It was a bittersweet evening as the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce gathered to honor excellence in business during its 96th Annual Weatherford Chamber Banquet. On Tuesday, both business men and women filled the banquet room at The Springs not only to honor those for excellent business practices, but to also say good-bye to President Tammy Gazzola, who has decided to step down as the chamber president at the end of the year.
“Helen Keller once said ‘Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much,’” Gazzola said. “I thought about our community and us as a chamber. We want to see each other succeed, we want to see our friends and neighbors do well. That doesn’t happen in every community - we are very unique.”
Gazzola said in the last year the chamber has welcomed 149 new members.
“We’re the 6th largest chamber in the DFW area,” Gazzola added. “That means we’re behind chambers like Irving, Fort Worth, Arlington...that’s kind of a big deal.”
She said the chamber celebrated more than 90 ribbon cuttings and saw more than 32,000 attend this year’s Peach Festival.
“These accomplishment were not made just by the chamber staff, but by our community, the chamber members and sponsors; by all of us working together,” Gazzola said. “I look forward to seeing it taken to a new level.”
As for the awards, Chick-Fil-A won the Large Business Award.
“Our corporate purpose is to glorify God through all that’s entrusted to us. Too be a faithful steward and have a positive influence to all that come in contact with Chick-Fil-A,” Manager Phillip Smith said. “That’s what we strive to do.”
Shep’s Place won the Small Business of the Year award.
“I don’t know what to say,” said owner John Shepherd. “This last year has been amazing and we could not have done it without the support of this town and everyone here tonight. It’s been fun.”
The prestigious Athena Award was given to Beverly Branch. Since its inception in 1982 has been presented to more than 6,000 recipients in more than 500 countries around the world. It’s an honor for professional excellence, community service and actively assisting women in reaching their full leadership potential.
“This is a real honor,” Branch said. “It’s a real privilege to be in this community.”
The James H. Doss Award honors those who practice philanthropic activities in addition to principled business practices. This year’s award went to Amy and George Mercer.
“My belief and my parents belief was if you are part of a community - you invest in that community,” Mercer said. “You don’t do it out of obligation, but you do it out of community.”
Mercer said one of the things he loves about Weatherford is the pioneer spirit.
“We don’t wait for the government to come, we do it ourselves,” he said. “Everybody invest - and everybody helps. You are an amazing group of people.”
The final award for the evening, the Outstanding Citizen Award, was given to Pastor Van Houser of North Side Baptist Church.
“I’ve met some of the most wonderful people in this town,” an emotional Houser said. “They’ve been a blessing in my life. I hope you feel the heartfelt thanks for letting me be a part of your community.”
The Ambassador of the Year award went to Laura Tuley.