01/20/06 — Mount Olive Chamber names director

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Mount Olive Chamber names director

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on January 20, 2006 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Gena Knode has been named to take the helm of the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce.

Mike Rackley, the new chairman of the chamber board of directors, announced the appointment of Knode as the chamber president at the organization's annual banquet Thursday night. She will start work Feb. 1.

"We're excited to have Gena come on board," Rackley said. "Feb. 1 cannot come fast enough."

Mt Olive Chamber President

News-Argus/Bonnie Edwards

New Chamber President Gena Knode is shown at center with new board chairman Mike Rackley, left, and outgoing chairman Kim Bowers.

Ms. Knode has for many years served as the co-chairman of the, annual N.C. Pickle Festival, which is sponsored by the chamber.

The Mount Olive chamber has been without a president since early December when the board chose not to renew Kelley Castle's contract. Ms. Castle had been president since July when she replaced longtime president Patti O'Donoghue.

O'Donoghue and retiring Mount Olive Town Manager Ray McDonald were honored at the event as Chamber Champs for 2005. The award recognizes contributions made to the organization during the year. Both were praised for their work with the Pickle Festival.

"Ray McDonald has been a great supporter of the chamber and a major supporter of the pickle festival," Rackley said.

He also praised Ms. O'Donoghue for her energy and enthusiasm through the 12 years she was president. "She has helped grow our beloved pickle festival into what it is today. It is one of North Carolina's favorite festivals now."

Ms. O'Donoghue was a great employee, and now she's a wonderful volunteer, he said. "She's not going anywhere."

Also recognized for their work with the chamber were outgoing directors Kenny Moore, Debbie Jones, Kenny Talton and Julie Beck.

The chamber's volunteers spend a lot of time away from work, home and the family, Rackley said.

"It takes a lot of dedication and work when you volunteer for the chamber," he said.

The evening's keynote speaker, Earl Brinkley of AccuTrack Logistics, unveiled a proposal that would coordinate the ports at Morehead City and Wilmington as one and open the door to world markets to North Carolina.

"Seaports are critical to our economic health," he said. Morehead is only four miles from the open sea and has one of the deepest channels on the East Coast, Brinkley noted.

The two ports should compliment one another and could make use of three large inland terminals at Goldsboro, Selma and Pembroke, which would serve as distribution points for both trucks and trains, Brinkley said. Improved railroad service would be part of the economic strategy, he added.

Brinkley said North Carolina can compete with other states for the shipping business that could spark economic growth, especially in the eastern part of the state.

"We are in a battle for this extremely valuable cargo," he said. "We must put aside regional and personal issues to build a global perspective."