ASHEBORO — A school, a family business, a tourist attraction, a public servant and three energetic women were the big winners at the 97th Annual Meeting Dinner & Awards Ceremony on Jan. 27 at Pinewood Country Club.
The awards presentation began with Business of the Year, which went to Randolph Community College. Last year’s winner, Dr. Thomas Osteen of RhinoLeap Productions, said that an “in‐depth economic impact analysis found (RCC) has a $101.4 million annual impact on the regional economy — supporting more than 2,350 jobs (which translates to 1 out of every 27 jobs across Randolph County). The impact of the increased earnings by their alumni and the businesses they work for totaled $75.9 million.”
Accepting the award was Interim President Elbert Lassiter: “It’s a great honor to work at Randolph Community College, creating opportunities and changing lives. I want to thank the Board of Trustees and the Foundation. And thank (retired president) Bob Shackleford for your great leadership.”
Trotters Sewing Company was presented the Industry of the Year award by Hal Johnson, county manager. He said the company was started in 1992 with just 600 square feet of factory space. That has grown to more than 60,000 square feet, modernizing technology and equipment while maintaining a small-family business environment.
Todd Trotter, president, accepted the honor, saying, “Thank you to the Chamber, and thank you Mom and Dad (Barbara and Jerry Trotter) for starting the business.”
The Organization of the Year Award was presented to the NC Zoo and the Zoo Society by Tawanna Williams of the Randolph Senior Adults Association. “This organization is like no other in Randolph County,” she said. “Their impact is not just felt here in our county. It’s felt across North Carolina and even in foreign countries.”
Pat Simmons, executive director, said, “The zoo is here because of you (the people of Randolph County). You made it happen. Thank you.”
Josh Britton of Mount Shepherd Retreat Center revealed the Emerging Leader of the Year as Chelsey Butler, recently named the first-ever public information officer for Randolph County. Britton said Butler’s “ability to engage and communicate with all segments of our community — not to mention her overall trustworthiness … caught the attention of Randolph County.”
“I believe y’all tricked me,” Butler said as she accepted the award. “Thank everybody for supporting me in all I do, and a shout-out to my mother and father for their support.”
Volunteer of the Year was announced by Brad Crumpler as someone who “has dedicated countless hours since 2018 to helping build our connections to a younger generation of leaders and members. Please join me in congratulating Randolph County native, Kirsten Stovall.”
“I felt really blessed to call Randolph County home,” she said, “and blessed to be an intern at the Chamber of Commerce. Thank you so much. Wow, such an honor!”
The Athena Award was presented to Sandra Lail of Sapona Plastics by Susan Hayes. “She has directly mentored several women in her company to build a deep bench for the organization. She is well‐known in the community for her volunteer work serving on the Randolph/Asheboro YMCA Board as well as her involvement with the Boys and Girls Club and several others throughout the community.”
“I love Randolph County and my job and helping employees grow,” Lail said. “I wouldn’t be here without Jack Lail. I’m very surprised.”
Neal Griffin presented the Citizen of the Year Award to Allen McNeill, retired from the Sheriff’s Office and as a representative in the General Assembly. “This year’s recipient spent 43 years in public service for Randolph County and North Carolina,” Griffin said. “He spent 36 of them with the Randolph County Sheriff’s office and served as a state representative for North Carolina’s 78th District from 2012-2023. Most recently, he was instrumental in bringing $16 million to Randolph County’s Farm, Food, and Family Education Center project, as well as supporting countless other projects during his tenure.”
“I’m just shocked, at a loss for words,” McNeill said. “The honor of my life has been to serve with the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office and represent Randolph County and Moore County. Thank you and God bless.”
Earlier in the event, Mary Lisk and Darwin Smith took the gavel as 2023 Chamber Board co-chairs. Bob Shackleford and Linda Brown were inducted into the Red Jacket Club.