As traditions go, the 152nd annual meeting of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce included many of the same ingredients by noting the accomplishments of the past year and looking ahead to the next year.
But Thursdays gathering at Macon State College included something a little different: tears.
When state Rep. Nikki Randall was asked to come forward as the recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award, tears ran down her face as Juanita Jordan described the contributions Randall made toward bringing the Macon-Bibb County consolidation issue to the ballot for voters to make the decision.
She would not give up even when giving up seemed the only thing to do, Jordan said. She negotiated with different members of the delegation, and with tenacity and diplomacy held together the entire delegation as a unified body.
As a state representative, Randall demonstrated extraordinary leadership and a consistent spirit of bipartisan cooperation, a resolute strength of character and an uncanny dedication to what she believed to be in the best interest of all citizens of Macon and Bibb County, Jordan said.
When Jordan concluded her presentation and Randall stepped to the podium she was somewhat at a loss for words, and the tears really kicked in when she realized her family had been brought into the room.
I would have written something, she said.
This community was asking for change, she said after pulling herself together. Its not about what you particularly want, but its about what the community feels it needs to move forward. ... There is no telling what Macon-Bibb County can do.
Randall, who is back in school, said she couldnt stick around long because she had an exam 15 minutes after she was given the award.
Before the awards were announced, some chamber leaders talked about the past year. One of our objectives for 2012 has been to foster and support regional and local partnerships which lead to economic stability and growth, said Leonard Bevill, outgoing chairman of the chamber. We Came Together -- our theme this year -- with others in the region to address the encroachment issue in south Bibb.
Robbo Hatcher, a board of directors member, talked about how the chamber and the Macon Economic Development Commission had forged a much stronger working relationship with the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority. ... The partnerships paid off in 2012, resulting in $59 million in new investment and 212 new jobs.
Starr Purdue, incoming chairwoman of the chamber, said she would implement the strategic plan as approved by the chambers board.
In 2013, we will create an alliance with several regional chambers to move the region forward, Purdue said. We will continue regional workforce events ... We will foster and support efforts, locally and regionally, which lead to economic stability and growth.
In addition to Randall, others recognized with awards during the event were:
Robert F. Hatcher Award: Lynn Farmer for her efforts with Leadership Macon.
Economic Development Champions: Chuck ONeal, chairman of the Central Georgia Joint Development Authority, Ralph Nix and staff of Middle Georgia Regional Commission and Joni Wolff, who has worked with the Regional Commission on the south Bibb County encroachment issue.
Chairmans Team Award (changed from the Chairmans Award) : Scott Siegel, Thomas Wicker, Robbo Hatcher, Jason Delves, Starr Purdue, Dan Forrester, George Greer, Cyndey Busbee, Brigitte Moten, Walt Miller and Dan Slagle
During the reception following the program, the jazz ensemble from Southwest High School performed.