The Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce made an excellent choice selecting the annual Woman of the Year and Man of the Year – Betty Ryberg and Lionel “Smitty” Smith.

Both have made lasting contributions to the community – contributions that have greatly improved the unique quality of life in Aiken.

Ryberg could be content with being known as the wife of former state Sen. Greg Ryberg. But this dynamo of woman with as much charisma as any movie star, can take a project and elevate it such prominence it takes on a life of it’s own.

Her latest venture, Dancing with the Aiken Stars fundraiser event, has grown by leaps and bounds in just three years - the latest earning more than $100,000 for local charities. This event has many supporters and an army of volunteers, but don’t let anyone fool you – Ryberg is the heart and soul, the ignition, the juice that makes it happen.

Part of Aiken’s charm is the quaint, yet genteel style of the downtown and historic districts. Much of that tone is has been set by Smith, who opened Lionel Smith, Ltd., 38 years ago.

His quiet demeanor and continued commitment to bringing some of the world’s finest men’s clothing to customers throughout the area, has been a catalyst to attracting the quaint shops and restaurants we have come to enjoy. Smith also has been involved in the community a variety of ways. He has served on the Council of Aging board, Aiken Community Hospital board, Aiken Chamber board, Sunrise Rotary as president, United Way Campaign, the Aiken 20/20 Vision for the Future Campaign, USC Aiken Giving Campaign and more.

The chamber also selected Shaw AREVA MOX Services as its Large Business of the Years for its generosity in the community through donating to various nonprofit organizations as well as having a significant impact on the local economy.

Wayne’s Automotive and Towing Center was named Small Business of the Year because it has offered a variety of quality services to the Aiken community for more than 25 years.

Congratulations to all the winners.

We appreciate your contributions to making Aiken such a wonderful place to live.