The Destin Area Chamber of Commerce rolled out the red carpet Friday night for its annual Awards and Installation Banquet at the Emerald Coast Convention Center.
"It's always a fun event," President and CEO Shane Moody told The Log. "It's an honor to recognize so many who give so much to this community each year."
As with tradition, the chamber presented its most prestigious awards to "outstanding members" of the chamber of commerce and the Destin community. The awards include the James D. Neilson, Sr. Chairman's Award for Volunteer Service; The Ann Gibson Community Service Award; the Paul Woolman Ambassador of the Year; and the Business Person of the Year Award.
The James D. Neilson, Sr. Chairman's Award for Volunteer Service was presented to Kathy Whidden from Emerald Coast Chiropractic.
"Kathy Whidden is one of those people that always puts service out in front," Moody told The Log. "You see it in her actions, but more importantly you see it in the actions of those around her."
"When she's assisting with something, those around her seem to step up their game as well, and she encourages her employees to do the same," he added. "She walks the walk as well as anyone."
The Ambassador of the Year award was presented Jennifer Harris Barnett of Acentria Inc. Bill Lindsley, the outgoing chamber of commerce board of directors chairman, told the crowd that Barnett was more than deserving of this honor.
"She is a true example of what an ambassador should be," he said.
Moody said Barnett has given a tremendous amount of her time to the chamber of commerce.
"She's a great representative for her employer and they should be proud of her actions," he said.
Kim Wintner, of Alliance Association Management Co. Inc, was honored with the Ann Gibson Community Service Award.
Watching Wintner over the years, Moody said it was only a matter of time before he was honored.
"He gives so much to the community, especially as it relates to the military," he said. "He supports the chamber and the community and does so, not for the recognition, but because he believes in giving back."
The Business Person of the Year award was presented to a familiar face in the Destin community, Kelly Windes, a long-time boat captain, former city councilman and current county commissioner.
"What can you say about Captain Windes that hasn't been said," Moody told The Log. "He has been instrumental in the success of the harbor, the fishing industry and to Destin's success over the years."
"He supports all of the fishermen and is an advocate for the industry," Moody added. "Destin would not be the same without him."
After the awards portion of the night, the 2013 board members were sworn in. The executive committee includes: Chairman Elect, Amy Perry of Pleat, Perry & Ritchie; Immediate Past Chairman, Bill Lindsley of Simple HR; Treasurer, Shaun Eubanks; Vice Chairman of Communications and Marketing, Julie Cotton of Northwest Florida State College; Vice Chairman of Community and Economic Development, Karen McCarthy of Army Aviation Center Federal Communication Federal Credit Union; Vice Chairman of Membership and Development, Ken Wampler of Newman Dailey Resort Properties; Vice Chairman of the Harbor Advisory Committee, Jami Jones of Destin Charter Service.
The directors are Hayward Dykes of Conerly, Bowman and Dykes; Steve Jay of Warren Averett O'Sullivan Creel; Rebecca Jones of Fort Walton Beach Medical Center; Andi Mahoney of White Wilson Medical Center; Pam Martin of Gulf Power; Dave Morrow of Allstate Ryland Morrow Agency; Jonathan Ochs of Trustmark Bank; Cyndy Thomas of ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals; Carey Trotter of Trotter's General Contractors.
Mike Freeman of Acentria will serve as the Most Immediate Past Chairman, ex officio; Charles Morgan of Harbor Docks is the Chairman's Appointee; and Jim Breitenfeld of Breitenfeld Development Services and Kim Wintner of Alliance Association Management will serve as special appointees.
Mary Anne Windes officially took over as chairman, as outgoing Board of Directors Chairman Bill Lindsley passed the gavel to the longtime Destinite and owner of Real Estate Professionals of Destin.
"That's a hard act to follow," she said with a chuckle. "I'm truly humbled to be standing here before you."