[portfolio_slideshow]By Matt Kelton Pioneer Sentinel
Atmos Energy partnered with the Henrietta and Clay County Chamber of Commerce Wednesday and Thursday in distributing a free dictionary to every third grader in the county.
As part of The Dictionary Project, a national organization, the local program began in June 2011 with a donation to the chamber of commerce of $500 from Atmos. With the funds, the chamber of commerce ordered 288 paperback student dictionaries.
Atmos representatives Randy West of Bowie and Sharon Tucker of Petrolia, Kenny Covington and Stacy Blevins, both of Henrietta, and members of the chamber board of directors handed out 140 dictionaries to all five county schools over the two-day period.
With 144 books remaining, the program will continue next.
Board members assisting were Kelley Bloodworth, Tanya Gilmore, Linda Burleson, Matt Kelton, Cathy Pierce, Carla Pullen and Chamber Secretary Betty Ellesworth.
The group visited Henrietta, Byers and Petrolia on Wednesday, and Midway and Bellevue Thursday.
In Byers, second and fourth graders, which share a classroom with the third grade, also received a dictionary.
The Dictionary Project was created in 1995 as a way to provide dictionaries to students in three North Carolina counties. Since then, it has spread to every state in the nation. From June 2009 though June 2010, some 24 percent of third graders, or 83,172 students, in Texas received dictionaries through the project. In some states, such as Delaware, Montana and Utah, the program has reached 100 percent.