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Riley to address Chamber banquet tonight

The Andalusia Chamber of Commerce will host its 81st annual banquet tonight at 7 p.m. at the Kiwanis Center, and a number of special guests, including Governor Bob Riley, will be in attendance.

Chamber members and friends spent much of Monday morning decorating and getting everything into place for the event.

Bette Reynolds, executive vice president of the chamber, said all 667 seats have been sold.

"We've reached our goal," Reynolds said.

Other special guests will include several state officials, including House Speaker Seth Hammett, Senator Jimmy Holley, Director of the Alabama Industrial Development Office Neil Wade, Treasurer Kay Ivey, and Deputy Treasurer Anthony Leigh.

Members of Opp and Andalusia Chambers of Commerce will attend, including Opp Chamber President Oren Stewart.

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson will also be at the head table.

The theme for the event will be "Stars Fell on Alabama," which will also be sung be those in attendance, according to Reynolds.

Food will be catered by Tabby D's, and will be served after the guests of honor are introduced.

Reynolds said the governor will have to leave the banquet early, so he will speak first.

Following Riley's speech, the presentations of Student of the Year, Teacher of the Year, the Community Service Award, and the Distinguished Service Award will take place.

The new chamber president, Wem Mellown will then receive the gavel from outgoing president Patricia Blanton as he assumes his new position.

The ceremony will be "a culmination of the events in 2003," according to Reynolds.

"Many of the awards were not earned in just one year; they took many years," she said.

Reynolds added the banquet is a big deal for Andalusia and the community.

"The banquet is timely and enjoyable," she said. "This is the best feature of the community."