Photos by Bobbie Poynter
By Bobbie Poynter
Distinguished community and business leaders, family and friends had plenty reason to applaud at the Knox County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Chamber Banquet. This year the Chamber announced both a Man and Woman of the Year.
After everyone had a chance to mingle at a reception hosted by the Junior Cotillions, Chamber President Corey Chesnut introduced Susan Liford as the Chamber’s Woman of the Year.
Liford recently retired as the director of the Knox County Health Department. She and her department were instrumental in convincing 14 restaurants in Knox County to go smoke free.
“One of my greatest regrets,” she admitted, “is not being able to get Knox County completely smoke free. All I ever wanted to do was to make a difference in Knox County, to help people live a healthy life.”
Liford recognized her family members who were in attendance and then encouraged the community to continue the good work that the Health Department has already begun.
Chesnut then presented Terry Forcht with his award for Man of the Year. Chestnut spoke of the many accomplishments and awards Forcht has received throughout the years, and of how the Forchts believe in giving back to their community.
Accepting his award, Forcht first thanked his wife Marion for being by his side throughout the years. He then recognized the various factions of the Forcht Group who had come out to support him.
After the awards presentations, Chesnut introduced the guest speaker for the evening, Sandi Curd, Promise Zone Coordinator.
Curd said some people were getting the Promise Zone and SOAR programs mixed up. She explained that the Promise Zone is a federal program geared only towards eight counties in Kentucky, whereas SOAR is a non-profit organization created by Congressman Hal Rogers and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and encompasses all of Kentucky.
Among the numerous dedicated Promise Zones across the United States, Kentucky, she said, has the only rural Promise Zone in the nation. The other zones are located within city limits.
Besides wanting to see an improvement of life in the participating counties, Promise Zone provides priority points for when applying for grants. Promise Zone plans to help bring in $109 M in grant monies into Southeastern Kentucky in the next seven years.
“The nation is watching us,” she said. “Someone has already been contracted to study our census marker and indicators over the next 10 years.”
“What can you do?” she asked. “Assume that it’s going to work!”
Besides family and friends of the award recipients, the following businesses and organizations were represented at the banquet: Forcht Bank, Forcht Group, First Financial, Commercial Bank, KCEOC, Barbourville Tourism, Union College, Knox County UNITE, L & N Federal Credit Union, Barbourville Health & Rehabilitation Center, and Tipton & Tipton attorneys.