Gentry Chamber presents awards at annual banquet
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.