By MIKE WEST, Courier Editor
Completion of state Route 70s between Woodbury and McMinnville was at the top of the list of discussions at the Cannon County Chamber of Commerce's annual banquet.
The event, held Thursday (Jan. 16) at the Arts Center, was marked by a transition of leadership from two-term Chamber president Neal Appelbaum to new president Ron Fryar, owner of the Cannon Courier.
During the session, Appelbaum was recognized for his leadership and Carolyn Motley, Chamber coordinator, was for her hard work.
"We have a list of things we've got to do" during the coming year, Fryar said, and completion of 70S is near the top of the list.
"Cannon County is the hub of a five community wheel," he said, explaining that Woodbury is centrally located 30 miles or less from McMinnville, Murfreesboro, Manchester, Smithville and Lebanon.
"We can be the center of this," Fryar said, "and still maintain our slower pace of life, but with more amenities."
A number of people are working behind the scenes to get the highway project back on track, he said.
"The four lane completion is the key to the future for Cannon County," agreed County Executive Mike Gannon, who was among the 90 business leaders attending the banquet.
Gannon said officials from Cannon County and Woodbury will be meeting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23 at the Courthouse for a public meeting on the four lane project.
The meeting was marked by the introduction of the 2014 Chamber officers with Fryar as president, Connie Rigsby as vice president and Wanda Thompson as treasurer. Rigsby is director of the Cannon County Senior Center. Thompson is owner of the Blue Porch Restaurant, which catered the meal for the event.
New Chamber board members are Sue Conley, CEO of Stones River Hospital, Daryl Fisher, county maintenance supervisor, and Phillips Reed, Ace Hardware associate.
Retiring board members, Travis Hancock, Anita Parton and Anna Pittman were also recognized.
Appelbaum spoke briefly on the achievements achieved during his terms as Chamber president.
The Chamber has grown to 89 members, adding 16 new members during 2013 alone.
In 2013 the Cannon Chamber went to Murfreesboro and staged a Chamber After Hours gathering at Cannonsburgh.
"We were the first county outside of Rutherford to do this and it was a great success," Appelbaum said. "We've already been invited back."
"People who visit us are so surprised that we have so much going on in Cannon County," he said.
Appelbaum also invited several Chamber members to briefly share their stories of success.
Scarlett Turney, of the Arts Center, outlined some of the center's upcoming projects including Beauty and the Beast Jr., an upcoming play for children which opens Feb. 7.
Sandy Katz, an internationally known expert on fermentation, moved to Cannon County 20 years ago.
"I got interested in fermentation … I wrote a book about it and it did pretty well," Katz said.
He has taught hundreds of fermented food workshops around the United States and his book "Wild Fermentation" has been called a classic. Katz is currently revamping a log cabin into a classroom on Short Mountain.
Tabitha Smith told the Chamber members about the growth of her medical business. "My approach to medicine is common sense." Her business has grown from part-time to an overgrowth of full-time. Construction is beginning on her new offices on West Main Street near the Cannon Inn and a second physician has been added to the staff, Heather Melton.
Connie Rigsby said the Senior Center is a roaring success.
"Fifty percent of the seniors in Cannon County come to our place," Rigsby said, adding that additional $10,000 health exercise equipment has been ordered and will be added to the center's growing health program.
"We are a wonderful, beautiful facility," said Sue Conley, CEO of Stones River Hospital. "We have a lovely building, a great staff. They don't love you as much in Nashville."
The 60-bed hospital served 6,000 people in its emergency room during 2013. "We have a great restaurant too," Conley said.
Gary Hancock of DTC said the co-op is working hard to speed up its broadband connections. "We are just about ready to roll it out."
"We're not a huge company, but can provide the same services they can," Hancock said. Those services include tech support for computers and security performed by local employees. "People that you know."
Randall Reid, chairman of the Industrial Development Committee, talked about the quality of life in Cannon County. "Our task _ almost an obligation _ is to sell these attributes," Reid said.
"Rutherford County's population will double in 20 years. That's a ton of opportunity for us. We are going to grow in spite of ourselves. We need to capitalize on this windfall," he explained. "We need you to help … step up to the plate."