Chamber honors local involvement

By Billy Corriher

The Clayton County Chamber of Commerce inducted its 2004 Board of Directors and awarded businesses for their involvement in the community at its 50th annual banquet Saturday night in College Park. The theme of the banquet was "Children of Clayton County are our Future."

Pete Meadows, this year's chairman of the board of directors, honored Allan Vigil Ford as the Chamber's Business of the Year. The auto dealership was chosen for its commitment to the county, its support of the Chamber and the business' longevity.

"Their leadership is second to none and their contribution to the Chamber is enormous," Meadows said, pointing to Allan Vigil's involvement with Clayton 20/20 and his service on the Board of Regents for the University System of Georgia.

Former board chairwoman Claudia Mertl was presented with the Carl G. Rhodenizer Community Service Award for her involvement with the local Rotary Club, Salvation Army, Arts Clayton, the American Cancer Society, and other organizations.

Outgoing chairwoman Cathy Gauder received the Athena Award, which recognizes an outstanding businesswoman in the county.

"(Gauder) has dedicated countless hours to making this county and the entire Atlanta region a better place," said last year's Athena recipient, Delores Gallego.

The Chairman's Award, which honors the Chamber's "Volunteer of the Year," was given to Mitch Johnson, who Gauder said has "worked tirelessly for the chamber."

Gauder also officially "passed the gavel" to Meadows, who remarked on the Chamber's accomplishments in the past year, and what's in store for the future.

Meadows commended the Chamber for relocating its offices, adding more benefits for its members and getting a better relationship with Clayton College & State University.

Meadows also addressed the Chamber's search for a new president since the departure of former President Shane Moody.

The search committee has been reviewing applicants, but is not in a hurry to select a candidate, he said.

"We're not going to rush," he said. "There's not a time limit on our search."