Chamber of Commerce honors top citizens
By Victor Parkins
And the winners are…
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The annual Milan Chamber of Commerce was held last Thursday night honored the top citizens from 2016. Winners from previous year’s paid tribute to the honoree’s, and friends and family members poured in the meeting room to surprise the unsuspecting beneficiary of each award.
The theme of the event was Boots & Bling and entertainment was provided by musicians Shay Flippin and Kyle Stout before a capacity crowd.
Chamber President Brenda Black welcomed the packed house donning an all black outfit highlighted with high-heel boots and plenty of bling.
Mayor B.W. Beasley also gave remarks and said great things are in store for Milan in 2017.
“Because of the leadership and vision of the people in this room tonight, I’m very excited about the future,” said Beasley. “Milan is on the move,” he exclaimed.
The mayor congratulated Chamber Executive Assistant Linda West for 29 years of service, and patronized Director Julie Allen Burke for her leadership not only in Milan but across the county.
After a catered steak dinner from McCaslin’s of Milan, honorees were named for Educator of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Woman of the Year and Man of the Year.
EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR
Milan Elementary first grade teacher Jane Fields presented the 2016 Educator of the Year award to MHS Interim Principal Greg Scott.
Ironically, Ms. Fields taught Scott 32 years ago.
“It is my honor to present this award to a true man of God,” she said. “That is illustrated in his words, demeanor and actions. He is a Deacon at First Baptist Church of Humboldt and is a man of great integrity that lives his life for others. He is well respected by his peers and a devout husband and father to his wife Jacklyn and four children,” she said.
Scott has been in education since 2001 working his way from up teacher and coach to athletic director and assistant principal. He is a member of the TSSAA Board of Controls and was just named TSSAA Athletic Director of the Year for the entire state of Tennessee.
Scott said he was truly honored to receive the award.
“What an honor it is to receive this award from Ms. Fields,” he said as family, friends and co-workers gathered to congratulate him. “I was raised here and had a litany of great teachers. I owe a great deal to them and my family-who always taught me to just do the right thing,” he said.
Scott credited others for helping him get where he is today.
“If you’re honoring me, you’re honoring the entire staff at Milan High School and the awesome kids that we’re trying to educate and produce,” he noted. “There are years and years to tradition and pride in Milan and lot of hard work that started long before me. Thank you,” he said.
In another surprise move, MSSD Director of Schools Jonathon Criswell claimed the podium and announced that Mr. Scott will become Principal of Milan High School, effective immediately.
STEVE MARSH FORD PINNACLE AWARD
2015 Steve Marsh Pinnacle Award winner Jon Hargett of Pavement Restorations, Inc. presented the 2016 honor to Corner Boutique owners Rhonda Moubray and Jeff Newbill.
The award is in honor of the late Steve Marsh and recognizes the top small business in Milan.
Hargett said The Corner Boutique was chosen for the award because of their financial soundness, business growth, employee and customer satisfaction and community involvement.
“Our recipient has grown its customer base from 500 to 5,000 in just five years,” said Hargett. “They have grown from a 750 sq. ft. facility to over 3,000 sq. ft.
The Corner Boutique are active supporters of the Dream Center, American Cancer Society, Runway for a Cure and St. Jude.
“They care deeply about the customers, their employees and this community,” Hargett added.
Ms. Moubray praised a solid parenting foundation and dedicated employees helped her business garner the award.
“My dad once told me that you can’t have a successful business unless you do it yourself,” she said with her parents sitting close by. “And dad told me that the greatest honor a person could get was to be recognized by your peers,” she said.
“It’s exciting to see how the Lord has blessed The Corner Boutique and I’m thankful everyday for what He has done for us,” she noted. “The people of Milan really embraced us and that has led to a customer base across Gibson County and West Tennessee.”
Moubray also thanked her business partner Jeff Newbill, who stood with her at the podium, and praised her staff of ladies that makes shopping in her store a great experience.
WOMAN OF THE YEAR
2014 and ’15 Women of the Year Cheri Childress and Francis Wadley presented the 2016 award to Brandi Kemp.
Ms. Childress described Ms. Kemp as selfless, generous, kind, compassionate, ardent, empowering, wise, thoughtful, strong and creative.
A woman that wants, wishes and makes things happen.
“She is a woman that gives professionally, socially, civic and personally,” said Childress.
Childress said Kemp was instrumental in leading the following campaigns; Standup anti-bullying, WRAP (Wo/Men’s Resource and Rape Assistance Program), Ugly Christmas Sweater to benefit Friends of Gibson County Animals, Beast Cancer Awareness, I Geek Library, and more.
Ms. Childress said one of Kemp’s most proud and successful goodwill ventures is the annual Zombie Walk that provides food for hungry kids through the Feeding America Backpack Program.
Over 500 patrons have participated in the Zombie Walk and over 5,000 cans of food have been donated to the cause.
Kemp, a professional photographer by trade, is also a members of the ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’ bereavement photography team.
‘Now I law me down to sleep’ is a an organization of photographers that stand on call to provide photographs to parents who have lost a newborn. In most cases, the program provides the only photos those parents will ever have of their children.
The unsuspecting Kemp accepted the award quietly.
“This is really a cool honor and it’s awesome standing up here,” she said. “I really appreciate it.”
MAN OF THE YEAR
The 2012 Man of the Year Victor Parkins teamed up with ’15 winner Tody Hunley to honor Milan very own Santa Claus, Joe McMinn.
McMinn, a life-long resident of Milan loves to come to the aid of community organizations. Parkins used the words “generous, unselfish, compassionate and energetic” to describe Mr. McMinn, who has worked at Ceco Door since 1976.
While McMinn is active in his church and other civic and community organizations, he is best known for brining joy and smiles to anyone that he can during Christmas.
Each fall McMinn grows a long, white beard and suits up in a bulky Santa suit to visit with patients in nursing homes, assisted living centers, churches, schools and more. Those visits started some 35 years ago and continue to grow today.
About four years ago, McMinn teamed up with the Milan Fire Department Toy Drive and has since helped raise over $10,000 and served well over 200 children.
The helps the police department with their annual Shop with a Cop program as well.
“Our honoree’s love for this community comes straight from the heart,” said Parkins. “He loves Christmas and wants everyone to not only experience the magic of Christmas—but he makes sure they all know the true reason for the season is his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
McMinn was humbled by the award and uncharacteristically had little to say.
“I am never a man without words but I absolutely have no words right now,” said a shocked McMinn. “The Lord and my family have blessed me beyond measure. Thank you. That’s all I have to say,” he said.