By Joshua Baethge

For the Anna-Melissa Tribune

The 12th annual Greater Anna Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Banquet is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Anna High School.

Attendees can expect good times, a few prizes and plenty of food catered by Smoken S BBQ.

They can also expect a large crowd - something Chamber President and CEO Kevin Hall says is a great thing.

“We planned on 300 people and we are a little over 300, but that’s A-OK. We will take that,” he said.

Hall recalls that when he joined the chamber, there were between 125-150 members. Today there are 280, stretching from Denison to Dallas.

According to Hall, people along the U.S. 75 corridor have joined the chamber because they either live in Anna, do business in the city, or want to better connect with the community.

The awards banquet is one of the chamber’s six largest annual fundraisers. Money raised will go toward the organization’s general operations fund to facilitate projects like networking events, community blood drives and scholarships for Anna High School seniors.

Chamber members have donated items ranging in price from $25 to $1,000 for a silent auction. Among the highlights are $1,000 off closing costs from a local Realtor, a $300 outdoor firepit, a free printer, a $50 eye exam, a handgun license and a round of golf at a county club.

After recapping some highlights from the past year, chamber officials will announce a new board and ambassadors for the coming year.

The night will conclude with the presentation of several awards recognizing leaders in business, community and philanthropy. Below are the nominees for each category:

Volunteer of the Year: Elden Baker, Megan Massey, Trent Wilson

Educator of the Year: Amy Kelly, Christian Gober, Curtis Hightower

Innovation Award: Anna Area Historical Preservation Society, Breaking Free, Inc., Texas Data and VoIP Security

Business of the Year: Lisa Biddle Realty Group – Keller Williams N Country, Guild Mortgage, Pin Oaks Christian Fellowship

Citizens Award: Betty Adams-Morriss, Betty Noe, Trudy Whitney

Community Partner of the Year: Anna ISD, Chris Jackson (Bloomfield Homes), Hurricane Creek Country Club

New Business of the Year: Andy Torres State Farm, Frazzy’s Gourmet Popcorn,Knight Family Chiropractic of Anna

Business Person of the Year: Darin Hayes (BancorpSouth), Dr. Richard F. Blume (OmniCare Orthodontics), Dr. Jan Wheat (Anna Family Healthcare)