The Inola Area Chamber of Commerce recognized businesses, presented awards and highlighted events of the year at their Annual Banquet on Saturday, Feb. 3.

Guest speaker, Joan Hess from the Oklahoma Centennial Commission gave an slide presentation of what Oklahoma and communities all across the state are doing to celebrate Oklahoma’s Centennial this year.

Barney Grigg was honored as Citizen of the Year.

“ Often there are people living in a community that go about their daily business and quietly help others and volunteer in the community,” Chamber President Paula Roland said. “Barney Grigg is one such person, an unspoken hero who would no doubt shy away from public acknowledgment of the many contributions he has made to Inola.”

Grigg has served on the Inola Volunteer Fire Department for 33 years, joining Jan. 18, 1974. He has served as the Fire Chief 18 of those years, and currently holds that title. Barney also holds certifications for Jaws of Life, 1st Responder, Wildlife Firefighter, Scuba Diver, Incident Command and HAZMAT.

Grigg is also very instrumental in writing grants that help provide funding for the fire department.

In addition, Grigg is active in the First United Methodist Church where he serves as a Building Trustee. He is faithful in his efforts to maintain the building and lawn. According to Pastor Hay, Barney repairs most anything at the church and is always one of the first to step up and take care of repairs such when a storm damaged the roof.

Church members Dorothy Turner and Maxine Cummins both commented that Barney never was one wanting to be known for his singing ability or ability to teach a Sunday school class; however, with his hands and other talents, he’s been a mainstay at the church for years.

Grigg was instrumental in the creation of Old Walt’s Haunted Hayride which will celebrate its 11th year in October. According to Kay Ingersoll, it was his idea to start the project that has generated thousands of dollars that go back into the Inola community every year.

Grigg helps many organizations and individuals throughout the community with special projects. He assists with the Christmas decorations for the town every year. This year, when called upon by the Chamber to help with the flag project, he graciously agreed and took his own time to put up more than 15 newly purchased American flags just in time for the Fourth of July holiday.

Tom and Susan Green, owners of Green Development Corporation, were honored with the Business of the Year award.

“There are many businesses in Inola that are deserving of recognition, and it is a pleasure for the Chamber to honor the Greens this year,” Roland said. “By honoring them we are saying to all the businesses, you are important to Inola and we value your contributions.

The Greens moved their headquarters from Catoosa to Inola in March of 1990.

They do not operate as a real estate company contracting to sell real estate for individual property owners, but have built and sold numerous homes in Inola west of town on Green Valley Road and own and operate low-cost apartments available for senior citizens.

Susan Green is always training to find ways to help seniors. Some of the ways are teaching site managers what seniors can use as a deduction to keep their rent at the lowest possible level. Finding services at an affordable price for seniors enables them to live active lives and live in the apartments longer and safer. Eleven of the 80 complexes are for elderly and the disabled.

Green Development Company manages over 1800 apartments in Oklahoma and Texas, which is obviously up from 500 apartments they started with in 1990.

In 1990 they had a total of 20 employees, with nine in the Inola office. They have a total of 70 employees with 16 in the Inola office. About 10 of the present employees live in Inola. Green Development is a member of the Inola Area Chamber of Commerce and has participated in the Rogers County United Way Drive.

The Greens have three children, all of whom graduated from the Inola High School.

Roland also announced the winners of Inola Entrepreneurs of the Year Award. They are Quality Truss in the Manufacturing division; Powell Chiropractic for Service; and the Inola Feed Store for Retail. These businesses will be entered into the Rogers County Industrial Development Authority Entrepreneur of the Year competition scheduled for March 1 at Claremore Expo Center. A date will be set to officially recognize these businesses for their contributions and services they provide to the community of Inola.

Roland recognized Terry Bales, Stephani Freeman, Rosalie Griffith, Charlene Harrell and Linda Moody for their outstanding contributions to the Chamber this past year.

New officers for 2007 will be Terry Bales, president; Stephani Freeman, vice president; Rhonda Cooksey, secretary; and Thea Moss, treasurer.

Mayor Cheryl Charles addressed the banquet giving an update on the progress made this past year, what the City is currently working on and a look at the future. She reported on several projects that the City will be working on, one being a new $1.8 million sewer line, work to widen the bridge on Southwest Boulevard and laying a new water line that will improve water pressure and fire protection to the West side of Inola.

Mayor Charles also reported on land being purchased to expand Inola’s industrial area which will mean new jobs and sales tax revenue. The Planning Commission is currently working on the 911 System in town as well as a plan for rezoning for the future growth of Inola.

Mayor Charles said these projects will be presented to the TASK Committee and the City Council for final approval.

Improvements have been made to the Town Hall and Police Department, more than doubling their space. Mayor Charles also commended the Police Department for their efforts during the ice storm and power outage.

She reminded everyone that Inola Day will be held at Will Rogers Downs Casino in Claremore on March 10 and encouraged everyone to attend.

The new Welcome Brochure is also now available for distribution and will be available in local businesses as well as the Information Center in Catoosa.