Here at OTELCO, we believe that our customers are the most important part of our business. That is why OTELCO has been making an effort to strengthen our community presences in Blount County. In December, we participated in the Festival of Lights, competing in the tree decorating contest and handing out cookies to tots visiting Santa. In the spirit of continuing those efforts, OTELCO’s marketing team took another trip to Oneonta just last week, to attend the Blount-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Banquet and to visit with the Friend’s of the Locust Fork River. It was a really fun trip, and we are excited to share our experience with you in this week’s blog.
Blount Oneonta Chamber of Commerce
2019 marked the 36th Blount Oneonta Chamber of Commerce Banquet, and as OTELCO discovered, it is a very popular local event. When we called to reserve seats at the event, a month in advance, the banquet was already sold out. If it weren’t for the southern-hospitality of the Oneonta community, we wouldn’t have been able to make it. Lucky for us, when the Friends of the Locust Fork River discovered we were on the banquet wait-list, they offered our team seats at their table. Thanks to them we were able to enjoy the delicious dinner, entertainment and awards reception.
The awards ceremony was a true testament to the camaraderie of Blount County. The space was full of supportive neighbors, there to cheer on their fellow Blounteons as they received their hard-won recognition. As for the recipients, they were all humble and grateful as they accepted awards for everything from volunteerism to education.
Here is a list of this year’s Blount-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce award recipients:
- Pat Bellew Citizen of the Year: Allen Neel
- Charles Carr Volunteer of the Year: Nancy Jackson
- Industry of the Year: Alabama Guardrail
- Business of the Year: The Blount Countian
- Emerging Business of the Year: Grapes and Hops
- Eldridge Bynum Award for Community Service: Covered Bridge Players
- Blount County Schools Teachers of the Year Jennifer Priest and Grindl Weldon
- Oneonta City Schools Teachers of the Year: Sande McElvey, Erica Whited, and Idania Gonzalez
- Ambassadors of the Year:
- Kara Cornelius of Appalachian
- Emily Reed of Cleveland
- Harlee Kate Reif of Hayden
- Courtney Kramer of JB Pennington
- Cassidy Riddle of Locust Fork
- Jacky Chen of Oneonta
- Albert Tinney of Southeastern
- Michael Ogles of Susan Moore
OTELCO was so blown away by the Chamber Banquet that we decided to become Sustaining Partners. Being a Sustaining Partner is an excellent opportunity for us to support the chamber while becoming more involved in the Blount County community. We will now be able to participate in a host of community events, including the annual Covered Bridge festival this summer. Since our reorganization and brand update in 2018, we have been working diligently to better connect with the community, this Sustaining Partner sponsorship with the Chamber is one of the ways we can do that.
Friends of the Locust Fork River
Another way OTELCO is reconnecting is through the support of local groups such as the Friends of the Locust Fork River. On Thursday we met up with their project manager Sharon Cook and board member Mari Brindle to explore a portion of the river. Sharon, Mari, and Sharon’s pup Oscar were kind enough to take our team to the historic Easley Covered Bridge and the Dub Branch of the Calvert Prong of the Locust Fork River. During our trip, we learned a lot about the FLFR and the ways they work to bring together the local community.
The FLFR was founded in the early ’90s, to “preserve the natural integrity of the river in its free-flowing state” and the “community that surrounds it.” They protect the river through education, monthly river outings, controlling pollution, and working with other organizations to preserve rivers across the state. Part of the organization’s efforts to involve the Blount County community in the Locust Fork River include a number of free program and events, including:
- River floats
- Monthly River cleanups
- Kayak and Canoe Trips
- White Water Races
- Kids Day on the River
- Guided Hikes
Another exciting FLFR activity is their annual Art and Photo contest. The contest features local photographers and artist of all ages, who use their talents to illustrate the natural beauty surrounding the Locust Fork River. This year’s theme is Celebrating the Woodlands and Rivers of Blount County and will feature works that fall under twelve categories. Each category will be judged by a local business, with winners receiving a $100 prize.
OTELCO is excited to be participating this year as the Habitats and Seasons category judge. OTELCO will feature the winning piece on the cover of this year’s North Central Regional Alabama directory.
Stay Tuned for More!
Thanks to some legwork by Barbara Anderson at the Blount-Oneonta Chamber, we expect to have a venue soon to offer free basic computer classes to the community. We have been offering similar courses in our service areas in New England and West Virginia, and the effort has been very well received. We hope to have more information available very soon.
See you at the Covered Bridge Festival and the Oneonta Business Association Spring Fling too!