The important role Jay plays, within the county and region, were highlighted on Thursday, April 12, as members of the Jay Chamber of Commerce joined together to celebrate another year.

The event, which inc uded entertainment and awards, was highlighted by keynote speaker Johnnie Earp, president of Grand Savings Bank and Chairman of the Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance.

Earp spoke how the chamber's involvement in local events, as well as regional projects, helps keep the community strong.

Earp told how NORA provides a collective voice, for the communities within its 14 county area. The organization means the community of Jay is part of a team of 600,000 people, with more than 270,000 employers throughout the northeast Oklahoma region.

He said NORA's membership opens doors, which allows the region to compete with the nearby northwest Arkansas for goods and services, as well as employment opportunities.

He encouraged chamber members to continue to work together on projects which benefit the city as a whole - such as the annual cruise night. 

"It's amazing how our community can turn out to make the event a success," Earp said. 

He said NORA is working to help the entire region grow through education and business resources, as well as legislative avenues.

Earp said in the next year, NORA officials will bring together the top 20 manufacturing businesses within the region, for a summit to find ways to strengthen those businesses connections for the whole area.

He said there is much wisdom and strength to be gained, as communities within Delaware County and the region, work together. 

"We will be stronger, if it is all of us standing together," Earp said. 

Other speakers during the evening included Miss Huckleberry 2018 Bryce Bennett and Miss Huckleberry's Outstanding Teen 2018 Summer Tate. 

The two young women, who will represent the community during the 2018 Miss Oklahoma pageant in June, discussed their respective platforms.

Award winners

During the evening, several awards were presented including Business of the Year - Liberty Free Range Poultry (DBA as Crystal Lake Farms), Church of the Year - First Baptist Church, for celebrating 100 years in 2017, and Volunteer Business of the Year - L&L Pawn Shop.

Volunteer of the Year honors went to Harley and Cynthia Buzzard. Harley Buzzard serves as the District 10 Cherokee Nation Tribal Counselor. 

Other volunteer honors were given out to the following: Jason and Kali Ward, Gus and Weaver Fisher, Jeffrey Kirby, and Jaime Zellow.