Mark Scirto, the chief meterologist for KLTV Tyler, joked that he had never been “the entertainment” before. He also promised he would neither sing nor dance for the group. Instead, he told the story of how an Italian-Sicilian American descentdant got from the Buffalo, New York area to East Texas before returning to the station to do the 10 p.m. weather.
Billy Foote served as the Master of Ceremonies and introduced last year’s recipients to name new honorees.
Honored were Top Citizen, Henry Troell; Educator of the Year, Martha Davis; Top Hand (given to a committee), the Wild Hog Hunt Committee; Humanitarian of the Year, Sue Williams; and Unsung Hero, the volunteers at the First United Methodist Church’s Clothes Closet ministry.
Troell, owner of one of the two State Farm Insurance agencies in Gilmer, has been a dedicated member of the Buckeye Athletic Booster Club. Although his oldest child did not begin playing Gilmer school football until last year, he has served the Booster Club for many years and has been both president and treasurer of the club.
He can be found in the Press Boxboth before and during Friday night football games, setting up broadcasting equipment, helping with the game broadcast, keeping statistics and whatever else needs to be done.
He was instrumental in the revamping of the “Welcome to Gilmer” signs after the Buckeyes won their second state football championship in 2009.
Troell also presents high school students with academic awards at each year’s Gilmer High School Academic Award Banquet and sponsors a spelling team at the annual Spelling Bee for Literacy.
As a business owner, he donates both time and money to several organizations in the area. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and served as its president in 2005.
He and his wife Melissa have three children, Zachary, Alyssa and Jenna Grace. Despite his busy schedule, his family is his number one priority. He can be found coaching sports his children are involved in, or in the stands cheering them on.
He and his family are very active members of First Baptist Church.
Mrs. Davis believes that the success in her life is not measured by how much money she has, but by how many lives she has impacted in a positive way. Being selected as the Gilmer High School Teacher of the Year for 2009-2010 is proof that she has succeeded.
She has taught special education for 14 years and considers herself very blessed. She also enjoys helping young people succeed in the community, especially through church and Scouting.
She has served in various church activities, including working as Vacation Bible School director and preteen camp counselor, and has held many positions in the Scouting program in both Gregg and Upshur Counties. She currently is a Troop Committee member.
Mrs. Davis believes that teaching is all about changing lives through interaction.
The Top Hand Award is designated for a group that has done an outstanding job. The Chamber is funded by membership dues, Yamboree contributions and fund-raising events.
Last year, an idea for a fund-raising event was presented at a Chamber board meeting and the board decided to act on it.
One board member volunteered to chair the event. From there, a committee of members from the community was formed. They were given a few guidelines to follow and they were off and running and pulled off an event with only 2 1/2 months of planning. The event, the Hog Wild Hunting Tournament, benefited area land owners as well as the Chamber’s finances.
The Hog Wild committee includes chairman Jeff Dodd. Jim Barnhart, Michael Blanks, Ike Fluellen, Troy Murray, Becky Skinner, Byron Spencer, Mike Spencer, Brandon Wilson, Jennifer Wilson and Chane Young.
Mrs. Williams has been described as a generous and caring person who gives of herself to improve the lives of other.
Some of her professional achievements include Gilmer ISD Teacher of the Year, Upshur County Educator of the Year, Business and Professional Women’s Club Woman of the Year, and Beta Sigma Pho sorority’s First Lady of the Year.
She has also served as a member of the East Texas Workforce Development Board, which serves 14 counties.
She spent 26 years teaching English at Gilmer High School before retiring. She also taught adult education at Kilgore College for 22 of those years.
During that time, she realized the extreme need for a literacy program and wrote a Federal Literacy Grand Application, which was successful, and Upshur County Library Literacy Program began in October, 1988.
Countless numbers of teenagers and adults have had the opportunity to further their education and/or literacy, improve their qualityof life, economic situation and self-confidence through this program by hands-on assistance and support from Mrs. Williams and her staff.
As a member of the Gilmer Rotary Club and founder of the Upshur County Literacy Program, she helped organize the annual Bee for Literacy, the major fund-raiser for the Literacy Program.
The Clothes Close began in 1980 when the Child Welfare Board needed help in making donated clothing available to foster children and their families.
Already supporters of the foster child program, the Methodist women enthusiastically embraced this as their mission, becoming a Society of St. Stephen. They went to work washing, repairing and sorting clothing that had been pushed aside and piled to the ceiling in a corner room in the old Rock Building.
In November, 1980, with $100 donated by the the United Methodist Women to get the project started, the Clothes Closet opened at the Rock Building to serve needy families. By making good clothing available to those in need at a reasonable price, money was generated to benefit foster children.
By 1982, the ministry had outgrown its space and moved to a small frame house donated by two church members.
That year, about 3,000 pieces of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing were sold at prices ranging from a dime to a dollar. That generated $1,500 that was given to the Child Welfare Board to provide monthly allowances for children in foster care.
Three moves and 28 years later, the Clothes Closet has grown into a critical resource for struggling families and emergency household needs within our community. In addition to clothing, it offers household items, toys, books, baby items and accessories at nominal prices, often just 25 cents per item. In cases of emergency or extreme need, items are provided at no cost.
As in the beginning, the Clothes Closet uses the incom from sales of donated items to serve those in need and to give back to the church and community. In 2010, more than $30,000 was generated.
After minimal operating expenses, their distribution of funds included, among others:
• Relay for Life, $2,500
• Friends of the Library Summer Reading Program, $500
• Upward Basketball scholarships, $888.
• Upshur County Food Bank, $7,500
• Upshur County Child Welfare, $15,000, and
• Gilmer Area Chamber of Commerce, $395, for repair of Santa’s House, which had been damaged by vandals.
All this was accomplished totally by volunteers, from those who built shelves and rack and made needed renovations to whose who do the washing, mending, ironing, organizing and selling merchandse. Each week, tireless dedicated volunteers spend as much as six hours a day for for four or five days preparing for Thursday and Saturday mornings when the Clothes Closet is open at the Harrison House across from the Methodist Church at the intersection of Buffalo and Montgomery Sts.
The workers find their reward in the expressions of those they serve: the joy on the face of a child with his first cowboy boots; the delight of the young bride who found a beautiful, affordable wedding dress; and the gratitude of the grandmother who can buy school clothes for eight grandchildren.
Joy Beth Moore is the current chairman. As many as ten ladies routinely volunteer to the ministry; however, special recognition goes to Milta Baugh and Loyce Williford, who have each been actively involved in the operation of the Clothes Closet for almost 20 years.