Chamber awards handed out

Published 12:55 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tony Matthews, Storm Krotzer and Benchmark Community Bank received high honors from the Lunenburg community Saturday during the county chamber’s annual meeting and awards banquet, held at the VFW Post in Victoria.

Matthews was named Citizen of the Year, Benchmark was named Business of the Year and Krotzer, a student at Central High School, received the Student of the Quarter Award.

“We’ve been doing this for the last year, honoring a student from one of the schools … for outstanding service based on what the staff of the school and the administration of the school (has said),” explained Chamber Director Robert Ledbetter regarding the Student of the Quarter Award.

Chamber Treasurer Bernice Thompson presented the Citizen of the Year Award, noting that Matthews, Mike Walker and Ollie Wright were nominated.

“This person has lived in Lunenburg County all of his life, other than a few years that he served in the navy,” Thompson said. She noted Matthews served during Operation Desert Storm.

“He’s very active in his community,” Thompson said, noting Matthews’ service as a 14-year member of the Kenbridge Volunteer Fire Department, where he served as captain, a member of the Dundas Hunt Club and the Perseverance Christian Church.

“He’s very involved with the Lunenburg Girls Softball League, where he’s been a

coach, manager and commissioner of the league,” Thompson said, nothing his other coaching capacities.

“In 2014, he and his wife became guardians of this sister’s four children, who passed away from cancer,” Thompson said of Matthews’ late sister, noting her husband also died of cancer. “Lots of school-aged and young adults look up to Tony Matthews as a role model and a mentor.”

“It is truly a surprise,” Matthews said. “It’s been an honor, when you said a lot of people look up to me. It’s only because they’re shorter than me,” he joked. “I’m really humbled by this. All of my life, I’ve only tried to give back. I’ve found that giving back is where you get things from.”

Victoria Drug Co., Matthews Lawn Care and Benchmark were nominated for the Business of the Year Award, explained Victoria Mayor Carol Watson, who nominated Benchmark.

“The bank opened on Sept. 8, 1971 as the Lunenburg County Bank on a doublewide on a rented lot in Kenbridge,” Watson said.

She said the bank, in 1989, changed its name to Benchmark Community Bank, expanding its service territory.

Though about 165 people work for the bank now, Watson said “most of them still work here in Lunenburg County.”

After listing the numerous locations and offices the bank has across Virginia and North Carolina, she pointed out the new Kenbridge branch and the newly remodeled one in Victoria.

The bank, she said, has touched the lives of those living in Lunenburg “in a very positive way,” striving to help clubs and organizations in the county, along with its customers.

“They can always be counted on to take a major part in whatever the chamber has in its plans,” Watson said. “They have certainly made Lunenburg County a much better place to live and work, and we’re very proud to have them in Lunenburg County.”

“On behalf of the Benchmark team, we certainly appreciate the award. It’s been a great journey for our bank,” Benchmark’s Mike Walker said. “Every day has been a fun event for me. That’s because we had only one mission and that was to take care of our customers and to take care of our community. That’s what we’ve been doing throughout our tenure … We will be involved in the community for a long time.”

“This is my home, OK. I live in Kenbridge,” newly elected Chamber Vice President Mike Hankins said after being introduced by Payne. “Lunenburg County is my home, and I want it to be a good place to live. And I think we can do this by bringing more businesses in.”

“I feel like we’re getting ready to go into the best year that this organization has ever had,” Payne said at the conclusion of the event. “When I took over last year we had 38 members. And now we have over 100.”

He compared the chamber to a machine “that is capable of moving mountains. And all of us working together — it’s going to take all of us working together — you, the members, the citizens of the county, the businesses of the county and the officers, board of directors, all of us working together, to figure out which mountains need to be moved. And that task is up to all of us … We’ve got a lot of plans on the table already.”