It’s great to see friends and neighbors recognized for the things they’ve done that had an impact on our community. In our busy work-a-day world it’s easy to overlook the extra things others have done to help make this a better place. The Greater Talladega Area Chamber of Commerce singled out some of those folks during its annual luncheon Thursday at the Shocco Springs Conference Center.

Johnny Ponder of Munford was named the Citizen of the Year. Ponder was elected to the county board of education in 1994 and has served ever since, and is recognized as one of the leaders in recognizing the forestry and wildlife around us in Munford’s schools. A strong advocate for nature education he was named the Conservation Educator of the Year in 2010. He has also been a leader in the Talladega County Treasure Forest chapter, and he is an organizer of the JAKES program which helps young people learn about hunting and hunting safety.

Talladega Fire Chief Danny Warwick was recognized as the Talladega/Munford region Public Servant of the Year. The recognition is both for his leadership in the fire department and his completion of 34 years of military service, including multiple deployments to Iraq.

Lincoln Parks and Recreation Director Roben Duncan is the Public Servant of the Year for the Lincoln area. In addition to promoting youth sports and activities for senior citizens she has been effective as a fundraiser, establishing an archery park in Lincoln, and as an organizer for the city’s Christmas parade. She also serves as president of a statewide organization of parks directors.

The chamber also recognized some of the area’s outstanding business leaders. For the Talladega/Munford area, Ken Allen was named Business Person of the Year. He and his family own and oversee the operation of eight stores, a truck stop, restaurant, three convenience stores and a warehouse, and Allen has also been involved in community and charitable events. Most notably, he was a founder and backer of the Davey Allison Memorial Park in Talladega for a number of years.

Lincoln’s Business Persons of the Year honor went to Bobby and Diane Smith whose energies have made an impact on the restaurant scene and beyond. The Smiths opened the Montana about a decade ago, and more recently also opened the Club Caribe on the lake, a wide-ranging enterprise that is still expanding in scope. They’ve also been involved in fundraising for various causes, including a casino night to benefit the Lincoln public library.

Worthy of their recognition, they all went beyond the minimum to make the world around them better.