Allmand, Clay County Christmas, Pioneer Sentinel honored during banquet

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The Henrietta and Clay County Chamber of Commerce honored three of its own Saturday, present Gene Allmand with the oraganization's Individual of the Year award, the Clay County Christmas Lighting Project, represented by Kay Lynn Gonzenbach, with the Community Beautification award, and The Pioneer Sentinel, represented by Matt Kelton, with Business of the Year.

The Henrietta and Clay County Chamber of Commerce honored three of its own Saturday, presenting Gene Allmand with the oraganization’s Individual of the Year award, the Clay County Christmas Lighting Project, represented by Kay Lynn Gonzenbach, with the Community Beautification award, and The Pioneer Sentinel, represented by Matt Kelton, with Business of the Year.

The Henrietta and Clay County Chamber of Commerce honored three of its own Saturday night during the 86th annual chamber banquet.

Kathy Pierce, 2012 president and newly appointed ex-officio noted that 35 new members joined the chamber of commerce in the past year, recognized outgoing directors and introduced new directors.

“The organization’s strength is shown through its membership,” said Pierce.

Gene Allmand of Henrietta was named 2012 Individual of the Year by the chamber.

Allmand is a longtime member of the chamber and served as a director from 2005-07, during the crucial rebuilding years. Allmand has owned and operated Allmand’s Full Service Station for more than 40 years. It is the last of its kind in Henrietta. Allmand is a member of the Henrietta Lions Club, and can be found cooking sausages on the courthouse lawn during the annual Pioneer Reunion and Rodeo, and collecting eyeglasses for disadvantaged children.

Other nominees for Individual of the year were Hank Bullinger of Henrietta, Tabitha Pierce of Henrietta and Carla Sue Pullen of Bellevue.

The Community Beautification award was given to Clay County, and accepted by Sheriff Kenny Lemons, for the Clay County Christmas Lighting Project, a collaboration between  the county and the chamber of commerce.

The project lights the courthouse and courthouse lawn during the Christmas season, a feat that involves Clay County Commissioners, the sheriff’s office and jail trustees, and county maintenance man Kinneth Sluder. The Clay County Christmas Lighting Project was initiated by Kay Lynn Gonzenbach during her term as chamber president in 2011.

Nominees for the award included The Corner Antique Store, the O’Malley Arms building and the former Browse Shop building, now owned by Trinity Air Conditioning.

Business of the Year was awarded to The Clay County Pioneer Sentinel.

The Pioneer Sentinel began as an online news source for Henrietta and Clay County in September 2011, and in one year reached 100,000 hits. Matt Kelton, owner and editor, served on the chamber board of directors from 2009-2011. Each year, Kelton designs the chamber’s Pioneer Reunion button, and various advertising throughout the year. The Pioneer Sentinel hosts an annual photo contest, the winner of which is featured on the cover of the Clay County Outdoors magazine.

Other nominees were ClayTex Trophies and The Pecan Shed.

Recognized as retiring chamber directors were Melissa Roberson of the First National Bank of Byers, Gonzenbach, Tonya Gilmore of Wells Fargo, Stephen Ross of Trinity Air conditioning and Sharon Tucker of Atmos Energy. Linda Burleson of Clay County Memorial Hospital also is an outgoing director, but will take on an advisory role.

Directors returning for 2013 are President Randy Schaffner of Stewart Title, First Vice President Amy Payne of Adult Protective Services, Second Vice President Chris Dowd, pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Henrietta, Treasurer Kelley Bloodworth of the City of Henrietta, Ex-Officio Kathy Pierce of Pierce Sales, Advisor Linda Burleson, Duaine Covert of RoadTrac, Inc., and Lisa Swenson of Clay County Memorial Hospital.

New directors are Deborah Clark of Birdwell-Clark Ranch, K.J. Davidson of Thirty-One Gifts, Brent Durham of Durham Properties, Amy Ellis of the First National Bank of Byers, Lori Riggins of Wells Fargo Bank and Michael Russell of Davis Funeral Home.

Tumbleweed Smith, noted radio host, oral historian and folklorist, gave a colorful keynote speech which included recordings of some of the states best known storytellers.

For the first time, the event also featured a live auction for a two-night getaway, as well as a silent auction.

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Pioneer Sentinel

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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