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Chamber honors community leaders

Officials hand out awards to leading residents and install new directors.

The Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce rolled out the carpet Wednesday at its annual awards banquet to honor residents for their contributions to the community and to install new officials with the chamber.

More than 150 people signed up to attend the banquet, held at Heritage Pines Country Club on County Line Road in Pasco County.

The Citizen of the Year Award went to Morris Porton, who is the president of the Economic Development Commission of Hernando County. Porton is also the chamber's liaison to the EDC. He is a senior vice president with SunTrust Bank and volunteers for the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Other nominees were Janey Baldwin, Ron Derocher, Gus Guadagnino, Irvin Homer, Helen Keith, Jim Kimbrough, Joan Lentini and Dr. B.R. Raju.

Business of the Year Award went to Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative Inc. Other nominees for that category were American Aviation Inc., Florida Crushed Stone, Innovative Technology, Wal-Mart Distribution Center and SunTrust Bank, Nature Coast.

The Community Service Award went to Mid-Florida Community Services Inc. The other nominees were Gordon Coburn, Hernando County Jail warden Jim Cooke, Rosalie Fredericks, Bob Henchey, William Korn, Deborah Walker, the Dawn Center, the African-American Club and George Williams.

Other winners were: Special Recognition Award, Jim Cooke; Business of Distinction Award, Rogers' Christmas House Village; Government Service Award, Jim Kimbrough; Chamber Service Award, Mary Beth Gary.

Each winner will receive a crystal eagle in recognition of the new millennium. Nominations were made by community members and turned over to a chamber selection committee, which chose the winners.

The chamber also installed its new board of directors and its new president, John Ehlenbeck, local vice president of Bank of America. He replaces Ted Smith.