Sebring Chamber Recognizes Locals, Businesses

SEBRING — When the Greater Sebring Chamber of Commerce gave out awards at its annual banquet Thursday, Hurricane Irma was at least a consideration indirectly.

Three of the awards were presented to businesses or individuals for their work to help the community recover.

Chamber President and CEO Liz Barber said it wasn’t the intent of the chamber to give out awards related to the hurricane, but those making the decisions saw a trend of nominations of people or businesses relating to the hurricane.

That wasn’t surprising, she said, because “it had an effect on everyone’s lives.”

The two businesses of the year for 2017 were Duke Energy and Glades Electric Co-op.

Rob Bullock, outgoing president of the chamber’s board of directors, said both utilities went above and beyond what was necessary to restore power to Sebring and Highlands County.

Duke and Glades were instrumental in getting Highlands County back to normal, Bullock said.

He said the power infrastructure was damaged to the point that repairing it involved more than dealing with damaged lines. Yet, 90 percent of Highlands County residents had their power back within a week of the storm.

Alan Jay Wildstein, owner of Alan Jay Automotive Network, and Highlands County Commissioner Don Elwell, were co-winners of the George Hensley Citizen of the Year award.

Wildstein received recognition because of his continued support of the community, including giving scholarships to students every year Bullock said that Elwell did a lot to make sure people were informed of the situation after the hurricane.

Other winners included Mary Tanner, who received the Thelma Pyle Volunteer of the Year Award, because she volunteers more than 30 hours each month. Pyle has volunteered at the chamber for about 47 years. Dave Springsteen was named Chamber Ambassador of the Year for 2017 because of his commitment.

Chamber Board Member of the Year for 2017 was Dusty Johnson, who helped reduce the chamber’s debt during his tenure.

Julie Fells was named as the chamber board’s new chairwoman. Fells works as director of Highlands Regional Medical Center’s Wound Care Center.

Part of the focus of the chamber during the next year will be to add more members. The chamber has set a goal of 120 new members.


Meilsel, J. (2018, January 27). Sebring Chamber recognizes locals, businesses. Highlands News Sun. Retrieved from