Chamber honors DeVenney’s contributions

Published 6:41pm Friday, January 17, 2014

There was bad news and good news at Thursday night’s We­tumpka Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, according to Executive Director Vanessa Lynch.

“The bad news is that our guest speaker Tyrone Prothro had an emergency and can’t be here,” she told attendees. “The good news is that all of you tickets holders will have a chance to meet him at a private meet and greet in February.”

Despite Prothro’s absence the 27th annual dinner meeting moved forward smoothly, celebrating the past year’s accomplishments and recognizing various individuals and businesses for their contributions.

A special lifetime achievement award was presented to Shirley DeVenney, honoring her late husband Jack DeVenney.

“We all sit in the shade of a tree someone else planted,” said Keyesta Sherman, who presented the award. “Jack was responsible for starting so many things here – Christmas on the Coosa, the Fourth of July celebration, the New Year’s Eve event and even establishing the chamber.

“He gave not only of his time but his money. He will be remembered by all who enjoy the shade of the trees he planted.”

Rebecca Thornton received the Community Involvement Citation, which is awarded based on “demonstrating a high degree of unselfish civic service to the citizens of the Wetumpka area in multiple ways and over an extended period of time.”

Randy Morgan received the William F. Sahlie Award, given for outstanding service to the chamber.

Retiring chamber board members and chamber ambassadors were also recognized for their service. Those attaining 10 and 20 year membership in the chamber were also honored.

Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis welcomed attendees to open the program and shared information about some of the plans unfolding in the city.

“There are exciting things going on,” he said. “In the spring we’ll be working with infrastructure to start revitalization of downtown.

“We want to seek people walking, shopping and biking in downtown. There’s a lot of design going into it.”

Willis said other pending projects include continuation of the riverwalk on ­Poarch Creek Indian property and up the west bank of the Coosa River. He added that work on additional fields a the sports complex and a redesign of the Martin Luther King Center will also begin soon.

“It didn’t start with this council,” he said. “Those before us laid the groundwork.”

Lynch encouraged attendees to work together to maximize the possibilities offered by the city’s growth.

“Wetumpka’s obviously changing,” she said. “We’re going from a small town to a big small town. We want to preserve the character of our city while making it better.”

Outgoing President Barry Chrietzberg said the past year was an exciting one.

“It was a great year for me,” he said. “We didn’t finish everything, but we started a lot of things.”

Chrietzberg passed the gavel to incoming President Cody Williamson.

“My mom always said to leave it better than you found it,” said Williamson. “I don’t know if I can do that, but I’m going to try.

“With everything going on, I know the downtown are is going to blossom and the chamber wants to help with that. We look forward to a big 2014.”

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