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Chamber honors community pillars
Chamber - Paula Barnes.jpg
Paula Barnes and her late husband Jim were presented with the Distinguished Citizen Award on Monday night. Pictured, from left, are presenter Dayron Deaton-Owens, Paula Barnes and son Jimmy Barnes.

Paula Barnes has danced her way into the hearts of many Warren County families.

She received the most prestigious honor Monday night, along with her late husband Jimmy, at the McMinnville-Warren County Chamber of Commerce banquet.

Paula and Big Jim were honored with the Distinguished Citizen Award in front of a packed crowd at Milner Recreation Center.

“We as a family appreciate this with some of the things we’ve gone through the past two years,” said Paula, who lost her husband to COVID on Nov. 23, 2020. “Big Jim has always been my No. 1 fan.”

Paula opened Paula’s Dance Academy in 1977 at age 19. She started taking ballet classes at age 4. After closing to start her family, Paula’s Dance Academy reopened in 1988 with Paula serving as sole instructor for 23 years. 

Paula has helped students attain dance scholarships and many have gone on to dance at the collegiate level. Her former dancers have been hired by organizations in the NFL, NBA and NHL and been featured in commercials, music videos and various award shows.

Big Jim was known as gregarious and generous. He was a soccer enthusiast who helped for 12 years at Pistole Park. He was a church deacon, a county commissioner from 1990 to 1996, and always a role model for the dancers at Paula’s.

He started his own nursery, Heritage Farms, which is enjoying its 31st anniversary and remains in the capable hands of son Jimmy Barnes.

Graves Family Pharmacy was given the Community Impact Award. The pharmacy, owned by Chad and Emily Graves, was extremely active in holding vaccination clinics in communities throughout the county and even at the fair.

“We were able to get straight to the vaccination work because we didn’t have any customers,” said Chad in accepting the award. The pharmacy opened Feb. 1, 2021.

“They have held vaccine clinics throughout the county and they were the only location other than Saint Thomas River Park which administered monoclonal antibodies, which prevented many hospitalizations and more than likely prevented several deaths,” said Dale Humphrey, hospital CEO, in presenting the award.

Dwayne and Bernadette Doud were given the Free Enterprise Award for their efforts in transforming the old Morrison School into a first-rate entertainment facility called Detention @ The Elementary.

“They took an old school building and by remodeling and adding an addition have made it into a unique business while keeping a school-themed atmosphere that provides something for everyone of all ages,” said presenter John Chisam. “Whether you are needing a gym with a flexible workout schedule, a place to hold a celebration, a meeting area, or just taking the family out for dinner in a school cafeteria setting, it can all be done in one place, The Detention.”

Dale Groves was recognized as the Edwin Partin Retailer of the Year recipient. His charming shop, Southern Traditions, is located on Main Street. It first opened in 1993.

“Throughout his business career, he has donated countless items for community events, fundraisers and benefit auctions,” said presenter Shane Brock. “The word 'no' often never existed in his vocabulary when asked to help with an anniversary, birthday party, church event, your child’s wedding, company Christmas party, or maybe decorating your own house for the Christmas season.”

Dayron Deaton-Owens, a former Chamber board chair, received Volunteer of the Year for her tireless work with the organization.

Devonya King of NHC Homecare was recognized as Chamber Ambassador of the Year. A nurse, King has been involved with Warren County’s healthcare for close to 25 years and is always eager to promote the Chamber at ribbon cutting ceremonies.