Chamber hosts banquet, presents awards
The Union County Chamber of Commerce celebrated the successes of the past year at the organization's annual banquet.
The banquet was Thursday night, Dec. 8, at Von Jakob Vineyard near Alto Pass.
The evening began with a social hour, which was followed by dinner and an awards program.
During the awards program, the chamber honored a business of the year, a new business of the year and citizen of the year. A business improvement award was presented.
Those honored at the banquet included:
•Peter Derks, owner of Whiffle Boys in Anna, which was honored as the business of the year.
•Nicole Apple, marketing director for the River to River Residential Corporation, which recently opened its new Anna community and was honored as the new business of the year.
•Christel and Jim Prater, owners of Postal Pal in Anna, which received the chamber's business improvement award.
•Alan Eddington, a Cobden resident who was honored as the citizen of the year for his continued work involving a variety of community projects.
When Eddington accepted his award, he shared the following comments:
"Late Saturday afternoon, December 3, I had an experience in downtown Cobden that provided the kind of motivation for me to be so involved in my community.
"It was 5 p.m., and the final event of Cobden's Christmas in the Village celebration was about to take place.
"A large crowd had gathered in Cobden's downtown park to witness the lighting of the village Christmas tree.
"Santa and Mrs. Claus were there, along with Cobden's Mayor Molly Beckley.
"The mayor had just requested the crowd to spend a moment or two in quiet reflection.
"As the crowd grew silent, I looked around at the crowd and saw a truly heartwarming collection of people.
Assembled were families, seniors, young people, folks from our Hispanic community, multigeneration Cobdenites, as well as newcomers.
"Regardless though of their age or background, we were all gathered as a community to celebrate and
express our pride in Cobden, the place we call home.
"Then, in the silence, two of the village's churches began ringing their bells.
"Being one of the founders of Cobden's Christmas in the Village celebration, I was absolutely overwhelmed as I listened to the bells echo across the village.
"For here in front of me, the proclamation of angels twenty centuries ago was being renewed in 2011, in our little village: 'Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men'!"
(Note: Martha Ann Webb, who writes the Anna News for The Gazette-Democrat, contributed to this story.)