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Chamber hands out the hardware
Aspinwall, Beef O'Brady's honored; Thayer new chair
Beef O'Brady was honored as the top business of the year at Monday's Richmond Hill-Bryan County Chamber of Commerce banquet.

The Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce handed out awards for Small Business of the Year and the DeVaul Henderson Community Service Award at the group’s annual banquet. The evening also saw the induction of a new Chamber director.

‘Small Business of the Year’ went to Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. Outgoing Chamber Chairman Jerry DeLoach, in his introduction, said Beef’s is a shining example of a business that has reached out to help the community. Owners Doug and Georgia Goolsby were on hand to receive their plaque.

"They have many fundraisers for the children’s sports teams in Bryan County and have been a great addition to this community," DeLoach said.

"We’re very excited about winning this award," said Doug Goolsby. "We like being in Richmond Hill. That’s why we opened this place - to give back and help the community while giving families a place to come after events."

Periodically, the DeVaul Henderson Community Service Award is given to a civic-minded person who has made a positive impact on the community, It is named for the late Henderson, who was known for his commitment and contributions to Bryan County. The award is not given every year, but is reserved for a nominee everyone deems worthy.

David Aspinwall is this year’s winner. The award was presented by Henderson’s widow, Richmond Hill attorney Michelle Henderson, who said the committee not only unanimously backed the recipient, but "wondered why we all haven’t thought of this person sooner."

Among his accomplishments are heading Relay for Life, coaching nearly 20 rec teams and assisting in the Chamber and Seafood Festival since the early days. He has served as President of the Savannah Chapter of the Georgia Society of Engineers and the Richmond Hill Exchange Club as well as chairman of the Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce.

"Despite the challenges of cancer, he has maintained a positive outlook on life," Henderson said. "He has lived here 30 years, and has been active in his community, his church and with youth organizations throughout that time. He is a man of integrity, humor, wit and grace."

DeLoach said Aspinwall is the perfect candidate for the award. He said Aspinwall was chairman when he joined the Chamber, and "he taught me how to deal with tough situations."

"DeVaul was a great leader in this community, and receiving an award in his name is a great honor," Aspinwall said.

Outgoing Chamber Chairman Jerry DeLoach announced that longtime board member, Coastal Atlantic Mortgage Vice President and Seafood Festival Chairman Janet Thayer as his successor.

"Anyone who can handle the festival, as big as it has gotten, is more than capable to run the Chamber," DeLoach said. "She is a proven leader and all the skills necessary to take it to the next level. She has been very involved in the Chamber for many years, and we’re thrilled that she has agreed to take on this responsibility for 2009."

DeLoach said he looks back fondly at his tenure, and "even though 2008 was a tough year professionally, I can’t help but be impressed by the list of accomplishments we had last year. We met all of our goals."

Thayer said she realizes the challenges that lie ahead considering the economic downturn, but said she is up to the challenge.

"We will concentrate our efforts on survival … The way we do it is we band together. Unfortunately, some of us won’t survive, but the majority of us will," Thayer said.

Thayer instructed the business people in attendance to communicate with the chamber and shop local. She said she looks for a strong 2009 for the chamber and predicts a 20 percent growth in membership.

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