Community leaders, teachers, and student recognized by Fairfield Chamber of Commerce…
Citizen of the Year award was a tie, and the Lifetime Achievement award went to a gentleman who is still very much active in the community, at the annual Awards Banquet last week for the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce.
The atmosphere was fun and relaxed, as the Board has chosen a “Gone Fishing” theme this year. Several event goers got into the spirit by wearing their fishing vests and hats.
Best Dressed theme was no contest, as new Park Superintendent Timothy King wore his everyday gear from Fairfield Lake State Park.
Following a delicious catfish meal, the awards ceremony began with an introduction of the new Chamber Board and a legislative update from State Representative Byron Cook.
Fairfield ISD Interim Superintendent Melissa Cox took the stage to recognize some outstanding teachers and to introduce the coveted Student of the Year award.
Helyn K. Williams is named Elementary School Teacher of the Year for going the extra mile.
Gina Martin is named Intermediate School Teacher of the Year. One student commented, “I feel happy and successful in her class.”
Tammy Gawryszewski, Library Media Specialist at Fairfield Junior High, is named Junior High Teacher of the Year. One of her peers remarked that Gawryszewski researches “timelessly for what is best for our students.”
Cheryl Stone is named High School Teacher of the Year. Described as passionate and committed, Stone has spent her entire 30 year-career at FHS.
This year’s Youth Citizen of the Year was selected by committee, explains Interim Superintendent Cox. “His character, heart and human achievement outshines his academic achievement,” she says.
Described as the best speaker to walk the halls of FHS (two years State UIL), the ultimate teammate (never missing a power lifting practice), and a student who will make a lasting impact where ever he goes, Matt Mooneyham is named Student Citizen of the Year.
Next, community awards were presented.
“A community is only as good as its volunteers,” stated Chamber Ambassador Bettye Trask, as she began to list the work of two citizens, who form a formidable team.
Janet and Kenny Bulger are well known for their tireless involvement in such organizations as Relay for Life, Freestone Cancer Support Group, Fairfield Young Farmers, FFA Food for America, Friends of Fairfield Lake State Park (including the park’s annual Fish Derby), Fairfield Lions Club and Go-Texan Scholarship Program. The Bulgers also man the kitchen at First Baptist Church to provide for kids participating in the bus ministry and Awana club.
Bringing the magic of art to the community is this year’s Civic Organization of the Year: members of the Trinity Star Arts Council. Sponsoring art, music and theatre, this group has sponsored several events for area students, as well as the community at large.
In fact, according to presenter Scott Bossier, this year’s Art Festival brought in 5,000 citizens and visitors to the downtown square. Board Director Janie Richards accepted the award on behalf of Trinity Star Arts Council.
Navarro College Career & Technical Center is award Business of The Year. Located on the former “Telephone Hill,” the Fairfield campus began as a partnership in 2012 with FIDC to offering welding classes in the area, says presenter Mary Small.
Since then, the campus has expanded the Welding Program and added a Police Academy and Certified Nurse’s Aide class. The facility has also been developed to include more labs, classrooms and a multi-purpose meeting room.
Accepting the award on behalf of Navarro College was “Head Bulldog,” Linda Davis.
Described by Pastor Ken Pruitt as a family of people with a desire to serve, Adrenaline Fitness is named the Small Business of the Year.
Beginning in their garage, Sheila and Larry Raye shared a vision to help people who were “prisoners in their own body.” Adrenaline Fitness has expanded several times, now employing eleven people and offering programs for all ages, and all physical abilities.
It is place that serves as a second home, according to Pastor Pruitt, where deep friendships are formed and prayer is a spontaneous occurrence. “They empower people to become happy and healthy in mind, body and spirit,” he says.
Described as selfless and humble by his grandson, Joe Lee Kirgan, Jr. is awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for his many years of service to the Fairfield community.
Beginning his first newspaper job at thirteen years of age, Kirgan operated the Fairfield Recorder from 1960 to 1985. During that time, he served as Vice-President of the Texas Press Association Advisory Board.
He served as a leader in his community in several ways, including as President of the Chamber, Board member of the local Country Club, and City Councilman from 1975-79 and 2007 to present.
A big fan of sports, Kirgan helped to organize the Little Dribblers program, and served as a Boy Scout leader.
A member of the Masonic Lodge, Kirgan also served as District Governor for Rotary International.
“I am proud to have his last name,” said presenter, Joe Lee Kirgan, IV as his grandfather took the stage.
Nineteen cakes, and as many door prizes, were donated by Chamber members and Fairfield businesses. Kevin Moller of Incommons Bank (and Fairfield Lions Club member) had the first successful bid, taking home an Italian Crème cake donated by Armadillo Emporium.
“I don’t have the numbers, but I think we exceeded 50% more than last year,” said Auctioneer Ralph Billings, when the last cake was sold. Funds raised are used to pay for banquet catering, as well as Chamber sponsored events through the year.
Plaques of appreciation were presented to Billings and to The Depot X owner, Paul Kennedy, who donates use of his beautiful facility each year.
Mary Small was presented the award for Ambassador of the Year.
Ambassadors for 2017 include Amy Freeman (SBDC), Bettye Trask (Freestone Cancer Support Group), Cristina Sandifer, Teresa Duke (Community National Bank and Trust), Karen Leidy (Freestone County Times), Landis Bayless (Heritage Title), Mary Small (Accessories, Etc.), Kris Simmons (Fairfield Lake State Park), Jim Watterson (Freestone Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram), Nick Crandall (Tri-County Golf Club at the Vineyards), Ken Givens (US Merchant Payment Solutions), Keith Daniel (Good Neighbor Laundry & Cleaners), Caycie Wendt (Certified Personal Trainer), Bekah Ballard (Ballard Company), Brenda Finley (Brenda’s Closet), Lea Anne Somerville (Fairfield Homes & Land and Willow Basket Bread Company), and Rachel Glander (Sonic Drive-In).
The 2017 Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors are Chair – Josh Bayless (Bayless NAPA Auto), Vice-Chair – Gail Farish (Creations Flowers & Gifts), Treasurer – Dwayne Somerville (Fairfield Homes & Land), Secretary – Gina Martin (Fairfield ISD and Origami Owl), Board Member – Nicole Ballard (Rachel Anderson Real Estate), Board Member –Patty Pratt (Freestone County Historical Museum), Board Member – Averie Grant (The Shops at Peridot), Admin. Assistant – Lisa Schick and Executive Director – Brenda Pate.
For more information on becoming a Chamber member, contact them at 903-389-5792 or visit their office at 900 West Commerce in Fairfield, Texas.
Cakes for Auction were donated by Armadillo Emporium, Le-vel/Thrive, Willow Basket Bread Company, FCC Director, Creations Flowers & Gifts, Bayless NAPA Auto, Jessica Long, Stoneleaf of Fairfield, Juls by Jul, Navarro Small Business Development Center, Freestone County Historical Museum, B. Finley Oil Services, Something Different, Gina Martin/Origami Owl, Brenda Pate/FCC Director, Brenda’s Closet, and Freestone County Times.
Door prizes were donated by Accessories, Etc., Creations Flowers & Gifts, Juls by Jul, Jim Watterson / Freestone, Chrysler, Jeep Dodge, Ram; Armadillo Emporium, Brenda’s Closet, Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, L&M Trophies, Bayless NAPA Auto, Kennedy’s Korner, Big Daddy’s Detail, The Candle Shop, Texas Outfitters & Emporium, Origami Owl/Gina Martin, Robinson Trading Post, The Shops at Peridot, Dry Gulch Mercantile, Adrenaline Fitness, DoTerra Essential Oils - D. McGarry and Karen Leidy / Grandma’s Upcycle Girls.
Best Dressed Theme Wear goes to new Park Superintendent Tim King (right), joined by Kris Simmons (middle) and Marilyn Monroe (a.k.a. Chamber Admin. Assistant Lisa Schick) at left.
Attendees made use of a free photo booth to create momentos of this year’s Awards Banquet.
Assisting Auctioneer Ralph Billings (right) is Miss Teen Freestone County, Ashlyn Garcia (left).