Gen­try Cham­ber presents awards at an­nual ban­quet

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GEN­TRY — Af­ter a meal pre­pared by the Wooden Spoon staff, with turkey do­nated by Cargill, awards were distributed to lo­cal in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses by the Gen­try Cham­ber of Com­merce at its an­nual awards ban­quet on Thurs­day.

Ben­ton County judge Barry Moehring was the guest speaker at the event. He spoke about the eco­nomic growth which has come to Ben­ton County and of the ben­e­fits which the new Sim­mons plant will bring to Gen­try, Decatur and Gravette be­cause of taxes from the fa­cil­ity and the jobs it will bring to the area. He said he strongly sup­ports the new fa­cil­ity which is be­ing built along Arkansas High­way 59 near Y-City Road.

Awards were then pre­sented by Gen­try Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Tammie Run­yan with Janie Parks, Cham­ber ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, read­ing the fol­low­ing re­gard­ing the rea­sons for each award pre­sented.

Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the Year: TOPS AR Chap­ter #113

The Gen­try TOPS group was or­ga­nized on May 11, 1970. This group of women has been meet­ing each Mon­day af­ter­noon at 2:30 for 48 years at the Chris­tian Church. This group is a sup­port group to en­cour­age oth­ers in their weight loss jour­ney. They have nu­tri­tional pro­grams and con­tests to help each reach goals. The mem­bers also do com­mu­nity ser­vice projects such as fill­ing school back­packs. They also pro­vide emer­gency cloth­ing for lo­cal schools and the chil­dren’s shel­ter. TOPS’ mis­sion is to sup­port their mem­bers as they take off and keep off pounds sen­si­bly. And they have been do­ing that for 48 years. The award was re­ceived by Carol Hog­gatt and Ge­or­gia Reed.

Cit­i­zen of the Year Clay Ste­wart

Clay is a sergeant in the Gen­try Po­lice Depart­ment and is sec­ond in com­mand. Chief Keith Smith said that Clay started with the Gen­try PD in 2001 and quickly rose through the ranks. He has given a lot to the depart­ment and goes far and above for our city ev­ery day. Clay’s ded­i­ca­tion doesn’t stop with the Gen­try Po­lice Depart­ment and the city of Gen­try. Clay has been a ded­i­cated vol­un­teer coach for our youth since 1997. He vol­un­teer-coached soft­ball at the Gen­try High School from 2011-2014 and is now the head coach of the Texas Glory NWA04 girls soft­ball team. This team was formed in 2014 and was called Gen­try Pride. This group of young ladies has trav­eled all over the coun­try rep­re­sent­ing Gen­try and win­ning many national ti­tles with Clay as their vol­un­teer coach. Clay and his wife Va­lerie travel many miles and spent many nights sleep­ing in the camper while coach­ing and sup­port­ing these girls. They sac­ri­ficed va­ca­tions, per­sonal time, money and fam­ily time to coach and travel with the team. What is so spe­cial about Clay is the in­cred­i­ble work ethic and at­ti­tude he ex­pects and re­ceives from the young ladies he works with. This work ethic he de­mands is what has put his team on the top at many of these com­pe­ti­tions. Even if the girls lost a game, which didn’t hap­pen of­ten, his girls al­ways showed re­spect and rep­re­sented Gen­try in a very honor­able way. This is a sign of a qual­ity in­di­vid­ual and a great coach.

Vol­un­teer of the Year: Angie Taylor

Some­times in life, there are prob­lems wait­ing for an an­swer. That’s what hap­pened in Gen­try about one year ago. Some peo­ple in Gen­try and the sur­round­ing area are faced with food in­se­cu­rity. One in four chil­dren in Arkansas go to bed hun­gry. A prob­lem look­ing for a so­lu­tion. That’s when Angie Taylor and the GFA Pantry came to the res­cue. Angie has been the di­rec­tor of the Food Pantry since its in­cep­tion nine months ago. Angie works with a great team of vol­un­teers to meet the food needs of many peo­ple. In the nine months that the pantry has been open, it has pre­pared and distributed food boxes to more than 5,000 peo­ple. Over 700 house­holds have been served by the GFA Food Pantry so far. Through Angie’s su­per­vi­sion, hard work and ded­i­ca­tion, many chil­dren that may have gone to bed hun­gry have healthy fresh food. Many fam­i­lies get the help they need to make it to the next pay­check. Angie greets ev­ery per­son com­ing to the pantry with dig­nity, re­spect and a smile. For a lot of peo­ple down on their luck and hurt­ing, that might be the first smile they’ve seen in a while. Angie is truly a bright spot in the lives of the 700 house­holds she cur­rently serves.

Young Busi­ness Per­son of the Year: Erin Shawver — Marcy’s Dog Groom­ing and Board­ing

Erin goes above and be­yond when car­ing for her clients and the city of Gen­try. She takes a per­sonal in­ter­est in the an­i­mals that come in the door. She even took all the an­i­mals she was board­ing to her home once to pro­tect them from ris­ing flood­wa­ters. Erin and her em­ploy­ees help lost an­i­mals find their own­ers. They also help stray an­i­mals find their for­ever homes us­ing her own re­sources, board­ing and food un­til the ap­pro­pri­ate so­lu­tion for the home­less an­i­mal can be found. Erin and her em­ploy­ees are kind and go above and be­yond for their furry friends and own­ers. The an­i­mals are treated as true fur ba­bies should be treated. Erin pro­vides her em­ploy­ees with nec­es­sary ed­u­ca­tion, in­clud­ing an­i­mal CPR, and keeps them up to date with new groom­ing tech­niques. Erin op­er­ates a car­ing and hon­est busi­ness which is a great place to take your an­i­mal.

Busi­ness of the Year: Grand Sav­ings Bank — Gen­try

Grand Sav­ings Bank opened its doors in 1981 with a rock-solid foun­da­tion of hon­esty, trust and cus­tomer ser­vice that is alive and well today. The bank is truly a com­mu­nity bank and is heav­ily in­volved in the com­mu­ni­ties in which it serves. Mered­ith Ren­fro and An­drea Tun run the Gen­try branch as vice pres­i­dent and branch man­ager, as well as be­ing loan of­fi­cers. They and the rest of the staff are proud of a re­cent re­model for the Gen­try lo­ca­tion which will have a grand re­open­ing later this spring. Grand Sav­ings em­ploy­ees serve on many lo­cal com­mit­tees, in­clud­ing Gen­try Cham­ber of Com­merce, Par­ent Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee for the Gen­try Pub­lic Schools, Gen­try In­ter­me­di­ate PTO, Gen­try Lions Club and the Gen­try United Way. Last year alone, Grand Sav­ings Bank spon­sored and par­tic­i­pated in many events, in­clud­ing the Gen­try Easter Egg Hunt, Free­dom Fest, Ben­ton County Fair live­stock auc­tion, Trick or Treat on Main Street and the Christ­mas pa­rade. Grand Sav­ings Bank proudly spon­sors other or­ga­ni­za­tions in our com­mu­nity. Gen­try High School foot­ball, base­ball and wrestling teams, the Gen­try High School choir and band, Project Prom, Ok­la­homa and Arkansas Honor Flight and Gen­try Youth Or­ga­ni­za­tion, among many oth­ers. Grand Sav­ings Bank is a great busi­ness part­ner to the Gen­try Cham­ber of Com­merce and we are pleased to present their em­ploy­ees with Busi­ness of the Year.

Life­time Achieve­ment Award Ervin Cripps

Ervin was born in 1933 and at­tended Gen­try High School, grad­u­at­ing in 1951. He served in the U.S. Army for two years. He at­tended the West­ern School of Auc­tion­eer­ing in Billings, Mont. Af­ter com­plet­ing school, Ervin op­er­ated an auc­tion ser­vice here in Gen­try for more than 30 years. Be­sides be­ing a well-known auc­tion­eer in our area, he also vol­un­teered to pro­mote and pro­vide auc­tion­eer­ing ser­vices for the 4-H steer sale at the Ben­ton County Fair for many years.

Ervin and his wife Nancy op­er­ated a Grade A dairy and raised beef cat­tle on their farm west of Gen­try. In 1979, they were named Ben­ton County Farm Fam­ily of the Year. Ervin was a mem­ber of the First Bap­tist Church in Gen­try where he served as a dea­con for 23 years.

Ervin and Nancy owned and op­er­ated a Tufco Floor­ing fran­chise for sev­eral years in Gen­try that is still be­ing run by his son.

Ervin served on the school board of the Gen­try Pub­lic Schools for 20 years. Ervin loved Gen­try and was al­ways in­volved with the school and the Gen­try Pi­o­neers. He spent many hours watch­ing ball­games and sup­port­ing his kids. When Ervin saw a need in the Gen­try com­mu­nity, he was al­ways there to help. He was well known for his hon­esty and in­tegrity.

Ervin al­ways loved horses and usu­ally had sev­eral on the farm. Nancy told me he bought a pair of Bel­gian draft horses be­cause he wanted to show his grand­chil­dren how the fields used to be plowed and planted in the early days. Lo­cal 4-H kids would come out to watch, as would many in­di­vid­u­als.

Ervin and Nancy have four chil­dren, Diane, Gary, El­don and Coye, who are all here tonight. Ervin was a great friend to many … He died at age 58 do­ing what he loved, driv­ing a horse and a buggy. Ac­cept­ing tonight is Ervin’s widow, Nancy Cripps Stan­fill.

West­side Ea­gle Ob­server/RANDY MOLL

Clay Ste­wart re­ceived the Cit­i­zen of the Year award at the Gen­try Cham­ber of Com­merce Ban­quet on Thurs­day for his work in coach­ing girls soft­ball. Pic­tured with Ste­wart are his wife, Valarie Ste­wart, and mem­bers of the Texas Glory NWA ’04 soft­ball team (for­merly Gen­try Pride) he coaches. Play­ers in­clude Shanie Bar­bee (row two, left), Afton Fin­nell, Mazzi Jones, Mat­ti­son Hamil­ton, Kyleigh Ger­mann, Madi Voyles (back, left), Kelsie McCratic, Mor­gan Wright, Kyleigh Wheaton, Malea Wil­son, Paige Greer and Rea­gan Myrick (not pic­tured).

West­side Ea­gle Ob­server/RANDY MOLL

An­drea Tun and Mered­ith Ren­fro re­ceived the Busi­ness of the Year Award for Grand Sav­ings Bank from Cham­ber pres­i­dent Tammie Run­yan at the Gen­try Cham­ber of Com­merce Awards Ban­quet.

West­side Ea­gle Ob­server/RANDY MOLL

The lo­cal TOPS chap­ter re­ceived the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the Year Award from Cham­ber pres­i­dent Tammie Run­yan. The award was re­ceived by Ge­or­gia Reed (left) and Carol Hog­gatt.

West­side Ea­gle Ob­server/RANDY MOLL

Erin Shawver, owner of Marcy’s Dog Groom­ing and Board­ing in Gen­try, re­ceived the Young Busi­ness Per­son of the Year Award from Cham­ber pres­i­dent Tammie Run­yan at the Gen­try Cham­ber of Com­merce Awards Ban­quet.

West­side Ea­gle Ob­server/RANDY MOLL

Nancy Cripps re­ceived the Life­time Achieve­ment Award for her late hus­band, Irvin Cripps, from Cham­ber pres­i­dent Tammie Run­yan on Thurs­day at the Gen­try Cham­ber of Com­merce Awards Ban­quet.

West­side Ea­gle Ob­server/RANDY MOLL

Angie Taylor re­ceived the Vol­un­teer of the Year Award for her work in the GFA Food Pantry on Thurs­day at the Gen­try Cham­ber of Com­merce Awards Ban­quet.

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