Chamber awards local business, industry of the year
by Emily Adams
The Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce held its 72nd annual awards banquet at J. Craig Smith Community Center on Thursday night with the theme “The Sky’s the Limit – Taking Sylacauga to New Heights.”

The theme was aptly recognized throughout the event, as guests heard a speech on the recovering Alabama economy from Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey and the Chamber honored several local businesses that have made recent improvements or expansions.

“In the last year, we have watched as new industry begins, the high school expands, downtown merchants began facelifts on their businesses,” said Chamber Director Carol Bates. “Yes, our economy is not yet back, but we’re starting to see that light at the end of the tunnel.”

Among the honorees of the evening was Connie Wright, who was awarded Citizen of the Year by the Beautification Council. Council President Bill Roberts introduced Wright, wife of the late Mayor Sam Wright who died in August, as a person who never looked for accolades and “has always been in the background of almost every project that has happened in Sylacauga.”

“I can’t thank you enough,” Wright said. “I gave you my husband. I really did do that, and I will take credit for that, because he loved this town, and he loved each one of you.”

Wright encouraged the crowd to keep growing Sylacauga.

“The heights we can reach, they are ahead of us,” she said. “God bless you with the new administration. Anything we can do to help, I’m here to help too.”

In other categories, Miller Lumber Company was the Industry of the Year winner. The third generation family-owned company, now owned by Craig and Vicki Miller, has been in business for more than 30 years. It employs 18 people and plans to increase production.

“I think if my dad and grandfather were here, they would tell you that we did not build this business,” Craig Miller said. “It is customers and people like Imerys, Ameribolt, Heritage Plastics, Agrium, Velcon Filters that built this company. Every time I look at this award, it will remind me that the community built Miller Lumber.”

Magnolia’s Gifts received the Established Business of the Year award. The Broadway Avenue business recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and extensively remodeled its exterior.

“I’m so thankful to have been in business for 20 years, and after 20 years I think I need a facelift,” Owner Linda Hardy joked. “I really appreciate the theme tonight, because that’s the feeling I think is just permeating the air in Sylacauga these days. We’re looking forward to positive things happening, and we’re banning together to make a successful place even more successful.”

The Rod Emlich New Business Award went to Pickle Patch Market, co-owned by Tony and Cindy Picklesimer and Ted and Gail Smith. The business opened last year at the former car dealership on U.S. 280. Cindy Picklesimer thanked her business partners and the community for supporting their idea.

“We have 80 wonderful vendors,” she said. “Without them, Pickle Patch wouldn’t open its doors in the morning. And of course Tony, who has been 100 percent of me in this business. We also thank the Chamber and the city of Sylacauga. It’s home, and it always will be home.”

Lastly, Imerys Pigments was awarded Chamber Champion and will serve as grand marshal at the Christmas parade on Dec. 4.

Look for more coverage from the banquet in Saturday’s paper.

Contact Emily Adams at

© 2012