LAKE WALES, FL (Sept. 18, 2010)- Kathy Leight Berkowitz, Lake Wales News
Members of the Lake Wales Chamber of Commerce packed out the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church on Central Avenue to celebrate their fifth annual Carl F. Durso Excellence in Business Awards Luncheon Friday. “It is always a great event to recognize the business in town that we take for granted,” said Chamber of Commerce president Jason Penrod. Sponsors for the event, besides the Chamber, were Citizens Bank & Trust, Lake Wales Medical Center and Polk State College. Those presenting the two trophies awarded were Greg Littleton, chief executive officer for Citizens Bank & Trust, and Dr. Eileen Holden, president of Polk State College. Jerry Miller of Progress Energy was the keynote speaker for the event. Florida’s Natural Growers and Center State Bank were this year’s Durso award winners for “excellence in business.” On behalf of Florida’s Natural Growers, vice president of operations Charles Matthews said “it’s certainly an honor to receive this award and to join the list of other great companies that support Lake Wales and the Chamber.” “We have over 300 Lake Wales residents that work in our company. That really creates a deep regard in all of us for the city of Lake Wales, the accomplishments that they have achieved today, the opportunities they have going forward,” he said. And Paul Gerard, senior vice president and area executive of Center State Bank receiving the award on behalf of the bank, said they were “indeed honored” to receive the award. “It’s a joy for each of us to serve this community. We love Lake Wales. We try to mold each branch to fit in each community,” he said. The criteria for the award is the length of time the nominee has been in the community; the number of residents employed; the significant capital investments each has made to improve local operations and enable them to better serve their customers; community and employees; involvement in and contributions to various community organizations; and leadership provided by key management in local, statewide, civic and professional organizations. On hand for the festivities were Durso’s daughter Asunta Durso Fleming and son Marc Durso. “My whole family is very overwhelmed that we have this wonderful event yearly in my father’s name,” Fleming said.