Honoring Demopolis’ best

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 7, 2006

One of the most anticipated events in Demopolis each year is the Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner and awards ceremony.

Much of the anticipation is associated with the speaker, but a great deal of energy also surrounds the recognition of worthy businesses and individuals.

This year, four more citizens and two businesses were honored for their constant efforts to make Demopolis a wonderful place to work and live.

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The Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year always represents a person who always does their best to give back to the community, usually behind the scenes.

2005 Chamber Chairman Charles Singleton said this year’s recipient, Burnquetta Johnson, was a very special person to the city.

Johnson was overcome with emotion when her name was announced, but still had time for a joke and to address her students.

“I’m just doing what my mama always told me to do,” Johnson said. “She told me to work hard, do what you are supposed to do, and keep your mouth closed.”

Johnson said she was pleased to see some of her former students in the crowd.

“I would like to thank all of my students out there,” Johnson said. “I am really proud of you and I hope I have done something at this time to make you feel proud of me.”

Probably, the second most anticipated award, the Lifetime Achievement award, was given to Judge Claude Neilson.

Neilson said he hoped he had many more good deeds in store for Demopolis.

“This is a big award and I am proud to receive this,” Neilson said. “I hope I have many more years left to devote to further improving Demopolis.”

The Community Volunteer of the Year was presented to Kayte Melton. Melton taught school for over 30 years in Demopolis before retiring. She now works with the Alabama Reading Initiative as a Reading Specialist. She is also

active in several groups around town including Two Rivers Arts Council and Marengo County Historical Society. The Chamber Business Volunteer of the Year Award, which was presented to Collins Communications, followed Melton.

The Chamber’s Business of the Year award was also presented to Foster Farms.

The Volunteer of the Year award went to Jim Parr.