The Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce held its 10th awards party on Thursday night, recognizing people and businesses around the county who demonstrate excellence.

Abby Walters won Citizen of the Year. Walters has been a Realtor since 2005 and the top-selling agent in Shenandoah County since 2012. In 2021, she realized her dream of becoming the principal broker of her own company, and she established Preslee Real Estate. She often promotes and supports local trades like plumbers, lawn care, septic services, concrete, house cleaners and local lenders. She’s taken on multiple leadership roles in her local school’s PTO and church, the Strasburg Business Alliance, Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce and Strasburg Mayfest and has given hundreds of community speaking engagements in schools and local events. She’s director of the county Industrial Development Authority and has volunteered at Autumnfest, United Way Day of Caring and Strasburg Rotary. Quietly, Abby and her husband, Jamie, sponsor or donate to multiple athletic teams, youth organizations, FFA, FCCLA and numerous other organizations.

The Humane Society of Shenandoah County won Non-Profit of the Year. The local Humane Society started with a group of interested residents in the 1970s, an event document explains, and it’s been a 501c3 organization since 1999. They have a comprehensive spay/neuter program that fixes about 100 animals a month, and their Homeward Bound Foster & Placement program helps rescue and place about 600 animals, mostly cats and kittens, each year.

Bryce Resort won Tourism Business of the Year. Bryce Resort has welcomed guests to its Basye location for 58 years. As one of only four resorts in Virginia, it offers skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and 800-foot snow tubing lanes, along with the nationally acclaimed Horst Locher Ski School. During the summer, it also offers mountain biking and is constructing a pool with a lazy river that is expected by Memorial Day weekend. With the addition of a second quad lift in 2022, the resort had more than 77,000 visitors during its last winter season and more than 19,500 visitors during the summer. The resort plans the addition of new ski slopes and a chair lift on the back side of the mountain with construction beginning in 2025.

Zachary Hottel won Young Professional of the Year. Hottel is the archivist for the Shenandoah County Library where he works to collect, preserve and share the county’s historic resources. Through his work, he’s been recognized by several local and statewide history organizations. He chairs the Shenandoah County History Council and the Virginia Caucus of the Mid-Atlantic Archivist Conference, and the governor appointed him to the Commonwealth’s State Historic Records Advisory Board. For the past four years, he’s also served as the chair of the Shenandoah County 250th Commemoration Committee, donating hundreds of hours to leading the committee. He also volunteers with the Woodstock Fire Department and is a top responder to emergency incidents.

First Bank won Large Business of the Year. The bank first opened in 1907. The bank has a mission of making a positive impact through one powerful action at a time. It employs 84 people across three full-service branches and an operations center. In 2022, First Bank supported more than 45 county organizations, including nonprofits, civic clubs and schools which resulted in over $65,000 in donations. They also support the community through their quarterly community outreaches such as collecting food, animal supplies and cold weather items. There are more than 20 employees who volunteer or serve on boards throughout the county. First Bank is one of two publicly traded companies headquartered in Shenandoah County.

Beidler’s Furniture won Small Business of the Year. The store was started by Freddie Beidler in 1945 and sold to Ross and Kathleen Cline on Aug. 1, 1973. Seven of the store’s 10 employees are family members representing the second, third and fourth generations of the Cline Family. Beidler’s features industry-leading brands such as La-Z-Boy, General Electric, Vaughan-Bassett, Serta and Traeger Grills, which are found inside the 7,000-square-foot showroom located on Main Street in Woodstock. Beidler’s is widely known for its excellent customer service, before and after the sale. The Cline family at Beidler’s donates to and/or sponsors the Woodstock Lion’s Club, Woodstock River Bandits, Furry Friends Antique, Gifts and More, Response Inc. and the Valley Baptist Golf Tournament.

Cindy Rinker won a posthumous Warren French Community Impact Award. The chamber wanted to honor Warren French Jr., who died in 2021, by naming the Community Impact Award in his name and awarding it annually to a person or organization who makes a lasting impression on the community.

Additionally, Tracey Jenkins, who co-chaired the party with Cristi Coryell, won Volunteer of the Year.

“It’s very exciting,” said Sharon Baroncelli, president and CEO of the chamber.

“From where the chamber had its beginnings to where it is 10 years later,” she said, “the growth, the activity, the representation we see from throughout the county, it’s a very exciting time.”

The ceremony, which was held at The Yellow Barn at Shenandoah Caverns in Quicksburg, was the largest in attendance so far, Baroncelli said.

The Shenandoah Caverns team partnered and offered catering for event with Flour & Water Co., Happenings Event Catering, Rutz’s BBQ & Catering, Triplett Tech culinary class and Twice Baked Provisions Pizza.

Music was provided by Seven Bends Entertainment. Attendees enjoyed a dance after the ceremony.

“It’s all about the winners coming together,” said Baroncelli.

Nominees in each category were:

Non-Profit of the Year

• Humane Society of Shenandoah County

• Just Because

• Response Inc.

Tourism Business of the Year

• Bryce Resort

• Jon Henry General Store

• Shenandoah County Fair

Young Professional of the Year

• Jon Henry

• Zachary Hottel

• Katherine Manley

Small Business of the Year

• Beidler’s Furniture

• Rutz’s BBQ & Catering

• The ButterCup

• Travelers Treasures

Large Business of the Year

• First Bank

• George’s

• Hampton Inn & Suites, Woodstock

Citizen of the Year

• Cristi Coryell

• Jim Douglas

• Abby Walters

Contact Josette Keelor at

(1) comment


Sheila Helsley should have received some recognition.

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