From staff reports
The 57th annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet was held on Thursday, March 6 at Lake Tia O’Kata. The 2014 Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce/Main Street Mike Dowd welcomed everyone and an invocation was led by Dr. Mark Donald.
Mike Skipper, Winston County’s Mississippi State University Extension Agent, presented the Forestry award to Dr. Lamar Kimbrough. Dr. Kimbrough owns about 220 acres on which he helps to continue educating others about forestry.
Mike Skipper also presented the Farmer of Year award to Mrs. Jean Harper. “Though she is not applicably engaged in farming,” Skipper said, “She looks at how we can educate others on healthy living and growing. She has been instrumental in helping dozens of youth participate in learning how to farm and raise a garden.”
The Retailer of the year award was presented by Will and Sarah Hill from 107.1 WLSM. The award was presented to Woody’s of Noxapater. Will said that Woody’s had only been closed for 4 hours since 1993. The reason for the four hour closing was because of hurricane Katrina. He noted this illustrated the commitment of Woody’s to the community. Will also stated that Woody’s had been named 2nd in the state for the best fried chicken.
Gerald Mills of WCEDD Partnership presented the Industry of the Year award to Polo Custom Products. Polo Custom Products had the greatest number of new hires and the greatest percentage increase. Greg Brown, manager of Polo, accepted the award.
The Service award was presented to Corner Stone Clinic by Tracy and William McCully from McCully and Associates. Corner Stone clinic is a non profit, volunteer led clinic that provides medical needs for individuals who do not have Medicaid, Medicare, or any other type health insurance. Dr. Dewitt Crawford and Jerry Nance accepted the award.
Superintendent Ken McMullan presented Teacher of the Year award to Jennifer Vowell. McMullan stated that Vowell stood out among 200 teachers in the district. He noted that Vowell’s passion for teaching children and her relentless efforts to help children learn to read were very admirable.
The Woman of the year was presented to Susan Ard and Linda Skelton by Tara Woodward, Pilot Club President. Tara stated that Ard continues to keep Louisville looking beautiful with her countless hours of volunteer work in the community. Woodward outlined Skelton’s years of dedication to promoting Winston County and encouraging and working with everyone to make Winston County better.
Joseph McCain, publisher of the Winston County Journal, presented the Man of the Year award to Robert Higginbotham. Higginbotham’s volunteer work in the community as well as his work with the National Wild Turkey Federation earned him the man of the year award. Higginbotham has been instrumental in the NWTF new initiative “Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.” He has lead youth hunting events in the area as well as volunteered each year as part of the BATTLE Luncheon.
The Lifetime Achievement award was presented to Dr. Mark Donald DMD by Senator Giles Ward. Senator Ward stated that “Dr. Donald was a Christian that truly walks the walk.” Dr. Donald has served Winston County as an elected official and as a volunteer in many organizations. He has represented the MS Dental Association both on the state level and on the national levels as well. He is also an active member of the North MS Emmaus and Chrysalis communities. He helped initiate a Mission of Mercies denistry program in the state of Mississippi which has helped thousands of Mississippians with dental care.
The banquet also honored Martha Mills as she retired from the WCED Partnership after 10 years.
Senator Ward introduced the key speaker for the evening who was Lt. Governor Tate Reeves. The Lt. Governor emphasized the continued improvements being made to education all over the state. He also stated that job creation was number 1 on the agenda for this year. The Lt. Governor ended stating that he “couldn’t imagine living anywhere, but Mississippi.”