The Vernon Chamber of Commerce held its 11th annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet last Thursday at the Wilbarger Auditorium Several local citizens were recognized for their contributions over the past year.
Dr. Steven Rapp was presented the Soil and Water Conservation District’s Conservation Farmer of the Year Award, while Amanda Lehman and Garrett Munson were recognized with co-Citizen of the Year designations.
Dr. Rapp was presented the Conservation award by Joe Coufal. Coufal said the winner of the annual Soil Conservation award, first presented in 1961, has to be a “very good steward of the land before he’s eligible for this award. This man comes from a family of good stewards.”
Coufal said Rapp’s parents Leon and Lucille, farmed near Farmer’s Valley, and dealt with wind and water erosion, which caused sandstorms and gullies, which the family worked hard to prevent. He said their son had carried on that tradition by putting cropland into native preservation.
“As we read in our Bible, Numbers tells us to leave a sound inheritance to our children,” Coufal said, explaining that is what had happened, and was continuing in the family tradition.
Chamber of Commerce Director Kathy Craighead said two people were selected as the Citizen of the Year. She said Garrett Munson was nominated for his volunteer work, in planting a pumpkin patch and using the proceeds to help the needy. Amanda Lehman was nominated for hard work as the city’s Main Street/Tourism Director in promoting the community and for her many volunteer activities. The Outstanding Citizen Award was first awarded in 1931.
Director Craighead, in opening the proceedings reported the Chamber had been operating in Vernon since 1897. “We added 17 new business in 2022, making 223 active members,” she reported, and then thanked the chamber members for attending the banquet.
The Revitalization/Beautification Award was presented to Tyson Foods for their assistance in creating the Wright Pavilion downtown. The award was first presented in 1996, and Wright Brand previously won the ard in 1998. Tyson was also recognized as co-Chamber member of the Year. Jennifer Gillis accepted the awards for the company.
The Volunteer of the Year award was presented to the Vernon College softball team. The team members acted as servers during the banquet and were also recognized for the many charitable activities the team donated time to assist with.
Bevo’s Restaurant was presented the Chamber member of the Year award. The award was accepted by Malinda Steele and her staff.
The Customer Care award was presented to Southwest Rural Electric, and to United Supermarket. Mike Wolfe accepted the award for SWRE. Larry Williams and his staff accepted the award for United.
The Director of the Year, presented annually since 1992, was awarded to Valerie Wright. The Director’s Award was presented by Craighead to Emory Byars.
Craighead thanked outgoing president Heidi Slaydon for her service. The 2023 board of directors were swrorn in by Wilbarger County Judge Greg Tyra. The new board includes Melissa Conner, president; Randall Mints, 1st VP; Malinda Steel, 2nd VP; Toby Kitchens, treasurer; and directors Kris Fritze, Valerie Wright, Will Chilton, Terry Nava, Cheyanne Nava, Callee Serrano, Karla Singleton, and Bradley Horry.