CHIPLEY — The Washington County Chamber of Commerce held its final “Third Thursday” breakfast of 2013 and took care of some organizational issues during the annual membership meeting.
President Nicole Barefield chaired the meeting and re-nominated board members Amy Wiwi, William Steverson and Wayland Fulford, whose terms on the Chamber Board of Directors are expiring, to serve new three-year terms. The board members were re-elected by acclamation to continue their service.
The board consists of Barefield, Wiwi, Steverson and Fulford, along with Pat Schlenker, Garrett Martin, Terry Ellis, Julie Dillard, Andrew Fleener, Darrin Wall, Jan Page, and Cindy Johnson Brown.
Fulford is replacing Past President Philip Pippin on the board, and Janet Kinney will replace Schlenker on the board after the first of the year.
Barefield also recognized the Chamber staff, including Executive Director Ted Everett and Administrative Assistant Chris MacBlain, and the Chamber Ambassadors.
“Congratulations to the board members, and thanks to the Northwest Florida Community Hospital staff, who provide us our meeting place and this great breakfast,” Everett said.
Board member Amy Wiwi announced the Chamber’s plans to hold its first annual Chili Cook-Off on Dec. 7 as part of the city’s Christmas Fest.
“We’re limiting entry to 10 entries, and we already have six,” Wiwi said. “If you have one of the best chili recipes in Washington County, then be sure to sign up.”
The cook-off will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Farmers Market Complex in downtown Chipley with chili judging beginning at 5:30 p.m.
During the November Chipley City Council meeting, Everett invited Mayor Linda Cain and the city council members to come serve as judges for the cook-off.
The public is invited to attend all of the Christmas Fest events.
The annual Christmas Parade will begin at 3:30 p.m. with line-up beginning at 2:30 p.m. at the old Chipley High School track. Photos with Santa will be available from 2 to 3 p.m. and from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the gazebo downtown.
At 5:30 p.m. there will be a reading of the Cajun “The Night Before Christmas” by Kermit Soileau.
The Spanish Trail Playhouse will also stage their program, “A Classic Chipley Christmas,” at 7 p.m. at the historic Chipley High School auditorium, on Dec. 7.
There will also be carriage and pony rides, food and drinks and the Washington County Historical Museum will be holding an Open House as part of the Christmas festivities.
The program’s topic was Affordable Care Act: Key Small Business Provisions, and it was presented by Donna Padgug, a business development specialist with the U.S. Small Business Administration North Florida District Office.
“Businesses that have fewer than 25 full-time employees and that pay average annual wages below $50,000 and contribute 50 percent or more toward employees’ self-only health insurance premiums may qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 35 percent,” Padgug said. “In 2014 this credit goes up to 50 percent.”
Another change will be the requirement that aggregate annual health care costs be reported on the W-2. However, the W-2 reporting requirement does not apply to employers required to file fewer than 250 Form W-2s in the previous calendar year.
“The employee does not have to pay tax on this amount, it is just for informational purposes.”
Padgug said employees of small businesses will have insurance options in January 2014, with open enrollment now ongoing, through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), which will provide a broader-based insurance pool for small businesses to participate in.
The SHOP program will offer small businesses increased purchasing power to obtain a better choice of high-quality coverage at a lower cost.
The SHOP program will also pool risks for small groups and reduce administrative complexity, reducing costs. In 2016, employers with up to 100 employees will be able to participate.
“The more people you have in your pool, the better it is for everyone and it lowers the risk and ultimately it lowers premium costs,” she said.