Neff joins select group in chamber Hall of Fame

Published 2:24 pm Friday, February 27, 2009

Ethan Waldman, president of the Foothills Chamber of Commerce, presents the Business Person of the Year award to Melissa LeRoy.Janet Sciacca, executive director of the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce, explained that the organization doesn&squo;t select someone for the Hall of Fame every year, only when someone clearly deserves the honor.

&dquo;This year there was one name that jumped out among all others in the chamber world,&dquo; she said.

Neff is retiring from the chamber board this year after serving for nearly 20 years, including six years as treasurer. He has taken on a wide range of duties for the chamber over the years, serving on the board, assisting with golf tournaments and helping with the chamber&squo;s signature event, the Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Sciacca said Neff &dquo;could always be counted on&dquo; to help where needed.

&dquo;This is a person who didn&squo;t know how to retire,&dquo; she said. &dquo;He&squo;s still quite active and has a lot of talents to use.&dquo;

Neff told the approximately 60 people gathered at the awards dinner that they are leaders in their community, and he thanked them &dquo;for all you&squo;re doing to make this a great place to live.&dquo;

Neff was one of several people honored with awards at the dinner, held in the Stone Hedge Inn dining room.

The other award winners are presented below.

Outstanding Citizen of the Community

Sciacca said the award for Outstanding Citizen of the Community is another award that is not handed out every year, and this year&squo;s winner was another &dquo;no-brainer.&dquo;

Unfortunately, she noted that the award came too late to deliver to him in person.

Sciacca explained that in recent years chamber members thought they would have time to honor George Scofield, and figured it would be good to wait until he completed his work on the House of Flags museum.

But Scofield passed away last year.

Sciacca explained that Scofield had been heavily involved in numerous ways in the community since moving here from central New York to retire. The former photographer who took pictures of students, enjoyed photos and music, and helped bring the Suzuki Violin School year. Remarkably, Sciacca, who is formerly from Syracuse, said Scofield had taken her school pictures when she was a child, and those of her sisters.

She added that Scofield was very active with the American Legion here, and started the House of Flags museum, with the help of the VFW, after noticing that nobody was saluting the flag at a local parade.

He set out to raise awareness of flag etiquette, began collecting flags and soon found that he was operating the only museum in the country with all of the U.S. historical flags.

After learning that Scofield would receive the Outstanding Citizen of the Community award posthumously, his wife and children sent comments to Sciacca. She says the children expressed surprise at how involved their father was in the community, noting that he never bragged about his achievements.

Unfortunately, Scofield did not live to see the House of Flags occupy a new home on Gibson Street in Columbus. That project was turned over to Robert Williamson and the rest of the museum&squo;s board.

But Sciacca said many in the community will remember Scofield when the project is complete.

&dquo;Someday that will happen and we will definitely be thinking about George every time we go into the museum,&dquo; she said.

Outstanding Business Person of the Year

Melissa LeRoy said those who know her probably never have seen her at a loss for words. But she was Tuesday night after receiving the Outstanding Business Person of the Year award.

&dquo;I&squo;m speechless. This means a lot to me. Thank you very much,&dquo; she said.

Sciacca described LeRoy, the executive director of FENCE, as a very &dquo;hands-on person&dquo; who doesn&squo;t know what a 40-hour week is because she enjoys what she&squo;s doing so much that she usually works much more.

Sciacca said LeRoy has become a leader for nonprofit organizations at the state level, and has multiple other skills that she uses each day for her work.

She said LeRoy can entertain children, mentor youth, use her sense of humor, keep her work organized and even drive a tractor.

Sciacca noted that the award LeRoy received is based on nominations and LeRoy had many endorsements from her peers, fellow chamber members.

Skip Seaman Volunteer of the Year Award

Named in honor of former longtime chamber volunteer Skip Seaman, the volunteer of the year award goes to someone who &dquo;goes the extra mile.&dquo;

Sciacca said the selection this year of Allison Gillespie for the award &dquo;was pretty easy.&dquo;

Gillespie, who joined the chamber board last year, showed&bsp; she is willing to jump in when she sees a need and get work done even before others know something needs to be done, said Sciacca.

&dquo;She didn&squo;t seek recognition. She just got it done,&dquo; said Sciacca.

Gillespie has served on multiple chamber committees, including those that worked on the chamber&squo;s web site, the Buy Local campaign, the annual awards dinner, and the barbecue festival.

Pig awards

The chamber also issued a couple of &dquo;Pig Awards&dquo; for those people who made big contributions to the Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival, the largest event in Polk County.

Dale Musselwhite, the current chairman of the barbecue festival, recognized Eric McEntyre, a former festival chairman. He said McEntyre had served in other capacities for the festival before becoming chairman a few years ago, replacing Andy Millard, who had served as chair for eight years.

Musselwhite said the chamber hoped that McEntyre could also serve a long term, but McEntyre had to step down because of the demands of his job.

&dquo;He&squo;s not here tonight, but I would like to shake his hand for a job well done,&dquo; said Musselwhite.

Lesley Chandler won the other Pig Award Tuesday night for her outstanding volunteer work for the festival. Musselwhite said she has been involved in the festival for five years and holds a &dquo;very important position&dquo; working with competition cookers and judges.

Bill Crowell recognized

The chamber also took time Tuesday to recognize the significant contributions of Bill Crowell, who is retiring from the chamber board. Ethan Waldman said Crowell served two six-year terms on the board and worked 16 years and counting as operations chairman for the barbecue festival. Crowell has also been chairman and co-chairman of Shuckin&squo; and Shaggin&squo;, an event he founded in 1993. He&squo;s also served on various other committees over more than two decades of volunteer work for the chamber.Ethan Waldman, president of the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce, presents the Skip Seaman Volunteer of the Year Award to Allison Gillespie. (photo by Chris Dailey)&bsp;