Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce holds 107th annual celebration

Published 3:36 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2023

The Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce held its 107th annual banquet last Thursday, April 27 at the Civic Center.

The banquet opened with an invocation by Rev. Bill Elwell of First United Methodist Church. Mayor Woody Collins spoke afterward and gave a statement on the city and expressed his pride in how Demopolis continues to improve on itself.

“Demopolis has got it going on. We have got so many wonderful projects underway, some of which haven’t been made public yet,” said Collins. “But I’m telling you it is amazing what we’ve got going on right now. The best is ahead for Demopolis and I am proud of each and every one of you.”

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Six awards were presented during the banquet. The first award of the night was the Community Spirit Award presented to Batter Up Sports Bar and Grill. Batter Up is a popular spot to eat in Demopolis and is well-known for its sports entertainment, Trivia Nights, and for having the best boneless wings in town. The award was presented by Rob Pearson to owner Jason Windham.

Batter Up Sports Bar and Grill was presented with The Community Spirit Award 2023 at the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce banquet last Thursday, April 27. Owner Jason Windham (right) accepted the award. Picture with him is Chamber President Derrick Hester.

“I want to say thank you all very much. It’s been a blessing and I’ve told people I can’t imagine living anywhere else than Demopolis. We love it here. But I want to give you a good example of what Demopolis is. We did a fundraiser for Aa’llyah, and this community put together five thousand dollars for this young girl,” said Windham. “That’s not me. That’s Demopolis, that’s Marengo County, that is who we are and that’s what makes it so great to be here because people never say no. That’s bigger than me or anyone and that is what makes it special to be from Demopolis.”

The second award of the night was the Chamber Volunteer Award presented to Jennifer Helms. Helms is a fifth-grade teacher at U.S. Jones Elementary School and a volunteer for several organizations in Demopolis, particularly Christmas on the River. Helms praised her students for volunteering their time to help with the floats at the COTR warehouse.

Jennifer Helms received the Chamber Volunteer Award 2023 at the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce banquet last Thursday, April 27. Picture with her is Chamber President Derrick Hester.

The next award was the Citizen of the Year award presented to Rhae Darsey of Main Street Demopolis. Collins said that Darsey’s involvement in the community was instilled in her by her parents and grandparents who were and are active members of the community.

Rhae Darsey was presented with The Citizen of the Year Award 2023 at the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce banquet last Thursday, April 27. Picture with her is Chamber President Derrick Hester.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there are a lot of places that we could live, and we chose Demopolis. And that’s because of the community and its family,” said Darsey. “I thank you all so much for taking care of me, trusting me, and for supporting me. And just wait, because we are just getting started.”

The Business of the Year Award was presented to Plaza Golf Carts and was accepted by David McGee. The golf cart business began in 1983 and began selling to local people before branching out to dealers from across the country.

Plaza Golf Carts was presented with The Business of the Year Award 2023 at the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce banquet last Thursday, April 27. David McGee (left) accepted the award for the business. Picture with him is Chamber President Derrick Hester.

“If I have one thing to say about Demopolis is that it is the number one town in the nation. We go after businesses and we are good people, so let’s keep doing what we’re doing,” said McGee.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Annye Braxton who founded the Braxton Senior Adult Daycare. Braxton came to Demopolis from Birmingham “as a young bride” 70 years ago. Braxton noted the many changes of Demopolis from the 1950s to the present and said that it “has changed for the better.”

Annye Braxton was presented with The Lifetime Achievement Award 2023 at the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce banquet last Thursday, April 27. Picture with her is Chamber President Derrick Hester.

“The amazing thing now is that we have a city structure that is inclusive of everyone who lives here. I am so happy to be able to witness that,” said Braxton.

DHS senior Peter “Trey” Bucurel received the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award. Bucurel is the Salutatorian of his graduating class, is an active member of his church where he leads Bible school classes, he is a COTR volunteer with over 100 logged hours, and is involved in FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America).

Peter “Trey” Bucurel (left) was presented with The Youth Volunteer Award 2023 at the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce banquet last Thursday, April 27. Pictured with him is Chamber President Derrick Hester.

“It’s a great honor to receive this award. Someone asked me ‘What makes you who you are today?’ and I said it was Demopolis because we are such a community oriented town. It’s something you don’t really see elsewhere,” said Bucurel. “So I thank everyone for this award and the people who helped me get here today.”

Derrick Hester takes his oath as he is sworn in as the new Chamber President by outgoing President Amy Duke.

The banquet concluded with Chamber President Amy Duke stepping down from her position and swearing in her successor, Derrick Hester.