By Rebekah Martin
Associate Editor

The Opelika Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting last Thursday at the Bottling Plant Event Center in downtown Opelika. Sponsored by Opelika Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram and River Bank & Trust, the event was the 76th annual meeting.
Chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, Bill Trant, welcomed the crowd of more than 400 people and introduced the sponsors. Gold sponsors included Baxter International, Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home and Crematory, CMG Mortgage, Opelika Utilities and Southern Union State Community College.
Every year, the Opelika Chamber of Commerce awards businesses and citizens with various awards during its annual meeting, spotlighting those institutions and people who exemplify Opelika values and are a benefit to their community. The winners are listed below:
– Shirley Flora Award – Jerry Williamson
– Auburn Opelika Tourism Award – John Emerald Distilling Co.
– Opelika Main Street Business of the Year – Taylor Made Designs
– Ambassador of the Year – Dianne Lowe
– Community Partner Award – Opelika Historic Preservation Society
– Service Champion Award -Cecil Rogers – Smith T Building Supply
– Small Business of the Year Award -Wright’s Market
– Distinguished Service Award – Tipi Miller
– Spirit of Opelika Award -Brian Blackmon
– Chairman’s Award-Les Davis, Pharmavite.
During the event, the chamber also introduced its 2017-18 20 under 40 class. The program was started by Mayor Gary Fuller and Lucinda Cannon in 2006 as a way to grow and encourage potential community leaders. This year’s class is made up of the following people: Kristine Hill- East Alabama Medical Center; Anna Rickabaugh-Opelika Massage Therapy Center; Andre Marcus – East Alabama Medical Center; Carol Edwards – City of Opelika; Robert Elliott – Elliott & Associates Insurance; Michael D. Carter – CharterBank; Ross Fulford – Hull Property Group/HD Estates LLC; Lakisha Philpot-Johnson – Buffalo Wild Wings; Sefako Tidwell – Lee County Youth Development Center; Rosanna McGinnis – City of Opelika; Terence White – City of Opelika; Anna Coxwell – Cumberland Plastic Solutions; Kimberly S. Jackson – State of Alabama Law Enforcement Agency; Jordan Holladay – Auburn University, Office of UniversityRecruitment; Jan Chamblin – Auburn University, College of Veterinary Medicine; Andrew Click – Lee County Board of Education; Alex Rainey -Elliott & Associates Insurance; Michy Aja -Three Sixty, LLC; Ashley Underwood -Auburn University, Raymond J. Herbert College of Business; Emily Key – Three Keys Properties; Charria Y. Campbell – Southern Union State Community College; Veikko Koski – Baxter Healthcare; Sarah Barnett Gill – Mama Mocha’s; T. Wade Berry – Honors College at Auburn University.
At the meeting’s conclusion, chairman Bill Trant passed the gavel to the board’s newest director, Shey Knight.