Friday night saw more than 150 local business leaders, members of Osceola’s leadership, and a multitude of organizations gather for the 2024 annual dinner for Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC) and Osceola Chamber Main Street (OCMS) at Lakeside Casino. The annual dinner celebration is always a grand event, intended to highlight the past year’s achievements and recognize those in the community – businesses and volunteers alike – who give their time and focus on making living and doing business in Osceola and Clarke County special.
This year’s event, with a popular western theme, “Saddle Up for a Galloping Good Time,” saw community members brave the frigid temperatures in their best western wear to share the warmth in the celebration. The night kicked off with a beautiful invocation from Pastor Chuck DeVos from LifePoint Assembly of God, stating,
“…this is by far, the place to be, especially tonight,” said Pastor DeVos. “…the women and men in this room are difference-makers… these are people who give and love and serve and lead in remarkable ways, many of them completely behind the scenes. [We’re] thankful for each and every one of them tonight.”
Check out the gallery of images from Friday Night’s celebration:
While attendees dined on a lovely buffet meal provided by the Lakeside staff, CCDC board president, Kevin Emanuel, discussed the recent milestones made by the Development Corporation and some notable accomplishments partnering with local government and businesses over the past year. The 2022-23 Development Corporation’s strategies centered around meeting the demands for workforce housing, pursuing community activity improvements focused on increasing residents’ quality of life, and reinforcing the deep partnerships the CCDC has with local businesses and organizations.
One significant project that was kicked off in 2023 was the development of CCDC’s ORBIT Education and Training Center, slated to break ground in March of ’24. This facility will connect regional students and workforce with real-world training as well as offer continuing education opportunities to the area’s ever-growing business base.
Citing some of history the CCDC has with not only local development successes and community action, but also how bringing Lakeside Hotel and Casino to Clarke County made an impact across the community, Emanuel said,
“With [the Casino’s] support, the CCDC has been able to partner with local government and local organizations to make our community stronger and a better place to live, work and play.”
The Development Corporation also gave out the CCDC Board of Directors’ Award during the event. This award is granted each year to a business showing uncompromising commitment to serving the community. This year, the award was given to two deserving recipients – American State Bank and First National Bank of Osceola. Through their leadership and commitment to the community workforce housing projects as well as other projects across the county were realized, benefiting local employment, and strengthening the community’s growing workforce.
As an added celebration, each winning business was awarded $1,500 to dedicate to a non-profit organization of their choice. The Clarke Community Schools Food Pantry was chosen by both banks and received the full $3,000 award.
In 2022-23 the Osceola Chamber Main Street teams brought more than a dozen community activities to fruition as well as provided support for business growth, downtown improvements and more.
Osceola Chamber Main Street, Executive Director, Ashleigh Eckels gave OCMS President Dave Opie an award of recognition his commitment and dedication to the chamber while supporting the activities and mission of the board and their members. Also awarded as “Business of the year” was Solutions. Business of the year recipients are considered standouts within the community, going above and beyond to make a positive impact in the community.
“For more than 25 years, with their friendly staff, fast response, and attention to customer service, Solutions has continually made a positive impact on our community,” said Eckels.
One special honoree who, for decades, has been at the heart of numerous community events and business activities was recognized with the Chamber’s 75th Annual Community Service Award. Osceola’s Duayne Fletcher, business owner, community volunteer, and active chamber participant has spent the majority of his adult life in Osceola finding for opportunities to give back.
Stoney Oak Properties’ Owner, Paula McClaflin, who presented the Community Service award said, “What is one’s perception of an ‘Extraordinary person’? … No lights, no camera, and all action, and that defines Duayne Fletcher’s commitment to Osceola and the community he’s loved for so long.”
Every year, the Clarke County Development Corporation and Osceola Chamber Main Street hold this event to honor the achievements and the people that make the community a better place to live and do business.