‘Going above and beyond’
Dawn Sheffield named Citizen of the Year at annual Chamber banquet
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Dawn Sheffield graciously accepted the Citizen of the Year award Thursday night at the culmination of the 80th Annual Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet. 
Staff Photo by Angela Pitts

Feb. 10, 2006 -- Hopkins County's citizen of the year honors for 2005 highlighted the 80th Annual Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet Thursday evening.

Bobby McDonald, 2004 Citizen of the Year, was called upon to recognize this year's recipient, Dawn Sheffield.

"One has only to read and listen to learn about the daily work Dawn Sheffield has done to improve the quality of life for citizens of Hopkins County," one of the letters of nomination read. "Through Hopkins County Community Action Network and its board of directors, Dawn has truly helped to provide services which both directly and indirectly touch the lives of all citizens in the county."

 Sheffield was recognized for heading an emergency response team, initiating a parenting class for divorcing parents, starting a "Career Clothing Closet" for women who are entering or re-entering the workforce, and a "Toys for Grandparents" program for those grandparents who cannot afford Christmas gifts.

Sheffield was also noted for completing all the requirements for certification of a "2-1-1" information and referral network that serves nine counties.

The author of another letter of nomination cited Sheffield for both her personal and professional accomplishments since 2001, saying she identified a need in Hopkins County and went to work.

"Seeing an acute community deficit in Hopkins County, she went for it — going above and beyond in a personal campaign to right the injustices which she saw," the letter read.

Beta Sigma Phi's Lady of the Year for 2005 was presented to Bonnie Gilmer by Linda Christian.

"She moved to Sulphur Springs in 1978, and she hit the ground running and hasn't stopped," Christian said. "While most of us are standing around talking about what we should do, she is partially through with the job."

When Gilmer worked with the Wesley United Methodist Church shelter for refugees from Hurricane Katrina, she was described as a salvation, guardian angel, peacekeeper, organizer, records keeper, administrator, manager and possessor of a wonderful smile and spirit.

The task of selecting Pilot Club's Caregiver of the Year honoree is one of the most difficult because each of the nominees is deserving of special recognition for the care they give to a loved one, family member or friend.

The Pilot Club, each year, selects that most outstanding caregiver based on recommendations from those who know the caregiver best.

Yvonne Womack, in introducing Pat Higginbotham as this year's recipient, said the award goes to an outstanding Christian lady who has been very active in the Terrific Tuesdays program at First United Methodist Church and dedicates her spare time to educate others about Alzheimer's disease.

"This [Terrific Tuesdays] program has been a priority with her because, over the past two years, her life has taken a different path," Womack said. "She had worked her whole life looking forward to her retirement years with her husband and to travel and enjoy each other, but when her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, her plans were changed."

After taking early retirement, the recipient put her husband's needs ahead of her own.

"She retired early in order to be the one to take care of her best friend," Womack continued. "On bright, sunny days she rides him around and devotes all her time to making his life better."

Dr. LaVelle Hendricks, pastor of East Caney Missionary Baptist Church, and the Rev. Steve Davis of Wesley United Methodist Church were recognized by Eighth Judicial District Judge Robert Newsom as recipients of Community Pride Awards presented by the Leadership Class of 1994.

Dr. Hendricks was cited for his participation in the 15th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, which almost filled the 1,500-seat Civic Center auditorium.

"This award is presented to Dr. LaVelle Hendricks and his MLK Day celebration committee," Judge Newsom said.

Davis accepted the Community Pride Award on behalf of his church in recognition of its many programs and activities and for serving as shelter to more than 300 people who were evacuated from New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"The last week in August, 2005, they were given the opportunity to open their building, their arms and hearts to those people who had just escaped devastation," Judge Newsom said. "With the loving assistance of volunteers, they managed to care for, feed, sleep, cloth and help with jobs and relocation for all of their New Orleans guests for almost a month."

The Vision Award was presented to Sulphur Springs Independent School District Superintendent Patsy Bolton by David Brewer, board chairman of Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce.

"Whatever the endeavor —always approached from the heart — planning and requesting support for what is best for this community, this individual works joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts inevitably bring about the right results," Brewer said. "Patsy Bolton, thank you for having vision for this community."

Agriculturist of the Year Award was presented to Bryant Fisher and his family by Sherry Weims, representing Professional Ag Workers of Hopkins County.

Fisher was recognized for his continuing work for the dairy industry, including serving as president of the Texas Dairy Herd Improvement Program, advisory board for the Dairy Records Management System, Southeastern Area Council person for Dairy Farmers of America, board member of Texas Association of Dairymen and member of the National Beef Council.

He has also served as dairy superintendent for the Northeast Texas Livestock Association for 10 years.

Fisher was joined by his wife, Marilee, and son Blake in receiving the award.

Hopkins County Industry of the Year award, presented by City National Bank President Lee Teetes, was awarded to Guaranty Bond Bank.

"This business has been an asset to our community both as an employer and a participant in local civic activities," Teetes said. "It has been a welcome addition to our area since its opening in August of 1999."

Craig Roberts accepted the award on behalf of Guaranty Bond Bank.

The Small Business Award was presented to Bob and Peggy Weaver, owners of Town and Country Cleaners, for their many contributions to the community.

In making the presentation, Chris Coleman highlighted only a few of the business's activities.

"This years 'Small Business Appreciation Award' recipient has been a contributor to the Cattle Baron's Ball in the past and has supported many activities for children and youths in Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County," Coleman said. "They have been supporters of the Symphony League and the 'Paint the Town Purple' Alzheimers Walk."

Gerald Grafton, math teacher at Sulphur Springs High School, was recognized as Educator of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce Education Committee.

Grafton was described as being the type of teacher who is always looking for "a new and exciting way to get things across to his students." He is also active in University Interscholastic League math and science activities.

  Annada Jones was recognized as the Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year for her efforts to recruit at least two new members, attending nine of the 12 monthly meetings and 50 percent of the ribbon cuttings and other official functions.

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