Chamber honors Malvern educator, more at banquet
MALVERN — The annual Malvern/Hot Spring County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet on Jan. 24 once again drew a good crowd to the Malvern Community Center. Folks came to enjoy a good meal, hear a guest speaker and find out who had won awards.
“The banquet went very well,” said Lance Howell, chamber executive director. “Attendance was great, as always. It’s really neat to recognize people and businesses in our community for what they do. All chambers are different, but for us, our large driving forces are awards and community recognition.
“Danny Games, director of business and economic development for Entergy Arkansas, was our guest speaker,” Howell said. “He referenced the AP&L (Arkansas Power and Light Co., now known as Entergy) history to Hot Spring County, which was a nice touch. He also talked about things to be careful of in your business. He did a great job. We had lots of feedback, which was good for us to hear.”
Howell said Malvern and Hot Spring County had a lot of new businesses in 2018.
“The biggest announcement we had came in the summer of last year, when Veranda Luxury Pontoons announced they had
bought the old General Cable factory at Jones Mill and would be moving their entire operation there,” Howell said.
“Veranda is a sister company to Xpress Boats (based in Hot Springs). That announcement got a good bit of attention. We’ve also had several smaller businesses open,” he said. “That’s encouraging. It’s neat to hold groundbreaking ceremonies for these businesses, then ribbon-cutting
ceremonies, then see them at each other’s events. It’s great to see businesses supporting one another.
“Another good thing happening this month in Malvern is the grand-reopening of Food Center, our locally owned grocery store that had a fire months and months ago and had to rebuild. They are scheduled to reopen Feb. 20.”
Charlesa Black normally attends the annual chamber
awards banquet and did so this year. However, she found a surprise awaiting her. … She received the Educator of the Year Award, sponsored by Farmers Bank & Trust.
“I support the chamber, so I always go to the banquet,” she said.
When it came time for the winner of the Educator of the Year award to be announced, Black said, she started listening to the introduction and
wondered who might be the winner.
“There are several schools in the county, but when they started talking about this teacher being interested in dyslexia and special needs, I started looking around, wondering, ‘Who else is interested in this besides me?’ And then they announced my name,” Black said, laughing.
“I had no idea. … My family knew, but they were able to keep it a secret,” she said.
“I am honored and humbled by this award — humbled being the most important word,” said Black, who teaches fourthgrade English language arts at Malvern Elementary School. “I’ve been here 15 years and love my job.”
She said she has taken a special interest in students with dyslexia and sensory processing deficit. She has done research and taken special courses to help identify students with these special needs and develop teaching techniques to address their unique needs. She said her passion is for all students to read and be literate.
Meredith McCormack, principal of Malvern Elementary School, said Black “is so very deserving of this award.”
“One of the things we love about Mrs. Black is that she doesn’t mind being silly and dramatic to keep her students engaged,” McCormack said. “Also, she spends a great deal of time researching to make sure she knows the latest and greatest way to teach a certain skill.
“The students love her, and so does her faculty.”
Black was born in Carrollton, Georgia, into a military family.
“My dad was in the Army,” she said. “I married a military man — Kinney Black — who was also in the Army. I was a stay-at-home mom with our
two children for 12 years until they started school. I went to college later in life … while working as a wife, mom, military spouse and a [physical education] aide.
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,” Charlesa Black said.
She received a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in 1991 from Christopher Newport University at Newport News, Virginia.
“Since my husband was in the military, we traveled around a lot,” she said. “I have taught in Virginia, Germany, New Jersey and, now, Arkansas. I have taught kindergarten through fifth grade.”
Black has taken graduate courses in self-esteem for educators, teaching mathematics for understanding and dyslexia screening, and she attended the [English as a Second Language] Academy in Arkansas.
The Blacks moved to Malvern after her husband, who is from Malvern, retired from the Army. The chamber honored Kinney Black in 2016 with the Kristi Parker Norris Leadership Award.
“We moved here about 20 years ago,” Charlesa Black said. “I taught in Hot Springs four years before coming here. I am contemplating retirement but have not made any definite plans yet.”
The Blacks have two adult children. Their son, Gerald, and his wife, Katie, live in Malvern with their son, Davis, 10, who is in his grandmother’s fourth-grade class, and daughter, Taryn, 8, who also attends Malvern Elementary School. The Blacks’ daughter, Leslie, and her husband, Gabe Fisher, live in Hot Springs with their 4-year-old daughter, Cora.
“We spend as much time with our grandchildren as we can,” Charlesa Black said, smiling.
Others recognized at the chamber of commerce awards banquet include the following:
• Lt. Glen Pye of the Hot Spring County Sheriff ’s Office received the Law Officer of the Year Award, sponsored by the Malvern Lions Club. Pye has had a lifetime career in law enforcement but has been serving the local community for two years.
• Capt. Jonathan Farber of the Malvern Fire Department received the Firefighter of the Year Award, sponsored by Bill Scrimshire. Farber has been a firefighter for 16 years and has served as a training officer for the department.
• Sheryln Davis received the Healthcare Worker of the Year Award, sponsored by McClure Real Estate. A pharmacist since
1990, Davis opened her own business in 2018.
• Asijah “Asia” Yarbrough, a senior at Malvern High School, received the Young Person of the Year Award, sponsored by Bank OZK. She also received a $250 scholarship from the Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Fund. Yarbrough is the senior class secretary and is a member of the Student Council. She was a Girls State delegate in 2018. She is also involved in choir and is a praise dancer, a youth-group secretary and youth-group superintendent of Sunday School at her church. She received a full scholarship to Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, and plans to become a physical therapist.
• Danny Riggan of Malvern received the Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by the Diamond Lakes Federal Credit Union. Riggan is a former chairman of the Malvern/ Hot Spring County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and has served on the board of directors of the Baptist Health Medical Center-Hot Spring County Hospital Foundation, the Hot Spring County Economic Development Corp., the Hot Spring County 4-H and the Hot Spring County Fair Association. He is a member of the Malvern Round-up Club and the Lions Club and served on the HSC Conversations Malvern Steering Committee and the Brickfest Planning Committee.
• Von Michael, food services manager at College of the Ouachitas, received the Manager of the Year Award, sponsored by Southern Bancorp. Her community activities include volunteering at the annual Malvern Brickfest and serving as festival chairwoman for the past several years.
• Family Farm at Glen Rose, owned and operated by Stan and Donna May, received the Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Malvern National Bank. This business has been locally owned and operated for 33 years and provides summer
camp to hundreds of children each year.
• Gerald Williams of Malvern, pastor at Glen Rose Assembly of God and editor of
The Heritage publication for the Hot Spring County Historical Society, received the Kristi Parker Norris Community Service Award, sponsored by the Malvern Daily Record.
Williams is a former board member of the Hot Spring County Historical Society and retired after 29 years with the Malvern School District. He has pastored four churches in the area.
Charlesa Black, a fourth-grade teacher at Malvern Elementary School, received the Educator of the Year Award at the annual Malvern/ Hot Spring County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet. She has taught at the school for 15 years.
Capt. Jonathan Farber of the Malvern Fire Department accepts the Firefighter of the Year Award from Jennifer Eubanks, administrative assistant at the Malvern/Hot Spring County Area Chamber of Commerce. Farber has been a firefighter for 16 years.
Danny Riggan presents the Healthcare Worker of the Year Award to Shelyn Davis, who is a pharmacist and just opened her own business in 2018. Riggan, a former chairman of the Malvern/Hot Spring County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, received the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent chamber awards banquet.
Jackie Lawson, left, representing Bank OZK, presents the Young Person of the Year Award to Asijah Yarbrough, a senior at Malvern High School.
Kathy Ramsey, left, representing Southern Bancorp, presents the Manager of the Year Award to Von Michael, food-services manager at College of the Ouachitas.
Gerald Williams, left, accepts the Kristi Parker Norris Community Service Award from Kelly Freudensprung, representing the