Safety prevails, banquet delayed

Jan. 28, 2014 @ 05:25 PM

Forecasts were bad. Safety was paramount.

The annual meeting and banquet of the Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce was postponed Tuesday. A decision was rendered about 1 p.m. for the event that was to feature presentation of the Citizen of the Year award and include Gov. Pat McCrory as the featured guest speaker.

“We are very disappointed that we had to postpone, but with the safety concerns, we didn’t want anyone out in any kind of weather that could put someone in danger,” said John Barnes, president of the chamber. “While we’re disappointed, we’re looking forward to having the banquet at a later date.

“And it should be pointed out, neither did the governor want to put anyone in unnecessary danger. The governor’s schedule gets booked months in advance, but we’re still hoping he can make it.”

Advance ticket sales set a record, selling out more than 500.

The change of plans was one of many across the Tri-County. Public and private schools released early on Tuesday, and Wednesday schedules were in doubt as The Dispatch went to press. (See hendersondispatch.com for information provided by varying entities.)

Vance-Granville Community College also went home early on Tuesday. District Court in Warren County for Wednesday was another postponement.

Barnes said the decision was tough but involved a process.

“Your first impression, is we’re going to have it,” Barnes said. “You’re optimistic and want to have a positive outlook. You’re hoping the weather will ultimately not be a factor.

“As of yesterday evening, it was becoming evident that the chance was greater we’d have to cancel more so than not. But we kept hoping conditions would change, but all of the weather models are indicating that it is going to be bad. Frankly, we hope those models are wrong. But it’s not worth taking a risk.”

Barnes praised the host site, Vance-Granville Community College, for working to accommodate any decision made.

“It really is a lot of in-depth discussion and conversation with some of our sponsors, Vance-Granville Community College, and they are closing and we have to be respective of what they’re going through,” Barnes said. “They would have kept the civic center open for us, but that would have created a hardship for them.

“We waited as long as we could until you reach that point of no return.”

The chamber is hopeful of a rescheduled date within the first half of February.

Contact the writer at awooten@hendersondispatch.com.