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Chamber reflects on successful year
Welch award presented to Sorrells
Chamber WEB
Chamber president and CEO James McCoy congratulates Charles F. Welch Citizenship Award winner Doug Sorrells. - photo by Crystal Ledford

A former longtime court official received the highest community service award Friday night during the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner Celebration.

Doug Sorrells received the 2012 Charles F. Welch Citizenship Award before a crowd of about 500 at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.

Forsyth County Probate Court Judge Lynwood “Woody” Jordan Jr. made the presentation.

The annual honor recognizes someone who has dedicated much of his or her life to serving the county. It is given in memory of Welch, a former Cumming councilman and Forsyth commissioner.

Sorrells, a lifelong county resident, served as clerk of court from 1996 to 2008, as well as spending about six years as the chairman of the board of tax assessors.

He also served as one of the members of Forsyth County’s first civil service board.

Throughout his life, he has served the community through a number of civic clubs and organizations such as Rotary, the Republican Party and the Masonic Association.

“Seldom does one have the opportunity to participate in the public recognition of a friend and colleague who is so outstandingly deserving of an award such as this,” Jordan said. “Doug is the model of that citizenship that makes our community such a unique place.”

Sorrells was surprised and honored to receive the award.

“I knew Charles Welch most all of my life and he was a great role model for all of us,” he said.

“I like to be involved with my fraternal orders and with my Rotary [Club] and most of all with my church, and I just want to say this is such an honor to be selected to receive the Charles Welch Award from all of the people that could have been chosen.”

Also during the meeting, outgoing chamber chairman David Seago discussed some of the organization’s accomplishments over the past year.

Seago said the chamber added some 200 new members in 2012 and handled several economic development projects. Those included seven in the international business arena, which generated 250 new jobs and $9 million in capital investment.

In total, he said the chamber has worked with a total of 16 new and existing companies to create some 750 jobs and $67 million in capital investment.

Among those, he said, is IUS Technologies, a Korean-based technology firm, which recently selected Forsyth as the site of its U.S. headquarters and manufacturing site.

Seago said the company, which specializes in product development and system integration for electric utility markets, is expected to generate up to 150 jobs over the next five years and invest some $2.8 million.

Another addition is Algae Energy, a biofuels company which brought its U.S. headquarters to Forsyth in 2011.

This year it expanded its facility to accommodate new laboratories and an assembly plant, which Seago said could generate some 50 jobs and $2 million in capital investments.

Seago also praised the chamber’s staff, including Jason Mock, director of the Small Business Services Center, which assisted more than 220 businesses in 2012.

He also complimented Anna Barlow, who came aboard in 2011 as the director of tourism.

Seago said she has worked more than 30 leads resulting in more than 6,000 hotel room nights in 2012.

Incoming board chairwoman Linda Cole said 2013 would be “the year of opportunity” for the chamber and community.

She said plans include adding a new project manager for economic development and a new staff member to focus on the Forsyth County Health Association.

In addition, Cole said efforts would be made to take advantage of local parks and recreation facilities to bring in more amateur sporting events.

“Opportunity is what makes Cumming and Forsyth County so remarkable and sets us apart from so many places in the world,” Cole said. “I ask you to join me in making 2013 the year of realized opportunities.”