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Chamber recognizes community standouts
Kelly Marlowe award
Kelly Marlowe, right, is recognized with the Chamber’s Distinguished Citizen Award by Jason Hillis.

All the “Town Talk” has been about Kelly Marlowe receiving the Distinguished Citizen Award at the Chamber of Commerce banquet Monday night.

The popular radio show host was praised for his community service, which includes starting an annual fundraiser called Nursing Home Christmas. The project provides gifts for nursing home residents with no family members.

Marlowe said Nursing Home Christmas is a program only made possible by the generosity of Warren County residents.

“I see so many faces here tonight who have sent us checks over the years,” said Marlowe. “I started it, but it’s the people right here who keep it going. People talk about Nashville, Tennessee as being an ‘it’ city and then you hear how long it takes to get from one side to the other. I’ll take McMinnville, Tennessee any day. I love it.”

In presenting the award, Jason Hillis said, “Every community needs certain people who act like glue binding us together, people who turn a community into a place people can call home. These people participate in civic events, forge new connections, show up when things need to be done and look for new ways they can make a difference in the lives of others.”

The Free Enterprise Award was given to Keval Sheth, owner of Tree City Wine and Spirits.

“This individual is an entrepreneur. He’s an innovator,” said Jon Flanders of Botanico, last year’s winner, in presenting the honor. “He’s an idealist in thought and a realist in planning. And he’s also a successful business owner who treats people with respect and appreciation. Keval Sheth has completely embraced local business ownership and all the things that make our community unique. The community has embraced him right back.”

In accepting the award, Sheth said, “We do have a few more things up our sleeves.”

The Edwin Partin Retailer of the Year went to Ross & Co., operated by master barber Christy Ross. It was noted by presenters Matt and Anna Sands that Ross was selected to sit on the Barber Board by the governor and has been in the profession 28 years.

“We could go on and on regarding her character, but just know she will call the cops on you if you leave your dog in the car on a warm day,” said Matt.

Ross is a county commissioner representing the 1st District and she also serves on the Tourism Development Board.

The Community Impact Award was presented to the Power of 100, a service organization. In presenting the award, hospital CEO Dale Humphrey noted Power of 100 has contributed more than $54,000 to five nonprofits in less than two years of existence.

Carrie Huckey accepted on behalf of the local organization which was formed in 2018. She said the donations are possible thanks to the contributions of the 150 ladies who have joined.

Among the nonprofits helped by Power of 100 are Hamilton Street Activity Center, Families in Crisis, McMinnville Special Games, Meals on Wheels and Kids of the Community.

Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Jason Pitts. Presenting the honor was last year’s winner, Bill Zechman.

“He has been so involved with the many programs of the Chamber over the last few years that he is often referred to as the Chamber Boot Camp Recruit,” said Zechman. “He was a member of the core volunteer group that helped launch McMinnville Young Professionals.”

Jason Hillis was honored as Chamber Ambassador of the Year for his ongoing support of the organization.