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Awards handed out at area chamber event

DAILY LEADER / RHONDA DUNAWAY / Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce winners are (seated from left) J.J. Carney, Entrepreneur of the Year; Wilma Smith, Teacher of the Year; Jim Todd and Jack Rhymes, members of the Lions Club, winner of the Civic Award; (standing from left) Steve Clyburn, Lester Bacon, George Carpenter and George Magee, Lions Club members; Dr. Chris Boyd, Outstanding Business Leader of the Year; Tommy Clay, Lions Club member; and T.L. Hill, Industrial Award.

DAILY LEADER / RHONDA DUNAWAY / Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce winners are (seated from left) J.J. Carney, Entrepreneur of the Year; Wilma Smith, Teacher of the Year; Jim Todd and Jack Rhymes, members of the Lions Club, winner of the Civic Award; (standing from left) Steve Clyburn, Lester Bacon, George Carpenter and George Magee, Lions Club members; Dr. Chris Boyd, Outstanding Business Leader of the Year; Tommy Clay, Lions Club member; and T.L. Hill, Industrial Award.

MONTICELLO – The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce honored a number of outstanding citizens Thursday night for their years of community service and business leadership.

“These are the people that bring us jobs, that provide our county with a tax base and provides the products and services that keep our county going,” Mayor Dave Nichols said at the chamber’s annual awards banquet.

Lawrence County’s Miss Hospitality Summer Stephens assisted in the awards ceremonies and served as hostess throughout the evening.

Rusty O’Neal, chamber member and owner of O’Neal Outdoor in Monticello was the master of ceremonies.

Dr. Chris Boyd, who has a dental practice in Monticello, received the first award of the evening for Outstanding Business Leader of the Year.

“He bought the Edmonson practice in 1997,” O’Neal said, “and is being recognized because he is an example of good business practices and his community service.”

Boyd is also a Lions Club member and received an impromptu honor at the banquet when a club member presented him with his 20-year membership pin from the Monticello Lions Club.

The Lions Club also received the chamber’s annual Civic Award for their eye glasses program, a scholarship fund that supports one student annually entering college, the support each year of Miss Hospitality title holders and their other charitable efforts supporting two candidates for Boys State annually and one high school band member annually to the Mississippi Lions All-State Band.

Receiving the Industrial Award for 40 years in business was T.L. Hill, the founder of Monticello Forest Products. O’Neal said Hill was recently recognized by the city.

“On June 4, 1973, T.L. Hill opened Monticello Forest Products,” O’Neal said. “And, this past June 4, the mayor and the city council officially made it T.L. Hill day in Monticello to honor Hill’s outstanding service to our community and celebrating 40 years in business.”

Mr. Hill accepted his award, saying, “Thank you for the honor, for the last 40 years, and I look forward to the next 40 years.”

The chamber Teacher of the Year was Wilma Smith.

“She was the kindergarten teacher in room 6 at Monticello Elementary for 26 years,” O’Neal said. Smith started as an assistant and credited Lawrence County school system for encouraging their teachers and staff to strive for excellence and better themselves through advanced degrees in education.

“I’ve loved my job,” Smith said. “I’ve had the privilege of working with a group of hard working teachers, dedicated to their job. We don’t just believe every child can learn – we believe they will learn.”

O’Neal said the Entrepreneur of the Year had a circulation of 10,000 subscriptions across the state of Mississippi in the first two months of publication for “eat.drink.MISSISSIPPI.” J.J. Carney of Carney Publications LLC and the Lawrence County Press in Monticello were the recipients of the award. The first issue went out in December 2012.

“It’s a travel guide, a cookbook, and it promotes the state of Mississippi,” O’Neal said.

In accepting the award, J.J. Carney said following your passion pays off.

“When you write about something you love it’s easy,” she said. “I love sharing all the great things in Mississippi.”