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A Magical Night: Annual Honors Presented at Chamber Banquet

To sum it up in one sentence – it was an unforgettable evening filled with amazement, delicious meal, trickery and awards for the most deserving people. That’s the best description for this year’s 67th Annual Delta County Chamber Banquet event held Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. This year guests and directors adorned Mardi Gras masks to add to the mystical theme for the evening. Special guest performance by the ever-talented magician Diamond Jim Tyler impressed the entire audience especially his volunteers on stage even creating flames from his wallet.

The awards ceremony also had its own disappearing act with the announcement of the First Responder of the Year.

“This young man contributes in just about any way he can for his hometown and all of Delta County. I can honestly say he wears more hats than I do. From working with the Child Welfare Board, serving on the Delta County Economic Development Board, treasurer of the Delta County Cotton Harvest Festival Committee,” announced Chamber Board Vice President Cindy Roller. “But his contributions don’t stop there. He is a Graduate Assistant at Texas A&M University in Commerce. He is a crucial part to the Delta County Courthouse. But the reason he was honored is for the work he does when those sirens in town sound. He drops what he was doing, rushes to the put on all that fire gear, hops in that big red truck and is the first to the scene. He is the assistant fire chief of the Cooper Volunteer Fire Department.”

But before the award could be presented to Tanner Crutcher, he was called away to a structure fire. His nephew Tate Waller accepted on his behalf. Fortunately the Chamber’s 2017 First Responder of the Year Award recipient returned to the event to be surprised by the honor. Delta County Chamber of Commerce Board President Kathy Houchins gave the welcome and presented each award winner with their plaques.

The opening award for the night was to the Educator of the Year.

“We will begin with the award for a person that has been inspiring young minds and giving all other careers and professions their start. Education is what our entire lives are based upon; it is by definition a body of knowledge acquired while being educated, an enlightening experience,” said Roller, formally. “In the words of his son, this man has devoted 46 years to teaching and the majority of those at Cooper. He is an amazing role model and example of what it means to be a good person. He has had a positive impact on thousands of people in his time as a coach and teacher. A student nominated him for doing a wonderful job of making learning fun. In all probably the highest compliment a teacher can receive.”

A round of applause was given to the Educator of the Year, Mr. John Silman, who was surrounded by his family.

“This man has recently taken office serving Delta County as the new Precinct 1 Commissioner. His wife has worked for 17 years at Texas A&M University in Commerce, serving as Director of Applied Sciences,” said Roller. This family is a fine example of a solid family farm, with children participating as much as their parents. They are active in FFA, school sports and activities and church functions.

It all started in 1994, with the purchase of the Grady and Wilma Goolsby place that once was a dairy farm while working with his dad, Jackie, at their J&E Welding & Machine Shop.

Eric and Misty Lair married in 1995 and started their family in 1997 with their first-born, Logan, followed by Jayla in 1999.  They went into the cattle business in 1999.  During the drought years when grass and water became scarce, they researched the prospect of raising sheep on their Crazy L Ranch. They sold all their cattle and concentrated on raising Dorpers. They did go back into the cattle business when weather conditions improved and now raise both cross-bred cattle and sheep. In addition to their stock, they have developed good hay-producing meadows that serve both them and their customers.

In fact, last weekend the family was at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo with Jayla showing her Dorper sheep.

They are part of a new breed of young farmers and ranchers who are at ease on the internet researching ways to improve all aspects of their agriculture businesses. Too, they are a positive presence in the community and serve it well.

Congratulations to Eric and Misty Lair, Agriculturist of the Year. Eric’s parents, Jackie and Marcia Lair, accepted the award on their behalf.

The next duo that has been the face of the Delta 4-H Club for the past dozen years was selected as the Volunteers of the Year. They take the time to plan monthly meetings with great educational topics and good food. The 4-H members always knew that meeting would be fun and a learning experience. They learned leadership skills and how to be all around good productive citizens for the community.  Delta County is fortunate to have volunteers, who help in so many ways to nurture the lives of our young people.

Lisa Chambliss and her children, Jack, Austin and Sally, have been very active in many 4-H projects.  Among the many projects, the shooting sports project has been very important to the family. Most dear to her, is the Exceptional Horse Show that the club sponsors each year for special needs children in our community. She is the librarian at Cooper Junior High and High School. They live near Cooper. Their son, Austin, is a student at Texas A&M University in Commerce and son and daughter Jack and Sally are in the Navy.

Working side-by-side this volunteer is Monica Purviance. Her daughter, Rilee, was a very active member during that time.  She also helped working with the food and nutrition contests and the Exceptional Horse show, hauling members to 4-H camp and lock-ins. She is an NRCS District Conservationist with the USDA office in Greenville.  She, her husband Jesse and her daughter Rilee, who is a student at Paris Jr. College, live in Cooper.

The Delta 4-H Club is very important to Lisa Chambliss and Monica Purviance – making these ladies equally important to the Chamber. They were introduced by Delta 4-H Club President Marissa Welch, officers AnnMarie Sokol and Shalee Pickett. 

Citizen of the Year is reserved for a special person.

“This person goes above and beyond for the community. This person takes a run down, usually abandoned property and spends countless hours restoring and renovating. She takes extra care to restore life into the history of Delta County,” said Roller. “Her favorite place to be is behind the steering wheel of a backhoe. She is at the heart of the real estate business with her loving mother…A prime example of her latest endeavor is the Hickman house across the street from Delta Supermarket. This two-story former hospital has found new hope and new beginnings with bits of history from the metal staircase to the restoration of the inside from top to bottom. That is just one of many properties she has put her heart and soul into for our community. She is our very own Fixer Upper! And we could not be more proud of the work she does to make our County beautiful again.”

The Chamber sufficiently managed to surprise Carmen Chessher with the honor.

“Every year we spend time thinking about the most deserving business entity in Delta County. The selection for this year is a reflection of community support. This business gives back and helps make the community prosper,” announced Roller. “This past year this business helped support the first annual Delta County Cotton Harvest, they worked to provide the necessary preparations like providing paint and supplies making the gazebo and the Square in Cooper look so nice for the event and especially visitors. In the past this business has helped provide for those in need by donating air conditioners. This business is always first in line to donate to the school helping with the updates the District needs to give the students best environment for sports and learning. This business and its owner never hesitate when asked to help.”

The Chamber presented Business of the Year to Hwy 24 Lumber and Feed and Jason Ingram. Ingram was also attending the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

Providing the catered meal of boneless pork loin, baked potato, macaroni and cheese and roll was Teresa Hanson. Hanson is the manager of Delta Family Mart. Assisting her was Darlene Hammons, Tiffany Jester, Pam Redmond, Rhonda Morris, Regina White and Lisa Sloan. Cooper High School National Honor Society servers were Antonia Clark, Mikayla Stuart, Gracie Sepulveda, Jaidee Robertson and Gabby Brown. The Cooper High School Culinary Arts Class instructed by Heather Murray provided the chocolate Texas Sheet Cake along with Board Vice President Cindy Roller.

Elected officials present for the evening were Mayor Scotty Stegall, Justice of the Peace Ginny Phifer, Sheriff Ricky Smith, Constable Marshall Lynch and from Senator Bob Hall’s office District Director Destin Sensky. Those were announced by Director Richard Roan.

Giving the prayer was Commander of the Red Henderson Post 483 of the American Legion Gary Thompson. He also led the Pledge of Allegiance. Singing the National Anthem a cappella was Cooper High School student Mikayla Stuart. To which the Board appreciated her stepping up without notice to perform for the event. Helping to sell tickets was volunteer Edwin Slough. A special thanks to Hoity-Toity for assistance in the décor for the night and the photo booth along with the donations made by Delta Family Mart and Cooper Review and assisting with programs George and Pam Stapp. The Chamber also appreciates Cooper ISD for the use of the facility and for Willie “Bear” Wilkins for preparations and assistance.

In the contest for Best Table décor judged by the servers, Hoity-Toity was presented the honor. The Chamber thanks all those who participated in this first time competition. It was amazing to see all the beautifully decorated themed tables. Winning the door prize of the individual memberships (valued at $35 each) to the Chamber were Justice of the Peace Ginny Phifer and Constable Marshall Lynch.

Board of Directors present for the Banquet included President Kathy Houchins, Vice President Cindy Roller, members: Brenda Stewart, Shelli Hilliard, George Stapp and Richard Roan with office manager Gracie Young. Others on the Board of Directors include: James Jarrell, Mindy Hicks, Kelly Chester, Kendra Ingram and Carol Petty.

President Houchins gave an appreciation to all who helped make this event possible and those who came out and supported.

To become a member of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce call 903.395.4314 or the Cooper Review at 903.395.2175. The Chamber office is located at 41 West Side Square in Cooper. It can be found online at www.deltacounty.org or on Facebook. Both business and individual memberships are available.

See a clip from the entertainment Diamond Jim Tyler:


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