FRONT ROYAL – More than a hundred business leaders, local politicians and civic-minded members of the Warren County community banded together Thursday evening for a night of celebration to honor the lighter side of life in the county.

The Warren County Chamber of Commerce focused attention on the volunteers, businesses and individuals who are working to make the county a better place to live.

Chamber Chairman Ray Bramble opened the evening thanking the community at large, commending them on their spirit and resilience.

“We’ve got great places to go,” he said. “We’ve got some things to learn from but this place will be even better in years to come.”

Bramble and the chamber are planning to create a better Warren County by highlighting men such as John Vance, who the Chamber awarded its Citizen of the Year Award.

Vance has served on various boards in Warren County since 1993 — including stints as a county supervisor, Zoning Appeals Board member and hospital board member.

“Those who know me well know that I’m almost never at a loss for words,” Vance told the crowded room after his standing ovation. “This is an exception to those times.”

Since 1985, when he and his wife moved to Warren County, he said they have endeavored to keep everything in the county. To the best of his ability, he said, he buys everything from Front Royal or Warren County.

“I have used Amazon one time, I think,” he said. “Amazon doesn’t pay sales taxes here. We do. And sales taxes help our community.”

“I believe in giving back,” he continued. “And I think everybody should. Volunteering really doesn’t hurt folks. It’s fun; and it helps.”

Bill and Sandy Long, owners of The Auto Care Clinic in Front Royal and winners of the Business of the Year Award from the chamber, said they are having fun helping the community.

The Auto Care Clinic is involved in community-oriented efforts ranging from purchasing sports uniforms to an annual car giveaway that includes a year of service.

Other award winners are:

Nonprofit of the Year — Blue Ridge Hospice

Entrepreneur of the Year — Mary and Will Carroll of Quality Title LLC

Public Safety Contributor of the Year — Lt. Tony Maiatico

Education Contributor of the Year — Lisa Rudacille

– Contact Max Thornberry at