Blount County Chamber of Commerce

Maryville, Tenn. – Six individuals and businesses that gave their time and resources to make Blount County a special place to live and work were honored at the Blount Partnership Best of Blount Awards held at the Clayton Center for the Arts Thursday evening. Alcoa Inc., Mary Beth West Communications, The Daily Times and WATE-TV sponsored the event.

The awards program, which saw more than 800 attend and was hosted by WATE-TV anchorwoman Lori Tucker, marked the first time the awards focused on the Blount County community as a whole, rather than only on the business community.

“This was a special night to honor those that give back so much to the Blount County community,” said Blount Partnership President/CEO Bryan Daniels. “These individuals and businesses work tirelessly to make sure that this community remains strong and vibrant.”

The program included a year in review video for the Blount Partnership which highlighted the fact that it has brought in over 2200 jobs and more than $431 million in capital investment over the past four years.

Vanquish Worldwide, a global logistics company, received two awards. It took home the Large Business of the Year honor while its president, Eric Barton, was named Philanthropist of the Year. Vanquish gave back by supporting organizations that assist disabled veterans and their families. Barton has taken it upon himself to give back to more than two dozen community groups, including the Smoky Mountain Service Dog organization.

Accounting firm Ingram, Overholt and Bean, P.C., was named the Small Business of the Year for its help with nonprofits by providing reduced or no-cost services as well as fundraising efforts.

The outstanding work done by Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee in providing meals every day to an 18-county area earned it the Community Impact Award.

Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson’s rider guest services program helped it win the Tourism Award.

The Bright Future Award went to LeConte Realty which continues to grow quickly in this its second year of operation.

The evening was highlighted with a special visit from former Navy SEAL Team 6 leader Robert O’Neill who delivered a motivational talk about never quitting and being an effective communicator. He also lightened the evening with descriptions about the training process a SEAL undergoes while talking about the family atmosphere he and his team enjoyed with each other.

“I can’t say enough about the energetic talk that Robert gave,” said Daniels. “His talk about leadership and the never quit attitude is something everyone can live by.”

Additionally, WWII veteran Bernard Blasko was presented his Bronze Star by O’Neill in a ceremony held prior to the awards ceremony.

Blasko, 90, served in the U.S. Army with the 101st Infantry Regiment, 26th infantry Division. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge along with other decorations while seeing serving in Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe.

Additional sponsors included Allcor Staffing, Blount Memorial Hospital, DENSO, Newell Rubbermaid, Staffing Solutions and Blount Excavating.

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