The Pell City Chamber of Commerce held their 2019 Chamber Awards luncheon on Nov. 13 at Eden Westside Baptist Church. More than 180 Chamber members and city representatives were in attendance at the sold out event.
Nominations were received for local businesses and citizen of the year from their members. Newly added this year were awards for Fireman of the Year and Policeman of the Year, which were chosen by the chiefs of each department.
Businesses were nominated in several categories including Small Business, Medium Business, Large Business, Industry, Professional, Non-profit, and Citizen of the Year.
Each nominee was voted on by Chamber members and the organization or person with the most votes received the award.
The winner for Small Business was Jamison Taylor’s School of Music (JTSOM). Owner Jamison Taylor said he didn’t think they would win as he received the award from presenter Pell City Councilman Jason Mitcham. JTSOM began in 2012 with private music lessons and has grown to five instructors teaching a variety of instruments and voice lessons to over 100 students each week.
The Medium Business of the Year Award was presented to Magnolia’s Gift Shop. The family-owned business began in Sylacauga in 1992 and they now have two locations in Pell City.
Pell City City Manager Brian Muenger presented the award for Large Business of the Year to Pell City Premiere LUX Cinertainment. Premiere opened in January 2019 with bowling, arcade, restaurant and movie theater. Since opening their doors, they have become involved in the community, donating to local charities, and working with Pell City High School with their vocational job program.
General Manager Mark Vaughn said, “We are happy to have a staff of local citizens that provide an affordable entertainment option for the people of Pell City and St. Clair County. We look forward to the many years ahead of providing dining and entertainment for the fine people of Pell City!”
The award for Professional Business was presented by Pell City School Superintendent Dr. James Martin to Northside Medical Associates. Northside Medical was established in 2001 by Dr. Rock Helms. Over the past 18 years, the facility has grown to approximately 80,000 square feet with the help of local partners like Goodgame Company and Metro Bank. Northside employs fifteen primary care providers that serve Pell City and surrounding communities with extended healthcare services, including a variety of specialists, Accel Urgent Care Clinic, and pharmacy.
The Industry Award went to Benjamin Moore & Co, who has been in Pell City for almost 34 years. The Pell City location manufactures residential, commercial and industrial coatings and is also a distribution center. They have expanded seven times over the years, and their newest expansion is expected to create an estimated $554,000 in education taxes over the next 10 years.
“Thank you,” said Paul Tomaszeski. “We are just a small part of the community and will continue to be involved in the community.”
The award for Nonprofit of the Year went to Ann’s New Life, a limited medical pregnancy center that helps women and families facing an unplanned pregnancy. Since the beginning of their nonprofit, they have helped over 1300 clients and their families.
Pell City Chamber Board President Chris Christian said they added two new categories this year for Fireman of the Year and Policeman of the Year, which were chosen by the police and fire chief.
Police Chief Paul Irwin presented the Policeman of the Year to School Resource Officer (SRO) Thomas Gray. Gray has been a police officer for five years and a SRO for three and a half years.
“I’m very fortunate to work in a great city,” Gray said. “It makes my job easier working in a great school system.”
“Gray is a role model for these kids and someone they can count on,” Chief Irwin said. “He can help stop things before they happen and it makes the community safer.”
Pell City Fire Chief Tim Kurzejeski presented the Fireman of the Year Award to John Edge, who has been in the fire department since 1985 and is the “longest serving employee in the city.” Kurzejeski stated that Edge was his first “assigned partner” when he joined the fire department and served as a mentor and father-figure.
“Thank you for this award,” said Edge. “I have enjoyed working for the city. They are the best I’ve known.”
The three finalists for Citizen of the Year, which are nominated for their contribution to the Pell City community, were commercial developer Bill Ellison, Pell City Police Chief Paul Irwin, and founder of We Win Recovery Ivi McDaniel.
Police Chief Paul Irwin received the award, presented by last year’s winner Jean Speer.
“One is too small of a number to achieve greatness,” Irwin said. “This is for all the officers that I get to work with. It is a blessing for me to be here. I want to thank the Pell City Police Department and the City of Pell City. They do so much for me—they make us great. It’s a blessing to be able to help someone when they are in need.”
Irwin was appointed as Pell City Police Chief in April 2017. He helped develop the S.W.A.T. team in 2018, which continues to grow and advance employee development and training for not only S.W.A.T. officers but also the entire department. In 2017, the Pell City Police Department became involved in the Alabama Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics and has raised thousands of dollars for Special Olympics and raised awareness of the program for people with intellectual disabilities.
Chief Irwin’s goals are that “every officer goes home to their family each day and to advance their department to continue to be one of the best police departments in the United States and continue to grow the interests of the Pell City Animal Control Center in the area so every animal has a home.”