Partnership of Warrenton, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering economic and aesthetic development in old town Warrenton  since 1990. With Mr. Lewis was John Cheatwood,  President of the Partnership and his wife Sarah.  Sparky has been a Town Councilman for the past 24 years and as owner of Burke Concrete, a successful business, has a vested interest in the development of Warrenton. He discussed the trials and tribulations and eventual success of the Partnership. He began by knocking on the door of every business to gain cooperation.  The aim was to improve infrastructure and to beautify old town. The Partnership worked hard to obtain financial support from  the town  and the county and with funding from both and a series of successful fund raising projects was able  to accomplish their goals without ever closing any business more than five minutes. Today, the partnership is still working hard and continues improving the area. The speech was relevant as the beach is facing many of the same issues.

After breaking for an incredible dinner that was both delicious and artistic, Carey once more took to the podium to present awards. Business of the Year award was given to Denson’s Grocery. Rocky Denson represents the third generation to have a Denson’s Store in town. Geddes called it a “legacy.” Laughingly,  Carey described seeing  Denson  shucking oysters outside on some of the coldest winter Saturdays. Denson’s Grocery and nightly dinners are both affordable and delicious and the town benefits from this great service.

The Chamber’s Business Person of the Year for 2012 was Lisa Santiago.  Santiago is business development officer for NSWC Federal Credit Union in King George. Her organization has helped sponsor activities for the Town of Colonial Beach, The Historical Society, The High School, The Colonial Beach Foundation (of which she is a member), The Rod Run to the Beach and St. Mary’s Church. She also teaches, leads fund raising, translates  and more for New Life Ministries. She is active in the entire region and internationally. She makes parachutes to drop Christian materials over guerilla infested areas in Columbia and she and her family make annual charity visits to Chiapas, Mexico. Carey noted how fortunate we are to have snared a portion of her “unbounded” energy.

The Colonial Beach Officer of the Year Award went to Sara Lombrana. Lieutenant Ron Webster came forward to present the plaque. Webster commented on the work Lombrana has done since joining the force and said she was very deserving of this honor.

A special award was then presented to a man the town has called “Coach” for 34 years. Coach Steve Swope who is retiring, has had an amazing career in Colonial Beach. He has been a physical education instructor serving both the elementary and high school at different times and he’s coached both baseball and basketball. Geddes began, ”He has been instrumental in shaping many amazing athletes in his tenure as teacher and coach throughout his time with CB combined schools. He has introduced many different programs to the area that have really made sports available to all age groups.  He started youth basketball for the younger kids in the community and headed up an annual baseball and basketball camp in the summer months, both of which have been very successful and an integral part of shaping young talent in the region. Coach has been a shining example of both an excellent instructor and a great coach and has reminded us all many times over how important sports are to our youth. He has set the bar very high and we would just like to thank  him for all his hard work over the last 34 years.”

Last but not least, Geddes presented the Friends of the Chamber Awards. These people were responsible for all the many events the town enjoys over the year. Volunteers are an integral part of our community.  Receiving awards this year were; Rhonda Pitts, Lorene Rich, Barbara Darby, Debbie Ey, Betty Whitestone, Dot Almassy, Bryan and Vickie Coffman, Dominick and Charlene Salemi, Larry Roberson,. Bryan Pemberton, Tom Brown, Wes Jackson, Zedda Viets, Paul Gardener, Carl Thor, Sherry Hutchins, Leslie Milleson and Amy Rye. The next time you attend the Rod Run, Potomac River Festival, Santa’s Winter Wonderland, Rockfish tournament, Arts and Crafts Festival, Jet Ski competition  or the many other events in the beach, keep in mind that there are dedicated volunteers who have given their time and energy to make all this happen. When you pick up your 2013 Guide, don’t take it or the events listed for this year for granted.  The Chamber of Commerce and its many supporters have cared enough to make all the things we admire about this very special community happen.

Concluding the evening, Carey thanked Noi Singsanin  and the Lighthouse Restaurant for hosting the event for the Chamber. He also thanked the Lighthouse Staff for doing a great job and Director Shirley Hinrichs for putting the event together.