The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama honored area leaders and former US Senator Richard Shelby at their 122nd annual celebration in Tuscaloosa Thursday.

The swanky soiree was hosted at the Bryant Conference Center and, in addition to the numerous awards given to local volunteers, the Chamber honored Shelby for his unrivaled ability to bring federal funds back to the state of Alabama.

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Shelby did not seek re-election last year retired from government service after more than 40 years in office.

Tributes to Shelby's tenure were made by Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge Rob Robertson, Northport Mayor John Hinton and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox.

The Chamber also remained its Chairman’s Leadership Award in honor of Senator Shelby.

Of the local volunteers who were recognized, top recognition went to Jordan Morris of Ward Scott Morris Architecture, who was named the Charles H. Land Member of the Year.

As the Chamber's highest honor, the award is given annually to a member of their Board of Directors who also has an established history of volunteerism.

“Jordan Morris represents everything good about the Chamber and leads by example,” Jim Page, the chamber’s president and CEO, said. “He has been actively engaged in virtually every area of the Chamber’s broad scope of work and has his fingerprints on so many of the organization’s many recent successes.”

The just-renamed Honorable Richard C. Shelby Leadership Award was presented to Michael Goebel of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc.

Page called Goebel an active leader in the business community and said he chaired the Chamber’s ALL IN capital campaign last year.

The Robert C. Tanner Corporate Service Award recognizes the leadership, philanthropy and community service from a Chamber member and was was presented to Tuscaloosa's EatMyBeats, Inc. Thursday.

The Ambassador of the Year Award was presented to Romel Gibson of Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa.

Two Diverse Business Council Trailblazer Awards were presented to Thomas Dedrick of Raymond James and Elizabeth Winter of Regions Bank.

The Nonprofit of the Year Award was presented to Arts ‘n Autism.

Two Distinguished Service Award, which recognize local service and leadership, were presented to Matt Fajack of The University of Alabama and Whitni Molden of Hotel Capstone.

The H. Pettus Randall Entrepreneurial Rising Star Award was presented to Gavin Baum-Blake and Erik Johnson of CityDetect.

The H. Pettus Randall Entrepreneur of the Year was presented to Matt Pavlick of GRO Marketing.

The Chamber also officially transitions its board leadership at every annual celebration, and Thursday night entrepreneur Tripp Powell passed the gavel to Michele Coley of the Allstate Coley Agency. Coley will serve as chairperson of the board this year until the ceremony rolls back around in 2024.

The Thread extends sincere congratulations to Senator Shelby and all the community leaders recognized Thursday night as well as gratitude for the volunteerism and philanthropy recognized by the Awards.

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