LAKE WYLIE -- In what Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce President Susan Bromfield calls "the year of food and beverage," it makes sense to honor two men who serve them well.
Al Powell, co-owner of The River Rat, and Vince Mugavero, owner of Lake Wylie Liquor, left the River Hills Country Club Thursday night as 2008 Business Person and Citizen of the Year, respectively.
"You all keep coming to see us and we'll keep being here," Powell said. "All I can say is thank you."
Powell is known for the quality restaurant he runs, as well as for being one of the longest-serving business owners in the area. The River Rat turns 30 next year.
"It's one of the original businesses here that's been owned by the same family all these years," Bromfield said.
Debra Andres, who presented Powell with his award Thursday, credits Powell's "people skills" as much as his business sense in creating a fixture at the Three Points intersection.
"He is a fixture in the community and is affectionately known as 'Mr. Lake Wylie,'" Andres said. "He is the go-to guy if you want to know what is happening in the area, and he is a humble man."
Along with being a founding chamber member, Powell's restaurant played host to all of the chamber events in the early days. The annual banquet held Thursday night was first held there almost 30 years ago.
Still, though, the award caught Powell off guard.
"I thought I was here for my brother-in-law," he said.
Mugavero purchased a liquor store in Lake Wylie more than a decade ago, but his recognition Thursday came from the many charitable causes he supports, including Hospice & Community Care, Kenya Orphanage Project, China Hurricane Relief Fund, the Lake Wylie Fireworks Fund and the chamber.
"Kind of an unsung hero that never wants recognition, he's always supporting all kinds of charities and always giving to people who need it," Bromfield said. "He helps so many individual causes without people ever knowing."
Another recent cause for Mugavero was the Nov. 4 vote for Sunday alcohol sales in York County, which passed by more than 60 percent.
"He was very instrumental in the Sunday sales referendum and worked behind the scenes sharing his knowledge and skills on how to get the bill passed," Andres said in presenting Mugavero his award.
Mugavero, also surprised with his recognition, said his spirit of giving comes in large part from a community that does the same.
"The people in this community have afforded me a lifestyle I would not be able to have without them," he said. "When that happens, I feel like I have a responsibility to give back."
Also highlighting the evening Thursday night were a presentation to Andres of Wachovia for eight years of chamber board service and the recognition of newly appointed board members.
Susan Bromfield, president
Charles Wood, chairman, Anchor Self Storage
Don Long, 1st vice chairman, P&D Inspections
Fred Wetherell, 2nd vice chairman, Sterling Source Inc.
Joan Brom, secretary, PHP Locker Co.
Michaelyn Sherrill, treasurer, Plantation Home Realty
Ed Stewart, past chairman, M.L. Ford & Sons
Myron Boloyan, Esq., Haselden, Owen & Boloyan
Fred Caldwell, Fred Caldwell's Chevrolet
Allan Gregory, Edward Jones
Diana Grubenhoff, Long Cove Marina
Andy Kane, Camp Thunderbird
David Mathein, T-Bones on the Lake
Paige McCarter, Clover Community Bank
Fred Nason, Watson Insurance
Mike Short, Allstate Insurance
Sandee Wilkerson, First Properties of the Carolinas