Chamber holds annual banquet

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 23, 2003

With tear-filled eyes, incoming Pike County Chamber of Commerce president Jenniffer Barner thanked all of those who had helped her through her career with the chamber.

One person that stood out in her career though, she said, was outgoing president Marsha Gaylard.

As she fought back more tears, she talked of all the experience and accomplishments that Gaylard had helped her to gain. And, when Sheila Jackson began to sing &uot;Wind Beneath My Wings,&uot; - dedicating it to Gaylard – the dam holding back her tears broke.

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And with that, a new era in Chamber leadership began.

Gaylard, not to disappear from the community development scene, will go on to head the Pike County Economic Development Corporation, a new wing of the chamber that Gaylard says will allow her to focus on a growing part of the community.

&uot;This is probably the most exciting and the saddest night of my life all at the same time,&uot; she said. &uot;Economic development has grown tremendously over the last few years and I feel honored to continue my commitment to this community.&uot;

Sentiment and energy filled the room, as Gaylard both closed a chapter in her career and, hopefully she said, opened up a new one for the area.

&uot;With all the progressions in economic development recently, the leaders felt we needed a separate wing of the chamber to handle that,&uot; she said. &uot;I've dedicated my life to the Chamber and I feel honored to be given the opportunity to be given this opportunity.&uot;

While Gaylard confessed it saddened her to be giving up &uot;her baby,&uot; she was confident Barner would be able to continue the traditions and success of the chamber.

&uot;I can't think of anyone I would rather turn the chamber over to than Jenniffer,&uot; she said proudly. Turning to Jenniffer, she added: &uot;Thank you for helping make the last few years the most remarkable of my life.&uot;

Barner said she never expected to be standing in her own shoes Thursday night, addressing hundreds of politicos, business and community leaders as chamber president.

&uot;I'm so honored to be given this opportunity,&uot; she said. &uot;I want to thank all of you for helping me do my job. Thanks to my family for giving me the time and opportunity to do what I love.&uot;

Incoming Chamber Board Chairman Dr. Jean Laliberte was also pleased to be a part of the chamber and its progressive mission.

&uot;I'm so glad to have such a wonderful board to work with,&uot; she said.

Laliberte follows Gary Guthrie, who is leaving as chair but will remain on the chamber board.

Other board members listed for 2002-2003 include:

Cheryl DiChiara, first vice-chair; Bill Sanders, second vice-chair; Alton Starling, treasurer/financial; Alex Whaley II; Vickie Bowen; Shirley Boykin; Jim Caldwell; Driscoll Colquett and Kelly Baxter.

The meeting continued on into the night, with dancing and a special PowerPoint presentation tribute to Gaylard.