By Taylor Welsh. February 14, 2018. BLOWING ROCK, NC — It was not officially “Betty Pitts Day” in Blowing Rock, but the 88-year-old matriarch of the community enjoyed one of the biggest moments at the Green Park Inn on Tuesday – and right near the start of the 31st Annual Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony and Luncheon.
A resident of Blowing Rock since 1945, the wife of former longtime Mayor Hayden Pitts was recognized as the 2018 recipient of the First Citizens Bank Jerry Burns Ambassadorial Award.
“The one time I’m speechless,” Pitts said after receiving the Jerry Burns Award. “Blowing Rock is such a wonderful place. I’ve been here since 1945 and have seen lots of things happen, good things and then not so good things. But I do urge each of you to please help keep Blowing Rock the Blowing Rock it started out to be.
“I know things change,” she added, a smile curling across her face. “Look at me. I’m 88 and I’ve changed. But praise the Lord, God is good. He’s been good to me and this town. We’ve had no real catastrophes happen here. So please, praise the Lord and keep striving to keep this place special. God bless everyone and God bless Blowing Rock.”
She has very little formal education, but she has a PhD in wisdom.
The Jerry Burns Award, which Blowing Rock Mayor-ProTem Albert Yount described as an award equivalent to an Oscar, is given once a year to someone who represents what the town of Blowing Rock and its citizens represent.
“No one, and I mean no one, has been a better ambassador of Blowing Rock than Miss Betty Pitts,” JB Lawrence, Pitts son-in-law and former longtime Mayor himself said. “I am honored to call her family.”
“She has very little formal education, but she has a Ph.D. in wisdom,” quipped Rev. Marshall Edwards. “She has accumulated very little of this world’s goods, but she is one of the richest women in town. She doesn’t have any theological training, but when I was pastor at First Baptist Church, I would wait until her column came out to get my ideas for the following Sunday!”
After a standing ovation for Pitts, and a formal lunch shared among community and business leaders from all over the region, other awards were presented.
Highlighting the business member recognitions was the climactic finish when Bistro Roca was named the 2017 Blowing Rock Business of the Year. Owners Cindy and Cobb Milner were out of town, but manager Danielle Pollock appeared on their behalf. Big smiles and another standing ovation greeted the announcement.
Although the Chamber’s awards are presented annually, the Lifetime Achievement Award is not. This year was special, Chamber of Commerce executive director Charles Hardin told the crowded Green Park audience, because the recipient, Hanna’s, is approaching a monumental milestone. The retailer is a family-owned business that’s been in the same location, continuously running for 100 years in Blowing Rock. The award is dedicated to a business that leaves behind a legacy in Blowing Rock and is a part of what makes Blowing Rock special to its residents and visitors.
The construction phase of this place was a massive undertaking, but an incredible journey.
Next, di Santi Watson Capua Wilson & Garrett, PLLC presented the Commercial Renovation Award to the Speckled Trout, which was accepted by Manager Emily Brinker.
Joy Whitlatch, State Farm agent, presented the Commercial New Construction Award, given to a business that completed new construction and became fully operational in 2017. Whitlatch, who described the winner as a “pretty awesome place,” announced that the winner was the Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge, accepted by the facility administrator Nathan White along with Senior Vice President for System Advancement, Rob Hudspeth.
“The construction phase of this place was a massive undertaking,” White recalled, “but an incredible journey. However, what is probably more rewarding is the service we now provide and in fulfilling the needs of our town’s residents.”
The Customer Service Award, sponsored by United Community Bank, is given annually to the business that provides loyal and personable customer service to everyone that walks through their business doors. The winner of the Customer Service Award was the quickly grown iconic restaurant tandem of Foggy Rock and Sunny Rock, located side by side on Valley Blvd.
“There is not a better honor we would rather have than this award. It (outstanding customer service) is what we strive for on a daily basis and we couldn’t have done it without all of our managers,” Yvonne Meyers, who with husband Burt owns Foggy Rock and Sunny Rock.
The Outstanding Business Service Award, presented by Monkee’s, is a new award this year, given to a business that went above and beyond their call of duty in a remarkable way in 2017. The recipient of the award for 2017 is Billy Chick of Edward Jones.
“Aloha. This community has been such a wonderful community for Jennifer (Chick’s wife) and I. You all were so welcoming and so we love Blowing Rock. We are thankful to live here, serve here and I am thankful for the community,” Chick said after receiving the award.
The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce has over 125 volunteers serving in all types of capacities.
Blue Ridge Mountain Club CEO Jim Pitts presented the Service to the Community Award. The award is given to a member, business or organization that makes positive contributions to the Blowing Rock community through volunteerism, philanthropy and community service. The 2017 winner is Sheri Furman.
For the Chamber staff, the most special award of the afternoon may well be the Volunteer of the Year Award because it offers them a chance to single out at least one of the many organization members or Blowing Rock resident who helps them get things planned, staged and executed.
“I don’t know if you know it or not, but the Blowing Rock Chamber has over 125 volunteers serving in all types of capacities,” noted Hardin. With a nod to his small staff, he added, “We absolutely could not do what we do without the service of these outstanding individuals.”
The 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award is given to the individual who in every way, from volunteering at events to taking leadership roles at Chamber of Commerce functions, strives to help the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce achieve its mission. The 2017 recipient is Melissa Pickett, who was not able to make it to the ceremony to receive the award. She and husband Ray are owner/managers of Blowing Rock Inn.