Lifelong CSRA residents Jim and Carolyn Baggott have spent their fair share of evenings in the North Augusta Community Center over the years, but Thursday’s atmosphere was a little different, as they were recognized there as the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce Citizens of the Year.

Ray Fleming, who shared last year’s honor with his wife, Lyn, made the announcement at the Chamber’s annual meeting. He announced Jim first, and then “noticed” a second page of material to read to the assembly, which included Carolyn as the co-honoree.

He introduced them as “Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus” – an apparent acknowledgment of their consistent, prominent roles in North Augusta’s annual Christmas parade and tree-lighting celebration.

“Talk about a shock,” Carolyn said, with a laugh. “I knew this was coming, but I certainly had no idea it was a dual honor, and I am so honored, and I love North Augusta.”

She acknowledged having known that her husband was going to receive the award, but was kept in the dark that she, too, was to be honored.

Her husband, fighting back tears, noted that he and his wife are frequently asked about why they continue, year after year, such a high level of civic involvement. Part of the answer is the Baggotts’ family, he indicated, pointing to their children and grandchildren in the crowd.

“We have to do our best, because one of the little fellows over there has got my name ... and the rest of them have my last name,” he said.

Carolyn added, “I’ve got one over there with my maiden name and his middle name, so they carried it on.”

Jim’s roles include having served on the Aiken County Planning and Zoning Commission for 18 years, as well as having served for two terms on the Aiken County Council and 21 years as a state constable.

A note from the Chamber pointed out, “He spent countless hours with the North Augusta Jaycees, where he was president in 1971,” and also noted that the Baggotts have both been active for 20 years in activities at Living History Park as colonial re-enactors.

Carolyn Baggott is a North Augusta City Council member, having been first elected in 1991 and re-elected ever since.

She is a charter member of the Old Towne Preservation Association and was heavily involved in the development of the Living History Park.

The evening’s honors also included Ambassador of the Year, recognizing an outstanding representative of the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce. Honored this year was Brett Turner, who has served on the organization’s board of directors since 2008 and works for Rhodes Financial Services.

Turner’s roles include membership in the North Augusta Rotary Club and the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.

The keynote speaker was Rick Grandinetti, who emphasized the need to “serve best,” in terms of reaching out to customers of the present and future.

“To serve is to rule,” he said. “You watch your thoughts – they’ll turn into words. You watch your words – they’ll turn into actions. You watch your actions – they’ll turn into character. Watch your character turn into habits. Watch your habits – they’ll become your destiny.”

Concluding his remarks, he said, “I’m not going to wish this group good luck. I’m going to wish you nothing but continued success.”