Joe Alexander named 'Person of the Year' during Chamber membership meeting

By Greg Miller

The Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday held its 68th annual membership meeting at the Truman Clark Annex of the Carter County Health Department, and Joe Alexander was named "Person of the Year".
   Outgoing Chamber President Duncan Street introduced Sycamore Shoals Hospital CEO Scott Williams as the Chamber President for 2004.
   Williams said the theme for the new year is "Planning for Our Future Growth."
   "I feel strongly that Elizabethton/Carter County are now approaching a window of opportunity," he said.
   Elizabethton and Carter County have "taken a very good first step" with the hard work that Keith Young and David Bautista have done with the community visioning meetings, Williams said.
   Williams stressed the importance of building strong, long-lasting relationships "with different interests within our community, to make sure that we have a strong, solid vision for the future and that we're all moving in the right direction.
   "I think we need to build relationships with our existing industries. Our existing industries are critically important ... to the success of Carter County, and the Chamber of Commerce plans to continue our visits to existing business and industry and ask them, 'What can we do as the Chamber of Commerce to continue our work and move forward in the future?'" Williams said.
   "I think we need to build relationships with our local governments. Our Chamber of Commerce needs to have very strong ties, as they do now, with our county government and our city government and sit down and ask them, 'What vision do you have for the future, and how can we pull these visions together into a common goal for our community?'"
   Street, who said it was an honor to serve as president of the Chamber last year, gave the "Presidential Citation" to First District Public Defender David Bautista. Street said Bautista was a big help to him during the year. "The reason I selected David Bautista is that every time something came up, I had a phone call or an e-mail from David (asking) 'What can I do?'"
   "I look forward to continuing to do all that I can for my county," Bautista said.
   Deacon Bowers, recipient of the "Citizen of the Year" award for 2002, introduced Joe Alexander as the winner of the 2003 award. Alexander said he still gets excited every day driving to downtown Elizabethton. "It's such a great place," he said.
   "But Elizabethton and Carter County is so much more than a nice downtown. All you have to do is look out the window at the wonderful natural beauty we have here, the things to do. Look at the history of this area. It almost seeps from the rocks and the trees."
   Carter County's most valuable resource, he said, "is our wonderful people. We have wonderful people here."
   A 1973 Elizabethton High School graduate, Alexander earned a B.S. degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1977. He joined his father's insurance business, Elizabethton Insurance Agency, in 1977 and purchased the business in 1984.
   He is an active member of First Presbyterian Church. Alexander has held positions in various business and service organizations, including The Rotary Club of Elizabethton, The Insurors of Tri-Cities, the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Elizabethton, the Elizabethton Downtown Business Association, the Elizabethton/Carter County Holiday Lighting Fund, and the Carter County Chapter of the University of Tennessee Alumni Association.
   In 1998, Alexander was appointed for a one-year term to the University of Tennessee National Alumni Association Board of Governors. Since 1991, Alexander's business has sponsored and he has presented the 100 percent effort award to a deserving student at T.A. Dugger Jr. High School each six weeks grading period.
   Alexander enjoys spending time with his family, jogging, reading, watching high school and college sports, and collecting early U.S.-manned space program memorabilia.
   An Elizabethton native, Alexander is the son of Edwin Alexander, Jr. and the late Ruth Bowers Alexander. He is married to his high school sweetheart, the former Debbie Barker.
   In addition to Alexander, nominees for the award included Catherine Armstrong, Bill Armstrong, Dot Cable, Ralph Cole, Helen Collins, John Hubert, Tommy Jenkins, Kathy Pierce, Carmella Price, Robert Reedy, Charles Stahl, and Keith Young.
   Chamber Executive Director Barbara Treadway presented the President's Plaque to Street as well as a scarpbook containing memories of Chamber activities from last year. "This is a year in the life of Duncan Street," remarked Treadway, who said some items remain to be added to the scrapbook.
   Josh Smith, Keith Young, Robert Reedy and Kristin Smith provided entertainment for the meeting.