By Gary Perkins
What a wonderful evening we had at our Annual Fort Gibson Chamber of Commerce Banquet held this past Thursday evening at the River Center at Three Forks Harbor.
Despite the cold and snow, we had an almost record turnout with more than 80 in attendance.
As is customary, we started the evening off with an vast array of donated silent auction items, which consisted of free meals, services, many shop and home items, and a couple high-dollar packages from Cherokee Nation Fort Gibson Casino and a $750 travel voucher donated by Doss Briggs at BRB.
After a time at the auction tables, the evening program got started with a welcome by Chamber Director Gary Perkins followed by an opening prayer offered by Justin Young and a beautiful rendition of the national anthem, sung by “our own” Carrigan Bradley.
Following that, the chamber’s Board of Directors for 2014 were introduced. They consist of Justin Young, president; David Perry, vice president; Tonia Cooper, secretary/treasurer; Will Crawford, Lisa Clayton, Cheryl Hill, Steve Woods, Mark Young, and Melinda Williams. Associate directors are Kathy Carson, Denise Bain, Kathy Perkins, Linda Clinkenbeard, Justin Calvert, and Tim Smith.
Once all the introductions were completed it was time to enjoy a great meal prepared by Darren Kilpatrick and his crew at Kilharen’s Lodge, consisting of brisket and grilled chicken, garlic potatoes, green beans, and rolls, with cobbler dessert provided by Charlie’s Chicken.
Following dinner, we were treated to the rocking sounds of the band Ser, whose members include Britton Vanlandingham on lead; Teddy Hammond on rhythm guitar; Tristan Hill on bass; Joel Anderson on keyboard; and Nathan Walkingstick, pounding out the beat on the drums. They had the entire crowd stomping their feet and nodding their heads to the beat of great rock and roll standards like “Every Rose Has its Thorn,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”
Following the band, we heard an update on the Historic Site by Curator David Fowler. With the help of grants, he and his crew are planning vast restorations and repairs to the old fort. He encouraged everyone to check in regularly on the progress and updates. As a community, we sometimes forget what a valuable resource we have in the Historic Site, along with the fact that we are Oklahoma’s oldest community.
After David’s remarks, we were privileged to present the “Teacher of the Year” awards. Superintendent Derald Glover helped in this honor, as presentations were made to Tina Martin for Early Learning Center; Carol Scott for Intermediate/Elementary, Michelle Mackey for High School, and Dena Longpine for Middle School. Longpine was also named “District Teacher of the Year.” Each received a special plaque and a gift card.
Closing remarks were made by Justin Young, who reiterated that Fort Gibson is Oklahoma’s “best kept secret.” We all are doing our best to get the word out.
Along with all those individuals and businesses that donated to our silent auction, I want to thank Kathy Perkins, Cheryl Hill, Lisa Clayton, Tonia Cooper, Denise Bain, and Mark Seabolt for their help in contacting all those businesses and individuals involved in the auction. It takes many hours to round everything up and cover all the bases. Also thanks to Kathy, Denise, Tonia, and Cheryl for the decorations and preparing all the tables, along with the reception duties. Also a special thanks to the crew at Three Forks Harbor. They do a great job of preparing the hall and assisting in the cleanup. In all, it was a great evening, enjoyed by all in attendance. Each year, we learn more on how to make it better for the next year, and plans are already in the works to do just that.
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Don’t forget our Weekly Chamber Luncheon at 11:30 each Thursday, and for the month of February, we are at Simple Simon’s Pizza in Fort Gibson. Also, don’t forget the 5K Cupid Shuffle and Fun Run, scheduled for Feb. 15 at the United Methodist Church in Fort Gibson, with the race starting at 2 p.m. Information: Erika Skaggs, (918) 577-5147.