BAMBERG -- Lifelong Bamberg resident Hal Kemmerlin was named the Waddy Thompson Citizen of the Year at the Bamberg County Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Banquet on Nov. 2.

Kemmerlin was nominated for the honor by his brother, James, who wrote in his nominating letter, “Hal was born with both mental and physical disabilities, but these obstacles did not stop him from being the person and citizen he has become.”

Kemmerlin is well known to shoppers at Bi-Lo in Bamberg, where he has worked for the past four years after being employed for 31 years at the Bamberg Piggly Wiggly.

Also nominated for the the 2017 Citizen of the Year award was Detra Salley Bruce of Denmark, an Army veteran who is active with the Denmark-Olar School District and numerous community organizations. Bruce was a driving force in bringing the traveling Smithsonian exhibit, "Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America," to the county in 2015.

Claudia Sandifer of Bamberg was awarded the 2017 Emma Ruth Dowling Unity Award.

“I’m honored, and I’m very humbled by this,” Sandifer said.

Conrad Bishop was named the Evelyn McMillan Chamber Volunteer of the Year for his work in making the organization's annual summertime canoe and kayak trips on the Edisto River a success. The trips have grown in popularity each year, starting with 10 paddlers on the lone trip in 2013 to more than 380 paddlers participating in monthly trips in 2017.

Former Mayor League Baseball great William "Mookie" Wilson, an Ehrhardt native, gave the keynote address.

"We are not going to be New York City, but we’ll be the best Bamberg we can be," Wilson said during this remarks.

Wilson played Red Raider baseball for long-time Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School Coach David Horton before going on to play professionally with the New York Mets and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Contact the writer: paoverstreet@bellsouth.net.

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