The achievements of community leaders were pulled from the shadows and into the spotlight Monday night during the Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting at McMinnville Civic Center.
Four people were honored with Chamber awards, including Sheriff Jackie Matheny who was bestowed the Distinguished Citizen Award. The recognition came as a shock to Matheny, who was made to believe he was attending the banquet to present an award to a close friend.
“He has that cane so that probably gives him about a 10-foot reach,” said David Britton in surprising Matheny with the Distinguished Citizen Award. “I’m going to stay that far away from him.”
Because of recent hip surgery, Matheny was given a seat in front of the stage so he wouldn’t have to climb the stage stairs. It was while Matheny was sitting in front of the audience Britton revealed the award was actually for him.
A stunned Matheny was emotional in accepting the honor.
“He really did think he was there to give a speech for one of his close friends,” said Jackie’s wife, Katie. “He’s just a week and a half out of hip surgery and he kept trying to back out, saying he didn’t feel good enough to go to the banquet. We kept telling him you won’t have to talk more than two minutes and you can leave right after you’re done, so that’s what finally got him there.”
In presenting the award, Britton touched on several of Matheny’s accomplishments. He served in the Air Force from 1977-79 and first joined McMinnville Police Department in June 1986. He coached youth sport teams for years before becoming the first football coach at Warren County Middle School.
In 1993, Matheny began preaching and he was elected sheriff in 1994. He’s won every sheriff’s election since. On top of all his many accomplishments, Matheny has been named Mr. Warren County in the Best of the Best section published by the Southern Standard.
In other Chamber awards, Todd Herzog was given the Free Enterprise Award, Vernon Keith and Randy Griffith were given the Edwin Partin Retailer of the Year Award, and Kate Alsbrook was given Volunteer of the Year.
Herzog was praised by presenter Rodney Boyd in getting the Free Enterprise Award. He was acknowledged for his work in starting Accu-Router, a company he founded in Morrison after leaving Powermatic.
Herzog was the driving force behind establishing a Citizens for Progress Scholarship, which has distributed over $300,000 to students to date. His vision was key to bringing a Mechatronics program to Motlow and he’s currently working to take that training one step further with the concept of a robotics center in McMinnville.
He’s a Southern Standard columnist, a past president of the Chamber, a member of the Motlow board, and chair of the Business Roundtable Action Committee. Todd and his wife, Kathy, have been married 46 years.
Vernon Keith and Randy Griffith were lauded for their business acumen in receiving the Edwin Partin Retailer of the Year Award. Keith’s first stab at a retail business came in 1969 when he opened Chicken Chef. In 1974, General Equipment opened its doors with four employees.
As the business at General Equipment grew, Keith offered Griffith, his son-in-law, a job. Griffith has worked in all aspects of the business and is now a partner.
In 1980, General Equipment began selling products from John Deere and has made its stamp on that large corporation. John Deere requested the assistance of General Equipment in developing a cultivating tractor for nurseries in 1990.
General Equipment has received a number of awards from John Deere for its sales, service and customer satisfaction over the years.
“We’re a first-rate company because we hire first-rate people,” Keith told the Standard.
Jan Johnson presented the Volunteer of the Year Award to Kate Medley Alsbrook.
Johnson talked about how Alsbrook is always eager to lend a hand with Junior Auxiliary and has co-chaired events such as its Spring Gala and Sip & Savor. She was also a big contributor for Christmas in the Park and continually helps with Main Street McMinnville events.
Her dedication to community service is one reason Alsbrook was offered a part-time job at the Chamber by president Mandy Eller.
In addition to those awards, two businesses were recognized as Chamber Lifetime Membership honorees.
Womack Printing was a charter member of the Chamber when it formed in 1950. G.B. Greene began working with the company when he was just 14 and is now the current owner. With the exception of years he left the company for military service, Greene has been with Womack Printing his entire professional career.
Hargrove Office Supply first opened in 1953 and has long been dedicated to the Chamber. Mike Hargrove was on hand to accept the Lifetime Membership Award on behalf of the business, which is located on Court Square.