Chamber holds Jasper on the Move awards banquet
Jasper County Sun Times
More than 300 guests graced the grounds of Chelsea Plantation on May 13 to celebrate the 30th annual Jasper on the Move and 61st annual Installation and Awards Banquet.
Chelsea Plantation, located in Ridgeland, is owned by Bryan and Anne McClure and family, who hosted the event.
"The McClure family has been a major community partner, especially Bryan," Jasper County Chamber of Commerce president Marty Sauls said. "He is heavily invested in Jasper County in many different developments and projects."
The Sergeant Jasper Award, named for the Revolutionary War hero and namesake of Jasper County, was presented to Ridgeland native Tommy Rhodes. The award is presented to an individual or organization for significant contributions to the betterment of life in Jasper County. Several past winners joined Rhodes as he accepted the award.
Sauls said Rhodes possesses “the astute leadership qualities of high morals, integrity, motivation, charisma, trustworthiness and vision.”
"During his 31 years as a Ridgeland town councilman and two as mayor, he has been instrumental in the significant growth, economic development, as well as the beautification of Ridgeland and its surrounding areas," he said.
Rhodes graduated from Ridgeland High School in 1964 and went on to college at Wingate and the University of South Carolina. He joined the Army and served four years, which included two tours in Vietnam.
"Always keeping his community in mind, he has served on many boards in a variety of capacities such as a member of the Jaycees, former chairman of the Jasper County Chamber Development Board, a volunteer coach for the Ridgeland Little League Association and sponsor, Thomas Heyward Academy Board of Directors, and is currently the driving force for the annual American Red Cross Blood Drive for our community," Sauls said.
Sauls said Rhodes is an active member of Ridgeland Baptist Church, where he has served as a deacon and Sunday school teacher. He said Rhodes is also a major supporter and volunteer in the Keep Jasper County Beautiful program. In 1983, Rhodes took over his father's State Farm insurance agency and has served 38 years, deciding to retire this month.
"Mr. Tommy is one of our longest-serving chamber members at 47 years," Sauls said.
Rhodes is married to Ann Rhodes and they have two daughters and four grandchildren.
"I want to congratulate all of the recipients of the awards that have been given tonight," he said. "I am honored to be among these men here that are the who's who of Jasper County."
Several other awards were presented throughout the evening.
The EMS Person of the Year Award was presented to Bernard Washington. He has served with Jasper County Fire-Rescue since 2014, beginning his service as a volunteer.
"He is a role model for his coworkers, he serves on the Jasper County Fire and Rescue honor guard detail, and is working through the promotion process for liieutenant," chamber board member Mingledorff said.
The Business Education Partner of the Year Award was presented to Maurice Lawyer.
"His nonprofit, the Legacy Foundation of South Carolina, works by meaningful experiences outside of the traditional classroom, and in turn, inspires the students to achieve more," Mingledorff said.
The Growth and Development Award was presented to John G. Smith, president of The Forino Company.
"As president of The Forino Company, he has led the development of over 2,000 new housing units in Jasper County, both single-family and multi-family," Mingledorff said.
The Firefighter of the Year Award was presented to Hardeeville Assistant Fire Chief Joey Rowell, who serves as public information officer, public education officer, community risk reduction officer and fire marshal.
"Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been the liaison for the city to the county's emergency operations center," board member Sheree' Darien said. "… Rowell is always working with citizens, visitors, and media to promote fire and life safety in the city and the county."
The Business of the Year Award was presented to Point South KOA Campground. Its owner/operator is Jennifer Olendorf-Mason. The chamber accepted the award on behalf of the Olendorf family.
"This family, and their daughter Jennifer, has invested a good portion of their lifetime in Jasper County,” Darien said. “They have constantly improved and invested time, money and energy in their businesses, making it a destination stop for many travelers."
There were two recipients for the new 2020 Make A Difference Award. The first was Antwone Patterson, who operates the nonprofit Kuntry Kids.
"This individual embodies community spirit," Darien said. "He collaborates annually with the school district to host Jag Nation, community unification, where he provides food, services and resources to students and families in Jasper County."
The second recipient was Rick Patel, who owns a Marathon gas station and a Hunt Brothers Pizza franchise.
"Patel, in April of 2020, delivered free pizzas and water to victims of a devastating tornado in Hampton County," she said. “From June to August 2020, Patel held three pizza and water giveaway events to the community at the corner of Main Street and Whyte Hardee Boulevard in Hardeeville to help create community spirit during COVID-19."
The New Business Award was presented to Josie's Creative Designs, Too and its owner Josephine Anderson.
"This business owner started her career in the paralegal field," board member Lyn Boyles said. "Then she went into telecommunications, and while in that field, she began designing floral arrangements as a hobby. ... She is the business owner of a floral design shop, event planning and event rental and tuxedo business that employs five people in Jasper County and also in Colleton County."
The Zenie Ingram Community Service Award was given to Martin Sauls. He is owner and operator of Sauls Funeral Home in Ridgeland and Bluffton. He also served as Jasper County coroner for 45 years.
"I have known Martin Sauls all my life and he is an icon of Jasper County," Boyles said. "One of the gentlemen that nominated him for the award said no matter where you go in the state, they know Mr. Martin Sauls. He has done so much for our county as far as donating, reaching out to the public, doing things for children and giving of his time and his own money and reaching out to everyone."
The Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award was presented to Sgt. Gerry “Downtown” Brown of the Hardeeville Police Department. Brown retired after 20 years as a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps in 1998 and began his career in law enforcement.
Boyles said Brown retired this year and has since returned with the department's community policing program. She said Brown has a total of 41 years of military and law enforcement service.
The Healthcare Professional of the Year Award was presented to a group of professionals rather than an individual this year, Boyles said. It went to the entire staff of Coastal Carolina Hospital in Hardeeville.
"In a year unlike any other in our lifetime, recognizing a single health care professional of the year is exceptionally difficult and truly fails to appreciate the tremendous teamwork that has gone on within the local health care community over the last 14 months," Boyles said.
"The COVID-19 pandemic affected us all in one way or another. For our community, including those in health care, the personal impact was tremendous. In the midst of all the uncertainty, the staff and physicians of Coastal Carolina Hospital continued to focus on the patients that needed their care while working tirelessly to adapt and respond to the growing pandemic.”