The winners of two of the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce’s most notable honors had no idea their names were going to be called Thursday night.
Lamar Allen, the current chairman and longtime member of the board of education, received the Chamber’s top distinction, the John Adam Treutlen Award, and David Harris of U.S. eBusiness Solutions was named the small business of the year at the Chamber’s annual meeting.
Allen said he didn’t know something was afoot until just before the crowd sat down to eat, and he noticed who was walking into the room.
“I certainly appreciate it; I don’t know that I deserve it as much as a lot of folks,” he said.
The Treutlen Award was established to recognize citizens who contributed to the betterment of the community. State Rep. Jon Burns read a proclamation signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, outlining Allen’s accomplishments and involvements.
“Lamar Allen’s contributions to the citizens of Effingham County and the state of Georgia are too numerous to mention,” the proclamation stated. “His devotion to improving the lives of others is of the highest quality and is deserving of great recognition.”
Allen is a member of Springfield United Methodist Church, where he served on the administrative board, and he is also a past board member and president of the Chamber. As Chamber president, he was instrumental in starting the annual Effingham Day at the Capitol.
“And I don’t know how many turkeys he fried when we started Effingham Day at the Capitol,” said Michael Moore, the former superintendent of Effingham County schools.
Allen also served in the Georgia Army National Guard for 26 years, retiring as a first sergeant.
A graduate of Effingham County High School, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Georgia Southern College, Allen also has been a member of the Ogeechee Soil and Water Conservation District. He was named its conservationist of the year in 2003.
“As you can see, he’s been quite busy,” Moore said.
Allen also has been a longstanding member of the Rotary Club of Effingham County and as its president, encouraged the club to work with Special Olympics.
“He has a big heart and he’s always loved children,” Moore said. “He is a Christian man with a strong set of high moral values. Over the years, he has given unselfishly of his time and talents in many worthwhile endeavors that ultimately have benefited many in our county.”
Allen also was instrumental in the creation of countywide recreation programs, serving on the first recreation board.
“He worked diligently on the first recreation board of Effingham County to provide wholesome activities and build facilities for youth and adults in the county,” the proclamation read.
Allen’s father, who began 28 years of service on the board of education and also was on the county commission, and grandfather began a long line of serving, Moore pointed out.
“He comes from a family that fostered the nation that public service is important and that we should be all concerned with the well-being of our fellow citizens,” Moore said. “He learned this by example.”
Allen’s father G.G. also was a Treutlen Award recipient, getting the distinction in 1997.
“We’re proud of you,” Burns said, “and we’re glad you’re our friend.”
Harris’ firm, U.S. eBusiness Solutions, is an Internet and social media consulting firm. He started his business after losing his job with a previous firm.
“This is definitely shocking,” he said. “Three years ago, my wife and I moved back to raise our seven children because we wanted to raise them in a community that we felt like could provide a full Christian and loving environment.
“Not only have you embraced my family and my children and me,” Harris said, “but you’ve embraced my business. You guys have supported me in my efforts. I can’t think of a better place to live.”
Tiffany Webb was named the Chamber ambassador of the year but was unable to attend the event.