[email protected]

Smiles, suits, dresses, masks, and awards were part of the celebration held during the annual Washington County Chamber of Commerce Banquet and Masquerade held Feb. 29 at Berry Hill Gardens in Chipley.

The event was a networking opportunity for local businesses and also recognized award winners in various categories.

Chipley-based married couple Jennifer and Michael Corbitt, who run M.Corb Architectural Design, won Small Business of the Year. 

Chipley married couple Jennifer and Michael Corbitt, who own M.Corb Architectural Design, were named Small Business of the Year during the annual Washington County Chamber of Commerce Banquet and Masquerade held Feb. 29 at Berry Hill Gardens. [COLLIN BREAUX | Washington County News]

“They make the architectural design process approachable and accessible to everyone, bridging passion and functionality to life,” Chamber Board of Directors President Cindy Birge said. “They have not only served our community through their small business but they have also invested invaluable time into revamping the Thursday Night Lights downtown and other community efforts. They sponsor music, food, and more to help bring downtown back to life.”

Jenniffer Corbitt said their work is possible through their business team when accepting the award.

“We are completely honored for this award and grateful to be part of this amazing community,” she said. “We love Washington County and will continue to prioritize serving it well both in business and community service.”

The Large Business of the Year Award went to Florida Panhandle Technical College, which was established in 1967. 

“It met all our educational needs in Washington, Holmes, and surrounding counties for many years,” Birge said. “It has grown from nine programs to over 30 programs. … If you are a local to the area, it was a big deal in high school to go to vo-tech.”

FPTC Registrar Belinda Collins said they are “very honored” with the award.

“We do want to thank you guys for your support,” Collins said. “We are growing all the time. This year, almost every program we have has a waiting list. We’ve also added distance learning so we’re making our way into the new 21st century.”

The Jean Hollingsworth Ambassador of the Year Award went to Blessed Mess Cleaning N Organizing co-owner Lesleigh L. Hallford. She also runs a ministry which provides free and discounted cleaning services for sick and elderly individuals, as well as special needs people, veterans, and foster families.

“She finds solace in singing, painting, riding horses, and engaging in water sports,” Birge said. “Her passion for serving the community is evident in her commitment to helping those who are unable to clean and organize their own homes with various health issues.” 

The Community Leader of the Year Award went to Florida Power & Light regional External Affairs Manager and Chipley Mayor Tracy Andrews. Andrews also sits on various community boards, including for the Chamber.

“I am honored to call her my friend,” Birge said.

Andrews said it is always a privilege and honor to serve.

“I always wanted to make sure I’m where I need to when I need to be,” Andrews said. “If I’m not there, then who’s going to go and be there? … Being able to be that positive impact is what’s most important to me.”

The Presidents’ Award, which is new and was decided on by Birge that week, went to First Federal Bank Vice President and Branch Manager Tiffany Hitchcock, who also sits on the Chamber Board of Directors. 

“This whole year, this past year, you have stepped up in such a way,” Birge said. “We could not do what we do without you.” 

Hitchcock said she appreciates everyone and the Chamber “holds a special place in my heart.”