The Paris Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated 2019 by awarding seven winners at its annual awards banquet held Saturday, Feb. 8, at The Barn at Meadowbrook. The banquet was a sold-out event before the ceremony that attracted over 200 community members for the night's festivities.

In addition to the awards, those in attendance heard guest speaker Matthew Shepherd, who is the Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives. Shepherd spoke on utilizing the local chamber of commerce to increase not only economic growth and development of the town but also for individual business owners. Shepherd, who is serving his fifth term in the House, lives and practices law in El Dorado at the law firm of Shepherd & Shepherd, P.A.

After Shepherd's speech, the award winners were announced ending the night's events.

2019 Paris Area Chamber of Commerce award winners included Youth of the Year Paiton Forbis presented by Paris High School Principal Mike Nichols; Educator of the Year Eileen Freeman presented by Fr. Reginald Udouj, Osb; Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Investigator Albert Brown presented by Sheriff Jason Massey; Business of the Year Logan County Glass and Mirror presented by Linda Mitchell; Volunteer of the year Toys for Tots presented by Maggie Harless; Chamber Member of the Year Jan Faulkner presented by Tonya Baumgartner and Laura Bauer; Vic Bockstadter Humanitarian of the Year Anna Claire Richey presented by Paris High School teacher Molly Bennett.

PACC Executive Director Tonya Baumgartner said that the chamber is celebrating 75 years of success in 2020 and that the banquet theme,' Standing the Test of Time,' was fitting for the gala event.

"I am thrilled with the 2020 banquet and how well our community embarrasses our annual award winners. It is so well attended we sell out each year. Celebrating our community and its leaders is such a special occasion to get everyone together."

Baumgartner said that this year's event went perfectly, including the beautiful and the fantastic food that was served.

"Matthew Shepherd, Speaker of the House of Representatives, focused on leadership and community with an emphasis on what a chamber does tying it all into our 75th annual celebration. All the award winners are so deserving and accepted the honors with grace."

Baumgarner said that the award presenters did an outstanding job sharing why these leaders were chosen with a few bringing tears to the eyes of those in attendance.

The PACC also welcomed the 2020 Board President Max Philmon, taking the place of Laura Bauer and two new board members, Travis Schluterman, with First National Bank and Dustin Schluterman with Paris Ford, taking the place of Jan Faulkner and Blake Schluterman.

The chamber would like to thank all our sponsors, silent auction donors and attendees for your support and look forward to another successful year in Paris.