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Honorees make us all winners

From the publisher's desk
by: Keith Whitson
One thing I enjoy about living in a small community is being able to see the good that people do, which might otherwise go unnoticed in a big city. Of course, there are always those who only concentrate on the bad. Some even let their focus on finding fault rule and control their lives to the point of making them miserable.
But, I prefer to look for the good. That is why I enjoy being part of this newspaper’s Record of Service Awards. This was my second year to continue the tradition and honor a few of the many remarkable people in our county.
Each year, our readers submit entries for the categories of Business, Education, Emergency Services, Health Care, Service to the Community and Public Service. I am sure that all entries are worthy, but the fact that readers care enough to acknowledge someone is an honor in itself. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could stand out as a worthy individual in the eyes of someone?
As the submissions start to pour in, I am reminded of those that I know and how deserving they are. But I am also introduced to some local heroes that have slipped under the radar of recognition. I am reminded of how many wonderful people we are blessed to live around that give so much.
This year our Business winner was one of those. Kevin Horton, of Liberty Lumber, was in my graduating class from high school. Kevin learned the responsibilities of running a business long before I did. Kevin also understands the struggles of making a business profitable in a small community.
What you might not know about Kevin is that he has a very generous heart. He has helped with many school and community projects with no recognition. In fact, he avoids any spotlight on himself. It is rare in today’s society that you get many to help like Kevin, but it is even rarer that they will do it for no honor.
This year’s award for Education went to Evangeline Hurter. Evangeline is the new UCHS band director. She is new to Unicoi County, coming in at a difficult time in the music department and making a difference.
It would have been easy for her to turn her back on the task she found ahead, but she knew she could make a difference. She has certainly done that with the lives of many students and with honors received.
Jimmy Erwin received the award in Emergency Services. Jimmy has been involved in so many worthwhile causes for the county. In fact, one recommendation letter read “He has dedicated himself to the community he serves, especially the children of Unicoi County.”
You may know him best for the local D.A.R.E. program but I dare you to find someone who has given as much so freely.
Dr. James Goss received the honor for Health Care. He is currently a partner with Appalachian Orthopedic Associates.
Although I have never needed his services, I was very impressed by his credentials and desire to share them with our county. No doubt he could have plenty of patients in a larger city, but chose to devote himself to the needs here, including being on the side lines of sporting events and offering physicals for middle school, high school and ROTC students.
There aren’t many people in the county who haven’t heard of Helen Edwards. That is why she received recognition for Service to the Community.
If there is anything that needs to be done, you can count on Helen to volunteer. I don’t know where she gets her energy but it seems she gets renewed energy from just volunteering. She cooks for many events, drives people to where they need to go, she cooks, helps with the Ramp Festival, she cooks, visits the sick, she cooks delicious dishes and helped the Salvation Army. Did I mention that she is a good cook?
The next honoree is also well known in the county. Sarah Bailey received the honor for Public Service. We all know Sarah for her role as administrator of elections. She makes sure the office is run accurately and all of the state and government stipulations are followed exactly. It is no easy job and certainly not one that just anybody could step into without much training.
But, her community dedication doesn’t stop there. Sarah has been very active in the Erwin Kiwanis Club, including president. She is a member of the YMCA Board of Directors, a volunteer for Relay For Life and very active in her church.
There was still one other honor bestowed at last Thursday’s dinner and it was upon me. I had the honor of standing over such an amazing crowd and describing each of these recipients. I had a vantage point that no one else did as I watched the surprise and humbleness of each recipient. You see, none of them recognize themselves as incredible and to me that makes them even more deserving.