Tuesday, January 10, 2017 - Updated: 2:27 PM
By Venita Fritz
Tickets are on sale for the Kentucky Lake Chamber of Commerce annual dinner on Jan. 19. The dinner will be held at the Kentucky Dam Village Convention Center and begins with a social hour at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 and the awards presentation at 7.
Chamber Executive Director Debbie Buchanan said the dinner will have an eclipse theme this year in an effort to raise awareness of the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, which is expected to draw thousands of visitors to the region.
Several awards will be presented following the dinner including Citizen of the Year, a Lifetime Achievement award, Business of the Year and a Tourism award.
The Citizen of the Year Award will be presented to Randy Newcomb, Executive Director of the Kentucky Lake Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Newcomb has served as director of the bureau since 2002 and prior to that worked as its marketing director. He is being honored for his work to end prohibition in Marshall County and for his efforts to brand the Kentucky Lake area as ‘The South’s Great Lake.’
Newcomb said he believes ending prohibition was something the county needed to do to move forward. “It was one step toward more commerce, more visitors and more business. We are seeing all of that happen now,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the only factor, but it is certainly one piece of it. I’m a firm believer that if you aren’t moving forward as a community, you are dying.”
Newcomb was also key in securing funding for and overseeing an effort to brand the Marshall County area as ‘The South’s Great Lake.’ In 2014, he worked with a team of community marketing specialists to conduct research of visitors and residents to identify the area’s strengths. The result was the identification of the area as ‘The South’s Great Lake.’
“This allowed us to take ownership of our lake and how great it is. We are no longer just another lake in Kentucky. We are THE lake in the commonwealth and in the south as well,” said Newcomb.
Shop-O-Rama, with locations in Draffenville and Calvert City, will receive the Business of the Year nod from the Chamber. For nearly 53 years, the variety/hardware store has been welcoming shoppers with a unique variety of merchandise including everything from clothing and giftware to hardware items.
Co-owners Mike and Edwin Donohoo purchased the store from founder Terry Tucker in 2014. Since then, they’ve moved the Calvert City store to a new location, nearly tripling its size and added giftware and a limited amount of clothing.
“We try to maintain a wide range of products the community and tourists need and want,” said Mike. “Hopefully we’ll be here doing that for another 50 years.”
The Moors Resort and Marina will be recognized with a Tourism Award at the annual dinner. Owners Mark and Kathy Wood say 2016 was a banner year for the property and they are hopeful the coming tourism season holds much more of the same.
Early last year the Woods remodeled and expanded Ralph’s Harborview Grill in advance of the beginning of tourism season. With the ability to sell alcohol in the restaurant, Kathy said, they were prepared for an increase in business, but they were surprised by just how much of a difference it made. They said food sales alone more than doubled from previous years and they were able to provide employment to about 30 more people than in 2015 for two extra months, due to an expanded season.
In recent years they have also replaced ten of the property’s cottages, added two additional cottages and replaced two, four-plexes. They have plans to continue renovations in more cottages and in the lodge in coming years.
“We try to reinvest and keep things fresh,” said Mark. “Our repeat customers say they look forward to coming back each year to see what we’ve been up to.”
Kathy agreed saying, “Our repeat business is incredible. We’ve got people who have been coming since the Moors opened (in 1951).”
A Lifetime Achievement award will be presented to Marty Johnson. Johnson has served Marshall County in a variety of capacities during his career. He is the attorney for the Marshall County Board of Education, a position he has held since 1981. He has also served on the boards of CFSB and the Marshall County Board of Health. Last June, he retired as the attorney for the City of Benton after nearly 40 years.
“It is a great honor to be recognized by the people you’ve worked with,” said Johnson. “I need to include my wife Sandra in the recognition. For many years, she allowed me to attend frequent night meetings, to leave things I was working on spread all over the dining room table at home and I couldn’t have done any of it without her.”