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Businesses, individuals nominated for top chamber awards


The Henrietta and Clay County Chamber of Commerce members are in the process of selecting the organization’s Business of the Year, Individual of the Year and Outstanding Community Beautification project for calendar year 2012.

Ballots are due Dec. 31. Award recipients will be recognized during the annual chamber of commerce banquet on Jan. 26.

The following nominees are listed as they appear on the ballot.

2012 Outstanding Business or Business Person of the Year

The Clay County Pioneer Sentinel — Matt Kelton is owner, editor, and publisher of Clay County’s first and only online news source. The Sentinel’s ability to provide 24-7 news coverage is an anomaly for rural areas such as Clay County. Matt served on the Board of Directors from 2009-2011, but his volunteer efforts did not cease with his board retirement. Without Matt’s creative vision, the Chamber’s program of producing Pioneer Reunion buttons that depict each year’s theme would not be the same. His deep Clay County roots offer insight to each year’s design that make the buttons so loved. Matt also donates uncountable hours throughout the year by designing marketing materials for the Chamber’s publicity and promotional efforts. From advertising pieces, to designing logos for events, and creating our beautiful, new Chamber folder design, Matt delivers the professional look we aim to achieve and does it all for free. Matt is also a contributing editor to the Clay County Outdoors magazine and sponsors the photo-contest that graces the front cover of the magazine each year. He and his wife, Sasha, are always available and willing when asked for donations to Turkey Fest, the Annual Banquet and Clay County Christmas.

ClayTex Trophies — Established in 1975, this long-standing Clay County business is the epitome of a family-run operation that provides a multitude of jobs for our community. ClayTex Trophies is one of few manufacturing plants that puts Henrietta on the map of commerce. Their ability to serve local, state, national, and international clients brings much needed recognition to our corner of the woods. Their products’ recipients range from Little League Teams to the NFL. Headed by President, Jack Ellis, and with other family members, Connie Ellis, Brady Ellis, and John Belcher, they offer a unique service and product we can all be proud of, including the annual Turkey Fest award plaques and the plaques awarded at the Chamber banquet. Brady Ellis volunteered his graphic design talents to the Clay County Outdoor magazine in 2012 and Connie Ellis always donates her Cowboy Memories specialty items to the Turkey Fest silent auction. ClayTex was honored as the BBB’s 2012 Torch Award recipient for a medium-sized company (11-49 employees).

The Pecan Shed — Clay County family-owned businesses continued to make strides in 2012, with The Pecan Shed leading the pack. The Montz family started their operation more than 30 years ago with 220 acres and 8,000 pecan trees in Charlie. Their home office was actually located in their “home” and they sold their product out of a literal “shed”. Today, the orchard, run by Tim and Jake Montz, has increased to 800 acres and more than 27,000 trees; and the “shed” is now a huge plant, warehouse, and storefront managed by Jill Montz. Their products range from shelled and unshelled pecans to pecan-flavored coffee, with everything in between. In 2013, Clay County will become the new home of an additional Pecan Shed location on Hwy. 287, catering to both local and traveling clientele`. The Pecan Shed was also the recipient of the Wichita Falls Chamber’s 2012 Family-Owned Business of the Year. The Montz family is an avid supporter of Turkey Fest and donates merchandise or funding for every chamber event.

2012 Individual of the Year

Gene Allmand — The grandfather of full service, Gene has been so much more to our community than just a place to fill up with gasoline. Even though his station and garage has been serving locals for more than 40 years, it is another type of “service” that he so generously gives that deems recognition. As a Lion’s Club member for numerous years, Gene has held just about every office available and found time in his busy schedule to volunteer for everything from cooking sausage at Pioneer Reunion to collecting eyeglasses for disadvantaged children. Any local farmer can tell you that he has worked after hours to help fix a flat tractor tire in the middle of plowing season or extended credit to anyone who just didn’t quite have enough to get their car fixed. Gene also served the business community as a chamber director from 2005-07; these were crucial re-building years for the Chamber and gave a solid foundation for where we are today. In a world where “mom and pop” businesses and “full-service stations” are becoming extinct, Gene has kept his doors open and the residents of Clay County has benefitted from his long-lasting service and his big-hearted generosity. Many have said that Gene probably gave away more gas than he ever sold, but he’s given so much more than that.

Hank Bullinger — A native-born Clay Countian, Hank is consistently finding ways to give back to the community that raised him. Time, being everyone’s most valuable asset, is always given first by Hank to several organizations that need it most. Without Hank’s time, the Kiwanis Club and the Cub Scouts would certainly suffer. As the father of four, himself, Hank always makes time for other kids in the county by serving as a volunteer in sports, hosting outdoor outings, but most importantly, serving as a positive role model to our youth. His church is dear to his heart, and you will often find his entire family there donating their time and labor to serve its needs. As a past Chamber President, Hank was a proponent of bringing life back into the Chamber and leading the directors to address long-ignored issues that prevented its growth. Today, due in part to his leadership, the Chamber is as strong and vital as ever before. Not to mention, without his volunteerism, the Chamber marquee on the Courthouse Square would be a blank slate. A generous heart is also one of Hank’s best assets; be it the Volunteer Fire Department, the Jail Museum, Imagination Library, or Henrietta ISD, just to name a few, all can count on Hank’s benevolence and support in their endeavors.

Tabitha Pierce Since moving to Clay County only a few years ago, Tabitha has engrossed her time and creative vision into developing fresh ideas to promote Clay County. As the creator of the Chamber’s first printed publication, Tabitha gave sweat and tears as the editor, publisher, and primary graphic designer of Clay County Outdoors – first edition. She is currently serving as advisor, layout designer, and graphic artist for year two of the magazine, and donates all of her time, materials, and resources to the Chamber to fulfill this new venture. Tabitha was also instrumental in updating and refreshing the Chamber’s interactive website. The new design and host ended up saving the Chamber thousands in annual expenses. In 2011, Tabitha took Turkey Fest to the next level by pursuing regional advertising for the event, designed professional media and sponsorship guides, and created a new logo; in 2012, she went a step further by suggesting an actual Festival experience to get the community involved. Turkey Fest produced it’s largest profit to-date in 2012, and a large amount of credit is due to Tabitha. As a new mommy to the fourth generation of Pierces in Clay County, Tabitha somehow manages to balance family, work, and volunteerism and keep her sanity.

Carla Sue Pullen — This woman is a one-of-a-kind Texas tornado; there is always a dust storm in her tracks as she multi-tasks from one end of the county to the other. There is no telling how many non-profit and educational organizations she either holds an office or volunteers for, but Clay County is a huge recipient of her time, talents, and donations. As a retired director from the Chamber, she is still the go-to person for several annual events, including Turkey Fest, the Christmas parade chairperson, and the Ag Committee. It’s not beyond her to don an elf costume to visit the county elementary schools to extend a personal invitation to come meet Santa at the parade. Pioneer Reunion would be lost without her time and guidance heading up the rodeo queen competition, as a parade volunteer, and serving as First Vice-President of the Pioneer Association. Carla Sue and her family, along with the Bellevue VFD, were instrumental in the memorial drive that built Bellevue’s children’s park, The Eagle’s Nest, in her grandson’s, Anthony Moss, memory. In this vein, Carla Sue was able to turn a tragedy into something positive, as is what she does with everything she touches.

2012 Outstanding Community Beautification

The Outstanding Community Beautification award was started last year as a way to recognize the work of business owners, civic clubs and individuals in improving the visual appearance of towns and communities in Clay County.

Nominees for the 2012 award are:

  • Clay County Courthouse Christmas Lighting project, Clay County Commissioners, Sheriff and trustees
  • The Corner Antique Store, 122 S. Bridge St., Henrietta
  • O’Malley Arms, 121 W. Gilbert St., Henrietta
  • Trinity Air Conditioning, 107 E. Omega St., Henrietta

About Author

The Pioneer Sentinel is an online newspaper designed to deliver the news of Clay County, Texas, in a concise and community-friendly format.

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