NEW MARKET – Amber Smoot, New Market events and marketing director, was awarded Outstanding Person of the Year by the New Market Chamber of Commerce on Friday evening.
A New Market native, Smoot assumed her current role with the town in March 2017. She’s since launched an e-newsletter detailing town events, organized a host of community events, and kick-started a series of Facebook Live videos to highlight local businesses.
The evening’s emcee, Bruce Alger, who is also a member of the New Market Rotary Club, announced Smoot’s contributions to Shenandoah County’s southernmost town.
“She has been a tremendous asset not only to town government but to the citizens, businesses and nonprofit organizations in town,” Alger said. “Amber has a way of letting those volunteers know that they are appreciated and that they are truly contributing to their community and are building a better New Market through their efforts.”
Smoot wasn’t able to claim her honorary plaque in person, as she was still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, but town manager Todd Walters accepted the award in her stead.
After making his way to the front of the room, Walters held the plaque a bit away from his body, paused, and said, “I really hate she’s not here.”
“She has this town in mind, she’s thinking about it constantly: ‘Hey, what can I do to make it better?’” Walters said. “She works very hard … I’m glad we’ve got her.”
The Chamber of Commerce members also voted to present two more awards Friday evening to honor the town’s top organization and top business.
The New Market Rotary Club won Outstanding Organization of the Year for hosting a variety of fundraisers and service projects to benefit the town, including the annual Reading with the Rebels event and the club’s contributions to New Market’s July 3 Celebration.
The Outstanding Business of the Year award went to Jackson’s Corner Coffee Roastery and Café at 9386 S. Congress St. Alger briefly outlined the business’ history.
“This business owner from Dayton (Ohio) started roasting coffee approximately 10 years ago in his garage as a hobby,” Alger said. “An opportunity became available to purchase the old cafe and continue roasting the coffee on a bigger scale … (Now) the cafe has a daily, steady flow of patrons, and is truly an asset to the town of New Market.”
The ceremony was held in the banquet room of the Southern Kitchen, which also catered the event. Several chamber members also offered items for a silent auction, including season tickets to the New Market Rebels’ baseball games, a Civil War padlock and a bouquet of Atomic Fireball candies and Fireball whiskey airplane bottles.
To Amy Proctor, who has been president of the New Market Chamber of Commerce for three years, the chamber has been gradually turning the corner from stagnant membership growth and ineffective budgets. She said she sees the chamber entering a new era of stability and strength, and said events like Friday’s are essential for this trend to continue.
“It’s crucial for us because it’s a good time to celebrate our accomplishments as a community,” Proctor said. “Because we’re on the far end of the county, we’ve maintained our own identity as well. Doing things like this helps us to celebrate our community activities and what we’ve done to work together.”
Historically, Proctor said, the town and the chamber haven’t always had a smooth relationship, but in recent years this too has reversed. Proctor said that Smoot, in particular, has acted as a great bridge between the two organizations.
“The town of New Market and the chamber are now simpatico. We’re not pulling against each other, we’re working together,” Proctor said. “It’s a really great working relationship. To me, her (Smoot) winning that award — she was the perfect person to be chosen.”