Organized by the chamber's newly established awards and recognition committee, the first annual Harlan County Chamber of Commerce awards program will honor citizens nominated by the public who continually contribute to the success of the community through professionalism and leadership in their respective fields.
"We want to recognize those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to improve the quality of life in Harlan County," said Karen Phillips, one of the program organizers and co-chair of the chamber's awards and recognition committee.
Nominations will be accepted for the following awards:
n Educator of the Year, which includes nominations for members of both the teaching and administrative staff of any Harlan County public or private school, including college, vocational and adult education;
n Health Care Professional of the Year, which includes nominations for doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, technicians, dentists, therapists, hygienists, health administrators and educators;
n Public Service Provider of the Year, which includes nominations for law enforcement officers, fire and rescue squad volunteers, local, state and federal government employees, and local and state elected officials;
n Harlan Countian of the Year, which will recognize an individual who demonstrates extraordinary commitment to the welfare of fellow citizens and to the progress of their community
In addition to the individual awards, the chamber will also be honoring businesses that have been operating in Harlan County for 25, 50, 75 and 100 years.
"There are a lot of businesses in Harlan County that have a long history but have never been recognized for their years of service. For a business to reach the 50-year, or 100-year mark in any community is very prestigious, and we feel we need to recognize that," Phillips said.
Eligible businesses range from those who have one owner/operator to multinational corporations which have been serving Harlan County through a local branch for over 25 years.
According to Phillips, public participation is the key to making the awards program successful.
"Everybody knows somebody who deserves one of these awards, and if you don't nominate them, then they may never have the chance to be recognized," Phillips said.
In addition to honoring distinguished citizens, the chamber hopes the awards program will generate greater participation in future chamber activities.
"We (created) this as a way to reach out to non-chamber members and get them involved in what we are doing...A strong chamber voice helps recruit businesses and industry, and improves roads and education for our area," Phillips said.
The deadline for submitting nominations is Sep. 5, and winners will be announced during the awards banquet on Nov. 8.
Additional information and nomination forms may be picked up at the Harlan Daily Enterprise, the Harlan Tourist Commission, or online at www.harlancounty.com.