By MYRA THRIFT Staff Writer
Other officers installed during the annual awards and officer installation luncheon were Waycross Police Major Chris Tatum, president-elect, Summer Stipe, secretary, Larry Paul, assistant treasurer, Bill Deason, treasurer, and Michael Ray, immediate past president.
Accepting a position on the board of directors are Daniel Warren, Billy Dowling, Robbie Roberson, Clarence Billups, Priscilla Christopher, Billy Dowling and Geoff Jones.
“I am humbled to become the president of this club,” said Collins. “I am honored to follow in the footsteps of Michael Ray, Chris Tatum, Tony Tanner and others. There are some fine men who have served as club president.”
At the beginning of the meeting, Ken Carroll conducted a memorial for Jim West, a member of the club who died Dec. 21, 2016.
“He was one of the Greatest Generation,” said Carroll.
West served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, then put himself through college and earned an accounting degree from the University of Florida. In 2003, he joined the Waycross Exchange Club and continued as a faithful member until his death, Carroll said. He owned businesses in five different states.
In closing, Carroll lit a candle and read the poem “Beyond the Sunset,” then offered a memorial prayer.
Awards were presented by outgoing president Michael Ray to several outstanding members of the club who have served unselfishly during the year.
Daniel Warren, a former president of the club, was presented the Erin W. Johnson Award that goes to an outstanding member of the club.
The Ben Thornton Congeniality Award was presented to Will Higginson, who was present but left prior to the presentation.
The M.C. Thomas “Outstanding Fair Worker” award went to Santo Nino, a firefighter with the Ware County Fire Department who Ray said did an outstanding job of working the parking lots during the fair.
Ray said he did not choose one member for a president’s award this year because so many in the club had been helpful to him during his time as president.
Sidney Blanton, president of the Georgia District Exchange Club and a member of the Valdosta Exchange Club, was on hand to conduct the swearing-in ceremony for officers and directors.
He also announced that the Georgia District Leadership Conference will be held in Macon on Aug. 5 and urged Waycross Exchange officers to attend.