DeLand Chamber installs officers

NEW OFFICERS — The DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce’s officers for 2018 are sworn in by Mayor Bob Apgar (back to camera, right). From left are Joe Hearn, president; Hector de Jesus, president-elect; Keri Wagner, treasurer; Amanda Agnew, vice president; and Susie Dolan, immediate past president. Not pictured is Amanda McHugh Worrall, secretary, who was emceeing the event.

NEW OFFICERS — The DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce’s officers for 2018 are sworn in by Mayor Bob Apgar (back to camera, right). From left are Joe Hearn, president; Hector de Jesus, president-elect; Keri Wagner, treasurer; Amanda Agnew, vice president; and Susie Dolan, immediate past president. Not pictured is Amanda McHugh Worrall, secretary, who was emceeing the event.

BEACON PHOTOS/JOE CREWS

KEYNOTE SPEAKER — Former Sheriff Ben Johnson reminisced about growing up in DeLand, mentioning businesses and merchants who were key to the sense of community a half-century ago.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER — Former Sheriff Ben Johnson reminisced about growing up in DeLand, mentioning businesses and merchants who were key to the sense of community a half-century ago.

New leadership is in place for the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce & Orange City Alliance.

At its annual meeting and installation event Jan. 22 at the Museum of Art - DeLand on North Woodland Boulevard, the 2018 officers and members of the board of directors took oaths of office administered by DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar.

The new officers are: Joe Hearn of Joe Hearn Events, president; Hector de Jesus, of Florida Hospital DeLand, president-elect; Amanda Agnew of State Farm Insurance, vice president; Keri Wagner of DaVita Labs, treasurer; and Amanda McHugh Worrall, the Chamber’s interim executive director, secretary. The immediate past president is Susie Dolan of Waste Pro.

The 2018 directors are Suzanne Forbes, Amy Gipson, M. Scott Kelly, Brian Leatherman, Katie Mentor, Josh Poertner, Mark Russell and John Wanamaker.

Two special awards were presented: to Kitty Allen as Volunteer of the Year, and to Mark Russell as Committee Chair of the Year.

Dolan, the outgoing president, said 2017 was a busy year.

“Thanks to everyone,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without help from a lot of people.”

For his part, Hearn, the 2018 president, said he has been humbled by all the phone calls and emails offering help in the coming year.

One goal is to reinvent the Chamber, such as through a wider use of social media. The Chamber will be working with Stetson University to flush out that endeavor, Hearn said.

“We also want to do more this year to show you how to grow your businesses, and show you how to be more successful,” Hearn said.

The keynote speaker was former Sheriff Ben Johnson, who reminisced about growing up in a small town in which “everybody knew everybody — and knew everybody’s business.”

Johnson talked about brick roads that were paved, businesses that are no longer here and the people who ran them, and antics he committed as a youngster.

“It was simple, a very simple life,” he said.

When DeLand started to decline, Johnson noted, a group of merchants banded together several decades ago to bring it back to life, eventually producing what he called “the best downtown” that isn’t averse to closing off major streets for parades, car shows and art festivals.

“That is just fantastic to me,” he said.

And while the DeLand area is fortunate to have many natural resources, its best resource is its people.

“The biggest thing is having the heart of the people to make it all work,” Johnson said. “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for what you do for this community. Without you, we wouldn’t have the beautiful DeLand, Florida, that we know and love.”

— Joe Crews, joe@beacononlinenews.com

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