By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
There is never any one person who makes a community’s events come together. It’s always a group of people, working together, many of them behind the scenes.
The Olive Hill Chamber of Commerce used their annual Christmas Awards dinner to say thanks to those folks, both those in the spotlight and behind the scenes, who work to make the Olive Hill area a better place to live, work, and visit.
The chamber started their evening of recognition by honoring the next generation of volunteers, awarding the Youth Empowerment Award to the West Carter Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), and their sponsor Martha Henderson, family and consumer sciences teacher at West Carter High School.
The second award of the night didn’t go to youth volunteers, but to a volunteer group working to help create recreational opportunities for youth and families. The Moving Forward Award was awarded to the Olive Hill Trail Town organization for their work in various areas, but especially their recent work at the town lake. Chamber president Lisa Messer Conley highlighted their contributions there, include trail improvements and plans to create handicap accessible fishing piers, among other improvements to the project they’ve named the Firebrick Family Park at the newly christened Firebrick Lake.
The Carter County Shrine Club was recognized with the Shooting Star Award for their various contributions to events and activities in the county – including the horse show and bluegrass festival, among others.
The Community Spirit Award went to Mark Strother’s team at the Commercial Bank of Grayson. Conley noted that Commercial Bank helps out with a variety of programs and events, in both Olive Hill and Grayson, and not just with money but with volunteers to do the work. That, she noted, is something that is always sorely needed.
The Award of Excellence was awarded to Scenic Hills Realty, who were not present to accept the award. Conley, however, noted the work J.D. and Debbie Rayburn put in, from cleaning to watering flowers to providing meals for the chamber meetings, as some of the reasons for their recognition.
The Olive Hill Strong Award went to another organization providing opportunities for youth in the community. While the Galaxy Project, under the leadership of director Chelsa Hamilton, works in the schools to offer enrichment, and both educational and extracurricular opportunities for students, their newest program seeks to tackle a very serious problem in the region – drugs abuse. Their new Pathfinder Initiative, undertaken with the cooperation of the Warrior’s Path project and the support of Trail Town, among other groups and individuals, gives children outdoor activities they can say “yes” to, instead of simply asking them to say “no” to drugs without any positive motivation to do so.
The volunteer of the year award went to an individual involved with Trail Town, the Galaxy Project’s Pathfinder Initiative, and many other projects and programs. Conley said while this recipient teased he was known more for beginning projects than finishing them, she couldn’t overstate the impact he has had on Olive Hill’s promotion and growth before presenting the award to Max Hammond.
The final award was presented to Tom Wolfe, and the Olive Hill McDonald’s, for Chamber Member of the Year. Conley said Wolfe’s interest and investment in the community went far beyond his restaurant, noting their support of various Chamber and community events.
The Chamber also swore in new officers, with Crystal Branham taking the oath as new President of the Chamber, Alisa Messer as the new VP, and Jeremy Wells the new Secretary.
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