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Annual Meeting Honors Award Recipients, Celebrates Successful Chamber Year

On March 29, the Chamber welcomed more than 250 members of the business community to our 2023 Annual Meeting presented by Indorama Ventures at the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton. The event celebrates the past year of successes in our community while looking ahead with the transition of our new Executive Committee and Board of Directors on April 1. You can view our Annual Report here.

During the event, Kelly Pate with the Greater Morgan County Builders Association was recognized as the Chamber's 2023 Rosie Hennessy Commodore of the Year honoree. This award presented by Gobble-Fite Lumber Company, Inc. is voted on by the Commodores recognizing an outstanding member of the Chamber’s ambassador corps. Kelly is currently Admiral of the Commodores.

A Decatur native, Kelly graduated from Decatur High School and then the University of South Alabama. She is married to Frank Pate and has four children and two grandchildren.  Kelly’s father, Bob Gleason was the only news anchor for WMSL TV in Decatur and she followed in his footsteps working in the television news industry for 25 years. Kelly started her own marketing agency, KC Media, in 2009. Now Kelly is the Executive Officer for the Greater Morgan County Builders Association.

Kelly will be the first to tell you that she has a servant’s heart because of her parents. When they had seven children at home, they took in three children who escaped Cuba. Every Thanksgiving, they hosted their family meal at the Knights of Columbus and invited anyone who didn’t have family and the homeless to come eat with the Gleason’s. Kelly volunteers her time as a Commodore, she is on a Mardi Gras crew and has served on the school boards at Saint Ann Catholic School and St. John Paul II Catholic High School.

Our next award was the Miss Athelyne C. Banks Citizen of the Year presented by Redstone Federal Credit Union. Noel King with King Insurance Agency was this year's honoree for his commitment and service to the community. The honor is given to a community leader who reflects the dedication, service and faithfulness to Decatur modeled in the life of Miss Banks, who devoted 42 years of her life to education.

Noel was born and raised in Decatur.  His early education was through the Decatur City School System, having attended Walter Jackson Elementary and Oak Park Middle School.  He graduated from Decatur High School where he served as president of his graduating class. Noel developed a love of the arts early in life participating in school plays and the Decatur High School choral program.  In addition, he was often seen in community theatre productions in Decatur with the Bank Street Players, Dream Weavers, the Decatur Civic Chorus and with “The Company,” a cabaret performing group that raised funds for local arts organizations. Noel’s love of the arts has grown throughout his life.  He is often seen in the audience of performing arts concerts and plays in Decatur.

Noel is a co-owner of King Insurance Agency in Decatur.  He joined the family-owned business in 2005 after working with First American Corporation in Birmingham for more than eight years.  Prior to that time, Noel practiced law with the firm of Harris, Caddell & Shanks, P.C. in Decatur.  He obtained his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Alabama.

Noel currently serves on the Alabama Center for the Arts Foundation. He's the past President and current member of the Kiwanis Club of Decatur, past Chairman and board member of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, the Carnegie Visual Arts Center and the River Clay Fine Arts Festival Foundation. Throughout his career, he has also served on the Board of Directors for the Downtown Decatur Merchants and Business Association and the Decatur Morgan Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Council. Noel was the recipient of the Decatur Morgan County Tourism 2016 Julian R Walker Mr. Tourism Award, the Decatur Morgan County Tourism 2022 Good Neighbor Award (Friend of Tourism) and the Alabama Art Education Association 2015 Distinguished Service Outside the Profession Award.

“I have served on various boards and committees with Noel for 10 plus years.  Year after year, I have watched his dedication to many projects and boards where the mission of the organization was always to make Decatur a better place to live,” said Trudy Grisham, a past recipient of the award and who nominated Noel.

Banks – for whom the award is named – devoted 42 years of her life to education, serving 29 of them with Decatur City Schools. She was a public-school teacher, the first woman principal at Carver Elementary School and a public school administrator. Chamber members submitted nominations for the award, and applications were judged by a committee of past recipients.

Outgoing Chairman Ray Hardin, General Manager of Decatur Utilities, shared his thoughts on the success of the last 12 months of the Chamber, which included helping connect our members with a skilled workforce. Following the "passing of the gavel," incoming Chairwoman Jamie Reeves with MeritHouse Realty and Capital Management looked ahead to how the Chamber will continue to be a leader in programs that enhance the area's workforce and our community.

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor Indorama Ventures, Miss Athelyne C. Banks Citizen of the Year Award Sponsor Redstone Federal Credit Union, Rosie Hennessy Commodore of the Year Award Sponsor Gobble-Fite Lumber Company, Inc. and Gold Sponsor Calhoun Community College. We are thankful for everyone who attended, our investors and advocates in the community.



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