September 12, 2012

Chamber selects Ralph Buxton as Outer Banks Citizen of the Year

The Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce invites members and the community to its annual meeting and awards dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Ramada Plaza in Kill Devil Hills.  PNC Bank is the corporate sponsor of this event.

The annual meeting coincides with the leadership change at the chamber and honors the retiring members of the board of directors, chamber ambassadors, and the 2012 Outer Banks Citizen of the Year.  The event also celebrates the exchange of the gavel between chamber board chairs, and this year, the chamber welcomes a new Chamber President and CEO.

Cost to attend the dinner $25 per person, which includes buffet and non-alcoholic beverage. A cash bar will be available.

The 2012 Outer Banks Citizen of the Year is Ralph Buxton. 

Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Ralph Buxton first experienced the Outer Banks in 1972 on a weekend visit.  The sight of Jockey’s Ridge caused him to pull over to the side of the road and climb to the top for an exhilarating panoramic view. 

A year later he returned with friend John Harris to try a very new sport -- hang gliding -- on Jockey’s Ridge.  The experience of hang gliding within view of the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the birthplace of flight, combined with the unspoiled beauty of the Outer Banks, became a turning point in his life. 

In 1977, Ralph moved to the Outer Banks to immerse himself in a fledgling Kitty Hawk Kites business and an undeveloped Outer Banks with lots of sport opportunities.  

Giving back to the community has always been a mission for Buxton.  He has served a total of 10 years on the Chamber of Commerce board of directors including a term as president in 1981.  Also, he has served the Manteo Rotary Club – president, 1991; Outer Banks Community Foundation – president, 1992; Outer Banks YMCA – founding chairman, 1998;  and Dare County Tourism Board – chairman, 2012. 

He has also participated on numerous community and government committees, including Outer Banks Seafood Festival, Dare County Comprehensive Transportation Plan, Outer Banks Transportation Taskforce, Outer Banks Pathways, Nags Head Woods, Town of Nags Head Recreation Committee, and Albemarle Pamlico Estuarine Study. 

Buxton is married to the former Donna Marie Shumate, and they have three grown children: Charles, Elizabeth, and Samuel.   Ralph and Donna are members of Kitty Hawk United Methodist Church.  

Since the chamber’s fiscal year is Oct. 1 – Sept. 30, the annual meeting also reflects the leadership change of the board of directors. Retiring board members are recognized and new ones announced.  Board officers are introduced and the leadership gavel exchanged.

Robin Mann of Mann Custom Boats in Manns Harbor has served almost two terms as Chair of the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, completing the term of Chair Van Smith, who relocated in 2010. 

Under her leadership, the chamber has focused on its value to membership by completely renovating its website, initiated the Outer Banks Seafood Festival, worked through issues related to Hurricane Irene and taken positions on a number of area issues, including the Oregon Inlet and Mid-Currituck County bridges, state budget items, fishing issues, and beach access. 

She has also worked through committees to expand the marketing of the chamber, increased its presence on social media sites, and improved partnerships with other area business organizations.  A new Hatteras/Ocracoke Island Council is working to more effectively address the concerns of businesses in the southern areas of Dare County.

“The Chamber is blessed with many good leaders who volunteer so much of their time for the betterment of the Outer Banks business community.  This occasion is our opportunity to publically acknowledge their contributions and thank them for their leadership.  At this event we will celebrate our many past accomplishments and then look forward to a bright future both for our community and the Chamber,” said Mann.  “We will review the highlights of our programming and services, thank our many volunteers and sponsors for their involvement, and then focus on future goals and how we will reach them.”

The Outer Banks Chamber annual meeting and awards dinner is open to the public with reservations requested.  $25 includes a buffet dinner of chicken Marsala, stuffed flounder, rice pilaf, pasta, salad, vegetable, rolls, and non-alcoholic beverage.  For more information or to reserve your space, call (252)441-8144 or visit www.outerbankschamber.com .

“The Chamber is not one individual or business, but a collaborative group of more than 1,000 business members,” said 2012-2013 Board Chair Ali Breaux who will accept the gavel at the meeting.  “We are the voice of all types of business and our organization works best when we share a vision and then work together to accomplish goals we set for our community.  I hope members will come out and celebrate this very special night with us.”

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