Opp & Covington County Chamber of Commerce names 2024 award recipients

Published 11:00 am Sunday, May 19, 2024

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The Opp and Covington County Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Opp Hall of Fame Banquet on Thursday, June 13.

During the event, the chamber will induct two Opp citizens into the Hall of Fame and will present other awards, including Business of the Year, the Spirit of Opportunity Award, One of Opp’s Own Award, and the Dr. Jason Cain Memorial Award.

Those being inducted into the Hall of Fame are Carrel Wyatt and James Edward McCurley.

The 2024 Opp Business of the Year will be presented to Grit + Grind Coffee.

Other award recipients include Dr. Brock Kelley who will receive the One of Opp’s Own Award and will serve as guest speaker for the event; Ben Cooper will be recognized with the Spirit of Opportunity Award; and Ashley Kelley will be the recipient of the annual Dr. Jason Cain Memorial Award.

The event will be held at the First Baptist Church of Opp’s fellowshop hall, beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets are available for $40 for chamber members or $50 for non-camber members. Tables for eight people can be reserved for $280.

Following is information on this year’s award recipients. To see details about the Hall of Fame inductees, click here.

Business of the Year
Grit + Grind Coffee

Nestled on 108 West Covington Avenue, Grit + Grind Coffee emerges as a beacon of excellence, serving up premium specialty coffee while crafting unforgettable customer experiences. For over a year, this establishment has been a cornerstone of its community, captivating patrons with its dedication to quality and service.

Guiding the ship of Grit + Grind Coffee are the dynamic duo, Eric & Destiny Rowell, esteemed members of the Opp & Covington County Chamber of Commerce since the inception of their enterprise in 2022. Beyond their entrepreneurial endeavors, Eric & Destiny are avid travelers, fitness enthusiasts, and connoisseurs of culinary delights, all while embracing a deep connection to nature and outdoor adventures. Completing their family portrait is their 14-year-old son, Brayden.

At the heart of Grit + Grind Coffee lies a singular vision conceived by Eric & Destiny: to spread love, radiate positivity, and ignite the flames of ambition in others. Their aspiration? To curate a space where individuals converge, relishing exceptional coffee and cuisine while actively participating in their local community.

Today, Grit + Grind stands as a testament to their unwavering passion, boasting multiple locations across states and a trajectory of continuous expansion. Their commitment to community and industry sets them apart, marking them as deserving recipients of the Business of the Year Award.

One of Opp’s Own Award
Dr. Brock Kelley

Dr. Brock Kelley currently serves as President of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College.  Most recently, Dr. Kelley served as Regional Director of Workforce Development for the Alabama Community College System.  He has extensive experience in creating education-to-industry pipelines.  Dr. Kelley has been instrumental in developing programs and initiatives in the areas of career

Dr. Brock Kelley

awareness and career preparation across the state. Most recently, he founded the Alabama RISE Program at LBW which focuses on training individuals with disabilities for the workforce.

Before joining the community college system, Dr. Kelley served as the Director of Workforce Development for the Alabama Department of Education.  He earned his Ph.D. in

Adult Education from Auburn University in 2018.  In his most recent appointment, Dr. Kelley worked with each community college to foster and create pipelines between educational institutions which was highlighted by his integral part in the JumpstartAL initiative.

Prior to joining state-level government, Dr. Kelley worked just shy of a decade in K-12 where he served in numerous roles such as the Principal of Charles Henderson High School, and the System-wide Behavior Specialist with the Enterprise City Schools. During his tenure as Principal and most recently with the Alabama Department of Education, Dr. Kelley worked to increase the labor participation rate in Alabama by focusing on three areas such as career awareness, career exploration, and post-secondary preparation. 

Dr. Kelley is a native of Opp, Alabama and a graduate of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College.  During his time as a student at LBW, he was a member of the Saints Baseball Team before transferring to Troy University to extend his playing career.  While at Troy, Dr. Kelley completed a Bachelors in Collaborative K-6 and a Masters in Collaborative 6-12.

Spirit of Opportunity Award
Ben Cooper

Ben Cooper, recipient of the Spirit of Opportunity Award, proudly hails as an esteemed graduate of Opp High School, class of 2009, and LBWCC. Alongside his devoted wife, Breanna Cooper, they delight in nurturing their son, Elliot Cooper.

Ben Cooper

Ben’s steadfast dedication to community service shines through his multifaceted engagement over the years. Notably, he has rendered invaluable service on the Opp Chamber of Commerce board for six years, including a term as President. Furthermore, Ben spearheads the Farmer’s Banquet as the Committee Chair and stands as a founding pillar of the Opp Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Driven by a passion for local governance, Ben contributes his acumen to the Opp Zoning & Planning Board, enriching community development initiatives for four years. As a proprietor of a thriving farming enterprise specializing in hay, pecans, and produce, he also plays a pivotal role as an Amazon Hub Partner, managing two county delivery routes alongside his wife.

Ben’s influence extends into fraternal realms as a respected member of Shriners International. Professionally, he excels as the Full-time Sales & Finance Manager at JR’s Lawnmower Shop, showcasing his prowess in sales and finance with finesse.

Dr. Jason Cain Memorial Award
Ashley Kelley

Ashley Kelley began her studies with LBW as an Opp High School student dual-enrolled from 2021-2023.  Following her graduation from Opp High in 2023, Ashley continued pursuing a degree in Salon

Ashley Kelley

and Spa Management at the LBW – MacArthur Campus in Opp.  She is on track to complete her degree in December 2024.

Ashley’s commitment to education, perseverance, and ability to overcome obstacles are qualities that Dr. Jason Cain worked so hard to instill in his students.  She is eager to learn and help others in any way possible.   

In addition to being a full-time student, Ashley serves as an LBW Ambassador and promotes the College at various events.  She is very involved in student organizations and recently received a bronze medal in the Job Skill Demonstration category at the Alabama SkillsUSA competition in Mobile.   

Ashley is actively involved in her community as a member of Babbie Baptist Church where she serves as the VBS Director.  After graduation, she plans to work locally as a cosmetologist in Opp.