Chamber’s Annual Awards Features Caldwell, Grimm
With more than 350 attendees on hand, the event featured a tailgating-style luncheon for the crowd, most of whom were dressed in their favorite sports team’s apparel. The luncheon, whose premier sponsor was Bristol Motor Speedway, featured a look back at all the business successes of 2016, as well as a look toward 2017.
BMS Executive Vice-President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell, who was one of the featured speakers, took part in a question-and-answer session with emcee Jack Dempsey, General Manager of News 5 WCYB FOX Tri-Cities WEMT. Caldwell also gave away tickets to the April and August NASCAR events, along with the June NHRA race, to three lucky winners.
Justin Grimm, pitcher for the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, who played baseball at Virginia High School, was also a special guest. Grimm took part in a question-and-answer session with Dempsey and delighted the crowd by giving away autographed pictures, baseballs and even the Cubs’ jersey he was wearing.
Chamber Chairman of the Board Jim Maxwell, who stepped down after two successful terms, was recognized for his service with a gift from the Chamber, as well as an autographed baseball from Grimm. Maxwell, the publisher of the Bristol Herald Courier, handed over the gavel to 2017 Chairman of the Board, Janice Jones, President of United Southeast Federal Credit Union.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the family of Francis Lee “Frank” Leonard, who owned several successful businesses in Bristol, including Electro-Mechanical Corporation, Line Power Manufacturing Corporation and Federal Pacific Transformer Company. Leonard was also known for his philanthropy, having donated millions of dollars to Bristol Regional Medical Center, and for his many years of charitable and volunteer work with United Way of Bristol.
Other winners were Dianna Necessary (Ambassador of the Year), Charles Earhart (Keep Bristol Beautiful Service Award), Karen Hester (Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Service Award) and Melissa Horton (Leadership Service Award).
The Virginia High Bearcat Band was on hand to perform the National Anthem, and also played “Go Cubs, Go,” to introduce Grimm.