By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
The Grayson Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas dinner and Community Awards have long been a forum for recognizing contributions to the city’s economic and cultural ecosystem.
That trend continued last Thursday with the Chamber’s 43rd Annual Community Service Awards Banquet honoring business and community leaders from around the city for their work.
Dustin Howard was recognized as entrepreneur of the year for his work in revitalizing abandoned properties around the city, while Shadow Skaggs, of FirstLight Home Healthcare, and Michelle Wilhoit, of Wilhoit State Farm Insurance, were recognized as Businesspersons of the Year. Wilhoit was singled out during the awards presentation for her meteoric rise in the State Farm organization since opening her office last year after a career spent in banking.
The Chamber Awards aren’t just about business, though. They’re also about recognizing those who help organize and support community events, and exemplify the qualities of community service.
The Keystone of Grayson Award, recognizing those who are instrumental in making community events happen, was awarded to Don Combs and Frank Rice, while the Deborah Meenach-Combs Community Spark Plug Award was presented to Marianne Johnson. Community service isn’t always about an individual either. Sometimes it’s about an entire group. This year that was the case, with the Grayson Volunteer Fire Department receiving the S.U. Pratt Community Service Award.
The awards are also about inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs and community leaders, and they do that with two different awards – one to recognize that next generation and one to recognize the folks who help expand their horizons.
Cason Adams represents the former, earning the Dr. Rodney T. Gross Youth Leadership Award for his work in the community, while Logan Skidmore embodies the latter. Skidmore was recognized as the Deanna McDavid Educator of the Year award recipient for his work as a music educator and band director of East Carter High School.
The future, of course, is built upon the past, and recognizing the contributions of those who have come before is an important part of that growth.
Those recognized during the R.E. Applegate Memorial presentation this year included Johnny Bush, Lily Mae Caudill, Harold Dyer, Norman Felty, Ruth Haney, Helen Johnson, Joe Kitchen, Jim Phillips, Mike Phillips, Hazel Shufflebarger, Gerald Stamper, and Henry Wilhoit Jr.
Following the awards presentation, a live auction, conducted by auctioneer Cavel Bush, helped raise more than $3,000 for Project Merry Christmas. With another $1,858 raised through a silent auction, the total contributed to Project Merry Christmas came to just shy of $5,000.
Project Merry Christmas helps provide Christmas gifts to needy families across the county. Those interested in supporting Project Merry Christmas this holiday season, or any time, can find more information from the organization’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CarterCountyProjectMerryChristmas.
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