Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, April 4, 2023

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MURFREESBORO – The annual Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce banquet brings together the community for an evening of good food and fellowship, all in the name of local business.

Chamber Director Daryl Williams welcomed guests to this year’s event held on Thursday, March 30, and noted that 2023 marks the Chamber’s 70th year in operation. The organization works to provide support to area businesses to ensure that the local community is able to thrive.

Several awards were presented at the banquet. Here, Elicia Revelle accepts the Chamber Award from Daryl Williams. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

“This Chamber is more than one person. It’s more than one Board of Directors,” said Williams. “It’s all of our supporters joining together. We appreciate the support of everyone here tonight and those who couldn’t join us.”

Local leaders were invited to speak during the event to provide remarks about the organizations they represent.

“The town of Murfreesboro is moving forward,” declared Mayor Hal Thomas as the first speaker of the evening.

Thomas focused mainly on infrastructure projects, such as the recently completed rehabilitation of two lift stations in town. He noted that repairs are very costly, but they’re continuing to look for grants to help pay for needed work in the future.

The mayor also referenced recent traffic pattern changes to High Street to reduce speeding, and various Main Street revitalization projects that were funded through a state grant received last year.

Berna Stephens, who serves on the Town Council and as Mayor Pro Tem, spoke next to provide an overview of what the council does.

“I believe we have been very productive,” she explained. “We haven’t accomplished all that I’d like, but due to the pandemic and the economy, I believe we have done a fantastic job.”

Yahmale Vaughan (left) was named as the 2023 recipient of the Earl 98.3 Community Service Award, as presented by Jay Jenkins. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

For those unfamiliar, Stephens explained that each member of the council is assigned to a specific area of focus to work closely with alongside town employees. Jay Revelle is the Administrative Commissioner who works to ensure town finances are spent wisely. James Futrell is the Police Commissioner who keeps up to date with everything the police department does. Similarly, David Brown serves as the Fire Commissioner to provide support for the local fire department. Craig Dennis is the Public Works Commissioner, and has commended the understaffed department for their hard work. And lastly, Stephens serves as Recreation Commissioner to support various youth programs in town.

She thanked everyone, including the council and town employees, for working together.

Chowan University Provost Dr. Danny Moore centered his remarks on the university’s motto “lux et veritas” which means “light and truth.” He explained that the university has striven to light the way since it first opened its doors in 1848.

“Today, we continue to rely on light,” Moore said. “We continue to promise our students a way to see through the darkness, to tell them we have faith in their future. We provide this light by being fully invested in our students, by understanding that learning is predicated on the power to care, and by remembering that our students need us to light the way.”

Dr. Moore concluded his remarks with a reminder that the community coming together is like the glow of several lights coming together to guide the way forward.

Andre Lassiter, Chair of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, stepped to the podium to speak on what that elected body is doing to help boost local business.

“The Hertford County Board of Commissioners decided that we would not leave our fate in the hands of someone that does not know our area,” Lassiter said, referring to government officials in Raleigh. “We made a decision to do something different.”

He announced that the county has received $3.5 million in federal funding to build a new economic development hub that will, among other things, be used as a regional training center to encourage more manufacturing jobs to move to the local area.

“Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much,” Lassiter concluded.

Liz Brown receives the 2023 Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald’s Front Page Award, presented by Cal Bryant. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

The final speaker was Hertford County Economic Development Director Kelly Bowers, who spoke about the many highlights Murfreesboro has to offer. Those included history, eating establishments, academics, retail services, and tourism.

Like other speakers, she also emphasized the importance of teamwork to help strengthen the community, not only in Murfreesboro but throughout Hertford County as well.

The Chamber’s annual awards presentation was also held during the event.

Yahmale Vaughan, who volunteers as the town’s Recreation Director, received the Earl 98.3 Community Service Award. The News-Herald Front Page Award was given to Liz Brown for her contributions to the town’s Christmas decorations each year. Elicia Revelle of Revelle Realty was recognized with the Chamber of Commerce Award.

Banquet attendees enjoyed the event which kicked off with food donated by local restaurants and wrapped up with door prizes from local businesses.