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Palm Harbor Chamber honors leaders
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New board members Shelly Crawford, Don Gunter, Jewel McLeon, Cristina Ott, Justin Pagliuco, Sheila Priest, Lyn Curtis Turk and Spiro Verras stand with board members Jordan Myers, Kelli Snow, Christen Gonzalez and chamber president Connie Davis.
PALM HARBOR – The outside patio at the Crescent Oaks Country Club, decorated with a 1977 St. Petersburg Times articles on the KKK, Coffee Hour ads from 1981 and tee-ball plaques from 1984, brought attendees out of the heat and into Palm Harbor days of old, just as the theme ‘Cruizin’ thru the Years’ promised.

On Oct. 4, the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual awards dinner, honoring community members and inducting next year’s chamber board.

Marcus Harrison was named Citizen of the Year after serving 21 years in the Navy. Now, Harrison volunteers in the community, including holiday festivals, and serves on the PHCSA board.

“He served his country for many years,” said Palm Harbor Fire Chief Jim Angle, “but now he serves his community.”

Harrison, who also was named the 2013 Distinguished Veteran of the Year, said he was honored to be recognized and thanked the families of veterans in his acceptance speech.

“Whatever we sacrificed,” Harrison said, “our families did a lot more.”

Lifetime Achievement

Sallie Parks was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in the second year of the award.

Parks founded the PACE (Practical Academic Cultural Education) Center for Girls, served as president of the Dunedin Rotary Club and was on the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners from 1992 to 2000. In May 2007, Parks was chair of the Rotary Club committee that created the Rotary Centennial Nature Center at Honeymoon Island.

Business awards

Sheila Priest of Sheila J. Priest EA, LLC Accounting & Tax Services was named Small Business of the Year.

SunTrust Banks was named Large Business of the Year.

Joani Kelter, a financial adviser at the Tarpon Springs branch of SunTrust, accepted the award. Kelter previously served as president of the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Honorary mayor

The Honorary Mayor title, which is typically named at the annual awards dinner, was put off until after the Harbor Arts Festival Dec. 7-8 due to a late start in campaigning, said current Honorary Mayor Arlene Tracht.

Pamela Sprecher and Penny Lee Todd continue to vie for the position, including an appearance in the Palm Harbor Holiday Parade in December.

Votes can be cast for $1 online at www.p­almha­rborc­c.org. People can vote as many times as they want.

Other awards

Chamber president and CEO Connie Davis presented the Ambassador Award to Cristina Ott, who created the Chamber Welcome Committee.

“Christina does everything she can to welcome people to Palm Harbor and to the chamber,” Davis said. “But she also cares so much about retention and taking care of our members.”

The Chamber Staff Award was given to Eleana Rocco, Davis’ executive assistant.

“Eleana knows every little thing at the chamber and takes care of it all,” said outgoing chairman Connie Stewart Schuck.

FEAST Food Pantry was named Outstanding 501c3 nonprofit. The food pantry feeds about 1,800 families a week as well as collecting holiday gifts for children, a fundraiser that the Palm Harbor Chamber takes part in each year.

Two Law Enforcement Officers of the Year were named: Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies James Piper and Holly Tsanakaliotis. Jim Dalrymple was named East Lake Firefighter of the Year, and Dustin Seabolt was named Palm Harbor Fire Fighter of the Year.

East Lake Fire Chief Tom Jamison thanked Dalrymple, who is set to retire in two years, for constantly serving as a role model to his fellow firefighters.

“He’s an integral part of what we do,” Jamison said.

Angle recognized Seabolt for specific instances of bravery, including saving the life of a 15-year-old boy during Tropical Storm Debby in June 2012.


To close out the ceremony, Parks inducted the new board members Shelly Crawford, Don Gunter, Jewel McLeon, Cristina Ott, Justin Pagliuco, Sheila Priest, Lyn Curtis Turk and Spiro Verras.

Outgoing chairman of the board Connie Stewart Schuck passed her gavel to new Chairman Jordan Myers, officially ending her yearlong term.

“It’s truly an honor to be here,” Myers said.
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