Jacob Smith • Mt. Juliet News
The Mt. Juliet Chamber Awards honored the 2017 recipients of the awards given out Thursday evening by the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce.

The Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce honored several members at its annual Chamber Choice Awards on Thursday night at the Capitol Theatre in Lebanon.

The night began with a speech from 2017 board chair Samuel Short, in which he thanked the organization for allowing him to serve and introduced 2018’s board chair Lisia Tucker.

“I would like to begin by thanking Samuel for asking me to serve as chairman of the board for 2018 and allowing me to watch and learn from him this past year,” said Tucker. “Timing is everything, because I was asked a few years ago by my friend, David Rhodes, but I just didn’t feel I could put my heart and soul into it. I’m now grateful for another opportunity to serve.”
The theme of the night was “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and a video was shown depicting what life in Mt. Juliet would be like without a chamber of commerce. Participants rang the bells given to the as the video reached its climax with the line, “Every time a bell rings, the chamber gets another member.”

After her speech, Tucker presented the awards to the 2017 winners. The first award was ambassador of the year, which went to Kayla Copeland with Cumberland Insurance Agency.

“If you are not an ambassador, please come talk to me; it is the most amazing thing,” said Copeland. “I have met all of my friends from Mt. Juliet from being an ambassador. I moved here five years ago, and I love this place better than my hometown.”

The next award was the volunteer of the year award, which went to Gaye Lynn Wilson.

“I like to volunteer for everything,” said Wilson. “Thank you for allowing me to volunteer with all the things that you do. I enjoy it, and I truly appreciate all of you.”

The businesswoman of the year award went to Heather Harned, owner of Juice Bar in Mt. Juliet.

“I am very honored,” said Harned. “I thank every one of you for supporting our business and our team. It is an honor to be a part of this chamber.”

The businessman of the year award was given to Kevin Sanders with Wilson Bank & Trust.

“I want to thank each one of you and the influences each of you have had on me,” said Sanders. “Thank you to my team at Wilson Bank and my wife and all the support she gives me.”

Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright received the Wilsonian of the year award for her work with the school system.

“I’ve been here four years. I feel like I’ve lived here forever,” said Wright. “My husband’s sitting back there, and we say this quite often. We thank God every day that we landed in Wilson County.”

The business of the year award was given to Hutsenpiller Insurance. Agent Tina Hutsenspiller accepted the award.

“God is so good,” said Hutsenspiller. “To stand up here, you just don’t know how much this means to me personally.”

The lifetime achievement award went to Karen Lowe for her many years of service to the chamber.

“I love Mt. Juliet. I love the chamber, and of course, I love the realtor association,” said Lowe. “I have enjoyed my time, and I thank you all so very much.”

The final award was named in honor of Paul Bauman, a local businessman known for his service to various charity organizations. The 2017 Paul Bauman award recipient was Debbie Melvin.

“I want to say that nobody can do anything without a whole lot of people around them,” said Melvin. “I’m grateful that I have some of the best there are working with me every day.”

By Jacob Smith