Chamber presents awards

Published 11:53 am Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Dawn Conrad was named 2017 Citizen of the Year, and Smith’s Pharmacy, in Kenbridge, was named 2017 Business of the Year at the Lunenburg County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet on Saturday evening after the chamber’s officer and board of directors slates were updated.

During the banquet at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #9954 Headquarters in Victoria, Marianne Cicala presented the Citizen of the Year award to Conrad. She introduced Conrad by paraphrasing a passage from Conrad’s “The Garden Muse” column in The Dispatch, noting the excerpt summed up the epitome of the Citizen of the Year.

“So, it goes like this: ‘There are people amongst us that cultivate gardens without living plants or even material things, true people who devote their time and effort selflessly, giving to others, improving the lives of people other than themselves for the simple joy of doing so,’” Cicala said. “This year’s award goes to Dawn Conrad … Thank you for always being happy to lend a hand. Whenever anybody needs something, she’s not only happy to do it, but does it with a smile. It’s a pleasure to know you. It’s a pleasure for this whole county that you’re a part of it.”

Conrad thanked everyone for the honor, and after the banquet, she said that she was totally surprised to receive the award.

She has lived in Lunenburg County for nearly six years, noting it was family obligations that brought her to the community.

“I’m from New Jersey,” she said. “So I’ve been fortunate that I’ve — within the last four years — been able to dedicate myself to integrating into the community and meeting people and making many friends that I hold dear to my heart. And I love the community, and it feels like home now, which is nice. So, I’m just at a loss for words. I don’t feel that I’ve done anything extraordinary to be recognized like this, but I’m flattered.”

In trying to identify the thing she has done in the community that she is most proud of, she said, “I don’t know that I’m proud. I feel, I don’t know, fortunate that I’m able to give back to the community as much as I am, and I just think it’s an exceptional community, and Lunenburg County, in particular, is, I feel, very special. There’s a lot of untapped talent and special people in Lunenburg that I think need to be recognized.”

Chamber Treasurer Bernice Thompson presented the Business of the Year award, giving a brief history and description of Smith’s Pharmacy. She noted it has two full-time pharmacists, four full-time employees, of which three are pharmacy technicians. The business also has three teenagers employed who work some afternoons after school, Saturdays and during the summer.

“Smith’s Pharmacy offers immunization shots, synchronizations of filling the patients’ medicines at the same time each month, packaging the medicines weekly for an entire month,” Thompson said. “Other services offered is they’ll check with several different companies for the senior citizens to choose which is the best company for their Medicare needs.”

She noted that the staff at the pharmacy is very helpful and friendly.

“If you ever walk into Smith’s Pharmacy, you’ll find the pharmacists are very helpful in making sure that customers understand everything about their medicines and the reasons they were prescribed to them,” she said. “They’ll make sure you’re choosing the correct over-the-counter medicines that would help with the symptoms that you’re experiencing.”

Thompson noted that some people in the community call the pharmacists their doctors, even though they do not have medical degrees.

“Smith’s Pharmacy actively supports local rescue squads, fire departments and the school system,” she said. “There are numerous other organizations that they also support.”

On hand to accept the Business of the Year award was Smith’s Pharmacy co-owner Chris Buchanan. He owns the business with Rick Clary and Ken Sims.

After the banquet, Buchanan expressed thanks to the chamber for the recognition.

“It was an honor, and a lot of the credit goes to the staff,” he said. “Several of the ladies that work for me run the place. I just kind of show up and sign the checks, but they work hard, and they do a good job, and we appreciate the chamber and the community and the support from the customers. We’ve been in business for a long time, and it’s because of the residents that live here and do business with us.”

He estimated that the business first opened in 1941.

“It started out with my uncle and Mr. Smith, and then Mr. Smith had it, and then my dad and his partner bought it from him, and then my partners and I bought it from them, so it’s been kind of passed along,” he said.

Prior to the award presentations, the chamber established its slate of officers for 2018. Mel Payne returns as president, Carol Watson is vice president, Trudy Berry returns as secretary and Thompson returns as treasurer.

Mike Hankins was appointed to the chamber’s board of directors.