COVID stopped a lot of things but it did not stop businesses in Clarksdale and it did not stop people from serving their community.
The Clarksdale Chamber of Commerce celebrated the revival of the annual banquet following a hiatus last year during the pandemic, and named two Businesses of the Year and two Citizens of the Year this fall.
The Chamber celebrated its 75th Annual Banquet Tuesday night at The Pinnacle on the campus of Coahoma Community College.
Dr. Peggy J. Wells of the Clarksdale Children’s Clinic and Hartley Kittle owner of Hartley’s Greenhead Outdoors were named Clarksdale’s Citizens of the Year for 2021 and 2020 respectively. Sound Center’s Jimmy and Jean Harris were recipients of the 2020 Business of the Year Award and Janet Benzing, Administrator of Delta Health Northwest Regional accepted the 2021 Business of the Year award for the hospital.
“Rural America has seen plenty of struggles over the past year, and we’ve come through it,” said Chamber Executive Jon Levingston. “It’s about our people and Clarksdale has those people and businesses.”
Levingston pointed out the Citizen of the Year is the community’s highest honor and only bestowed on people who have a proven track record of building and promoting the community.
“I am extremely honored and think about the people who have been named Citizen of The Year,” said Kittle. “I say there are three types of people in Clarksdale: Those who live in the community but don’t do much; those who live off the community; and those – like people in this room – who live for this community.”
Dr. Wells thanked her family, friends and staff who helped make Clarksdale Children’s Clinic a success.
“You have allowed us to provide healthcare to the children of this community,” said Wells. “To that I will add that the Lord is my strength.”
The Sound Center’s Harris thanked his bookkeeper and wife Jean, and a community that has supported them through the years.
“This is our home and this is an honor,” said Harris. “I want to again say thank you to our friends, those who do business with us and who have helped us through the year.”
Benzing thanked the community for the reception Delta Health System has had over the past year in Clarksdale.
“I’m speechless, but so excited about this award,” said Benzing. “I can’t tell you what a privilege it is to serve a community like Clarksdale.”
The crowd was welcomed to The Pinnacle by Community College President Valmadge Town. Coahoma County Board of Supervisors President Johnny Newson said it has been a tough two years but Coahoma County has seen good things happen during the pandemic. Clarksdale Mayor Chuck Espy said the city is on the downside of the pandemic and it was good to see faces once again at the Annual Banquet.
The Chamber also recognized and thanked out-going Chamber Board President Dianne Mitchell for serving for the past two year. The Annual Banquet also saw Fred Cohen installed at Chamber Board President for 2021-22.
Clarksdale Municipal Court Clerk and assistant City Clerk Lynn Logan was named the City Employee of the year.
Those gathered also heard performances by the CCC Women of Excellence and the CCC Barbershop Quartet. The audience was also moved to stand when the combined choir sang “America The Beautiful.”
Established in 1917 the Clarksdale Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to promote the businesses and business interests of Clarksdale and Coahoma County.
Under the Crossroads Economic Development Partnership, The Chamber, the Industrial Foundation and the Economic Development Authority of Coahoma County have welcomed six project providing hundreds of jobs to the community over the past four years.
The Chamber Board of Directors are:
• President Elect, Fred Cohen
• Past President, Dianne Mitchell
• Vice President, Julie Flowers
• Vice President, Demetria Jackson
• Treasurer, Cindy Holt
• Past President, Suresh Chawla
• Industrial Foundation President, Ed Peacock
• Kyrie Antici
• Dr. Nikki Cager
• Dan Cirilli
• Henry Dorsey
• Greg Hoskins
• John Morson
• Jim Schnadelbach
• Terry Smith
Ex Officio members are Mayor Espy and Supervisor President Newson.