There was an air of celebration at the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner on Friday night, but pinning down just one reason to be happy was not easy.
There was the 75th anniversary to celebrate, a new chairwoman - the Chamber's first black leader in Deborah Edmonds - and a multitude of businesses that took home much-deserved awards. The pomp-and-circumstance, the rousing applause and the standing ovations were all just the beginning, before the music and dancing allowed Chamber members to really revel.
The night's most coveted award, the business of the year, was shared this year. Now located less than a half-mile from each other, West Kentucky Community & Technical College and Paducah's Murray State University campus were honored for creating a virtual education corridor, where members of the community can be trained and take home degrees without traveling to do so. Interim President Tim Miller, Dean of the Center for Continuing Education and Academics Brian Van Horn and WKCTC President Barbara Veazey accepted the award.
Entrepreneur of the Year, which was given out by EntrePaducah head Chuck Sexton, was bestowed upon Ed and Meagan Musselman, the family behind the renovation of the historic Coke plant in Midtown. The plant has made great strides since the Musselmans purchased it, including the lighting of the iconic dome.
Rayla Bridges with the St. Nicholas Clinic Foundation was named Leadership Alumnus of the Year by the Leadership Paducah Foundation, and the Paducah Ambassadors were named the Chamber's Volunteers of the Year.
There was also special recognition given to two Paducah mainstays facing sweeping changes. State Sen. Bob Leeper, who is retiring from the legislature at the end of this term, was given a plaque. Also, the United States Enrichment Corporation, which will shutter its doors this year, was recognized for its partnership with the Chamber.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.