The Paris Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated 2017 by passing out 10 awards at its annual awards banquet held last Saturday night at The Lodge at Mount Magazine State Park.
The ceremony attracted a packed house, the event having sold out weeks ahead of time.
In addition to the awards, the audience heard Paris Mayor Daniel Rogers give his State of the City speech and listened to a speech from Walt Coleman of Little Rock.
Coleman has officiated in the NFL since the 1989 season. Coleman is a sixth-generation family operator of Hiland Dairy. Outside of officiating, Coleman serves on many local boards and associations including the Little Rock Boys and Girls Club and Greater Little Rock YMCA. Coleman is a former president of the Arkansas Dairy Products Association and Major Sports Association of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Coleman told the audience that people involved in chambers of commerce are “hard working, dedicated people who are trying to do what’s best for their communities” and urged listeners to get involved in their communities.
After his speech, the awards were handed out. Here are the winners and some of what was said about them by the presenters of the awards:
Farm Family of the Year: Corey and Jessica Hamilton, owners of J and P Farms and Rainbow Stone. Presenter Bryan Binz told the audience that Corey and Jessica both took over family businesses due to unforeseen circumstances.
“Corey Hamilton took over Rainbow Stone when his father Carrol passed away in 2009. Rainbow Stone now ships field stone and cut rock all over the United States. He has built a new office building, has four quarries in Logan County and has taken advantage of technology like social media, to grow his client base. Jessica Hamilton took over Willems Farms when her father Abe passed away in 2003. Jessica was only 21, still in college, and entering primarily an all-male business. Jessica lived up to the challenge and has surprised many of her counterparts over the years.”
Educator of the Year: Wes Davis, teacher and volleyball coach for the Paris School District. Davis has coached the Paris High School Lady Eagles to three straight state championships. Presenter Wayne Fawcett, Paris school superintendent, said “There is a saying in education. They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Wes Davis cares for all students.”
Youth of the Year: Kaylor Braswell of Paris High School. Presenter Mike Nichols, principal of Paris High School, called Braswell a “student who steps up and always volunteers. She is always willing to do what it takes.” He also called her an example of a “servant leader.”
Large Business of the Year: Master Maid Inc. of Carbon City, which is owned by Johnny and Judy Culver. The award was accepted by their daughter, Kristi Culver Pfeiffer. The company has 48 employees at five locations in three counties.
Small Business of the Year: Warrens Shoes, owned by John Warren, Kim Warren Trusty and John Kieth Warren. The award was accepted by Kim Warren Trusty. The business was established in Paris in 1949 and has expanded throughout the state. The company's headquarters is in Paris.
Volunteer of the Year: Kathy Nehus. She volunteered to become a Cub Master for Pack 41 of the Cub Scouts in Paris in 2014. At the time, there were only 17 members. Now, according to presenter Tom Johns, the group serves over 70 families, “more than a 300 percent increase within a short period of time.”
Chamber Member of the Year: Karey Sparks. Presenter Tonya Baumgartner, executive director of the chamber, said Sparks, “truly does help the chamber and community in so many ways.” Sparks has served on the PACC Board of Directors, is a past-president of the PACC board and is also active in the community.
Tourism Person of the Year: Bob Cowie, owner of Cowie Winery and the Arkansas Historic Wine Museum. Cowie’s winery in Carbon City is one of the leading wineries in the state. Cowie has produced numerous award-winning wines and hosted a wine festival for years. He is also a collector of large bells and has plans to display them on property near his winery in Carbon City. The winery and museum is one of the top tourist attractions in the area.
Vic Bockstader Humanitarian of the Year: Jim Richardson. Richardson served as Logan County Juvenile Intake Officer for 22 years after retiring from the U.S. Army. He was instrumental in establishing the Court Appointed Special Advocates program in Logan County. Since retirement, Richardson has volunteered and raised money for CASA.
Law Enforcement Officer of the Year: Ricky L. Lowe. Lowe, who died late last year, served various law enforcement agencies working in the county for 45 years. In presenting the award to Lowe’s family, Sheriff Boyd Hicks announced that the training center inside the new Logan County Jail, will be named after Lowe. The family was presented with a proclamation from the Logan County Quorum Court and State Rep. Jon Eubanks read a proclamation honoring Lowe from the Arkansas House of Representatives.