Derek Waugh says it’s “exhausting” to live in Dalton.
But “exhausting” in a good way.
The Dalton State College athletic director spoke at the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet at the trade center Tuesday night, saying the area stands out from his native Atlanta and other places he’s lived over the years in how involved community members are in making the community a better place. He cited local leaders’ roles in organizations and causes such as Grow Greater Dalton, the newly created Miracle Field for children with disabilities, United Way of Northwest Georgia, individual charities and many others.
“I’m from Atlanta,” Waugh said. “It definitely did not happen there.”
Waugh was listed on the banquet program as “Mystery Guest Speaker 290.” Organizers refused to identify the guest speaker until right before he came to the podium. The “290” was a reference to the number of new Chamber members volunteers recruited over two days in August, bringing total membership to 1,151.
Waugh joked the revelation of his identity was as disappointing as the day the audience learned Santa Claus was actually just their parents, but he added that as someone who has lived in the area fewer than two years, he is qualified to speak from a different perspective than long-time residents — even if Waugh Street isn’t named after him or his ancestors.
The Dalton area is enthusiastic, competitive and active, so much so, he said, that “I almost feel like if we don’t go undefeated (in college sports), we’re going to let people down ... I could not be more proud to live in this community.”
Incoming Board Chairman Robert Smalley, a local attorney, said he wants to focus in the coming year on economic development, membership retention and becoming more vocal on tougher issues that affect the business community. Smalley said being the voice of business could mean taking a public stand on any number of political or non-political issues.
Outgoing Board Chairman Bryan McAllister of Brown Industries recognized several groups and individuals with awards at the banquet including Jennifer Baxter of Smith, Lewis and Haley, who was named Diplomat of the Year. Don Adcock of Adcock Financial Services was named Small Businessperson of the Year after growing his company significantly. The Chairman’s Award to honor an outstanding volunteer went to Joe Yarbrough of Mohawk Industries for his involvement in countless community, educational and charitable causes and organizations.
Chamber members also recognized local business Manly Steel’s 125th anniversary of being established in Dalton, and they recognized national chain Belk department stores for being in business 125 years.