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Cleburne chamber honors businesses during annual banquet
01/23/2016 - By Jessica Pounds/features@trcle.com - Cleburne Times Review
Tom O'Neil

Cleburne Chamber of Commerce 2015 board Chairman Tom O’Neil gives his last remarks to his outgoing directors at the 97th annual chamber banquet on Thursday night.

Highlighting some of the successes of 2015, the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce honored several members for their outstanding service to the community.

Eric Dobransky, who will serve as the 2016 chairman of the board, said these are exciting times for Cleburne and its “electrifying businesses.”

“Let me just first say it is quite an honor to come in and be the chair for the chamber this year,” Dobransky said. “I think you would agree with me, that it is a great time to be part of the Cleburne community. I have been here now going on six years, and it is amazing the amount of change I have seen in the last couple of years.”

Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain said he wanted to thank all of the small business owners for their efforts in 2015.

“I told a reporter some two years ago that Cleburne was North Texas’ best kept secret, and I’m afraid to tell you the secret has gotten out,” Cain said. “There is a line in one of my favorite movies I think sums up 2016 for Cleburne, Texas.

“It says, ‘If you build it, he will come.’ 2016 is going to be the year we build Cleburne and bring us back as a leader not only in North Texas, but all of Texas. This is just the beginning.”

Citizen of the Year award

The Citizen of the Year award was presented by last year’s winner, Peter Svendsen, to Johnson County Heritage Foundation Chairman David Murdoch.

“The gentleman that we honor tonight has been giving back to this community for many years,” Svendsen said. “The words gentleman and visionary come to mind when describing the 2015 Citizen of the Year. He is a rancher, Bible scholar, author and bass fisherman in his spare time.

“This gentleman is known thoughout our community as pairing a purpose with a plan and seeing it through to the end. The Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum and the newly opened Big Bear Native Indian Museum were just a dream when he and others worked diligently to complete the projects and bring visitors from all over world.

“Habitat for Humanity, the Cleburne Rotary Club, Johnson County Heritage Foundation and Johnson County Historical Commission are but a few of the organizations that he has participated in.”

Murdoch said he was at a loss for words, but wanted to invite the community to see the latest happenings at the museum.

“We have a great chamber and they are always promoting the museum,” Murdoch said. “If you haven’t had the chance to get out there, we now have a world class native museum right here in Cleburne.

“We now have 21 exhibits out at the museum and we are always growing. If you are ever looking for something to do, we always need docents to come out and help us. We have people from all over the world coming out to see the museum.”

Young Business

Professional award

The Young Business Professional award was presented by 2013 winner Amber Witte, to Dugger Electric co-owner Jeremy Longoria.

“Before becoming a partner in a local business, he owned his own company,” Witte said. “His commitment to service and quality work is something to be proud of. Hard work and dedication define who he is and being successful has never changed him.

“He has always stayed true to his community; he is a loyal member of his church and has served in the AWANAs program for 16 years. He serves on several boards in our community as well as works with different organizations such as Christmas In Action, 6Stones, Meals-On-Wheels [of Johnson and Ellis Counties,] Cleburne Lions Club, Cleburne Christian Academy, Relay For Life [of Johnson County,] Zonta Club of Johnson County, Camp Fire of [Johnson County] and the Game Warden’s Officer’s Association.

“He is always willing to help friends, neighbors and his community wherever and whenever he can. He is committed to helping the elderly by working for them at no charge; his heart and passion know no limits.”

Longoria said he couldn’t really believe he was given the award.

“I’m just doing what I’m doing,” Longoria said.


Service award

Last year, the Community Service award was presented to the Johnson County Christian Lodge. Bill Wissore, who accepted the award, presented this year’s award to the Marti Foundation.

“The Marti Foundation is a nonprofit that was started in 1988 by George and Jo Marti to provide educational scholarships to graduates of Johnson County Schools,” Wissore said. “After Jo passed away, George carried on the tradition that he and his wife had begun.

“And now, still within the family, their daughter Michelle, along with a board of directors, carries on the tradition of making a difference in the education of Johnson County students —the foundation currently has approximately 226 students under scholarship and has assisted over 500 students over the past 26 years.”

“Thank you so very much for this honor, we appreciate it,” Marti said. “I have the best board in the world.”

ATHENA award

The ATHENA award was presented by last year’s winner Carolyn Smith, to Barbara Yoder.

“The outstanding woman we recognize tonight with the 2015 ATHENA award goes over and above in so many areas of community service that it is hard to list them all,” Smith said. “She is a faithful advocate for CASA being a caseworker, board member and fundraiser for many years.

“Family Crisis Center of Johnson County has also benefitted from her tireless service as she has been a board member and president the last two years. Many individuals who can’t afford legal advice have benefitted from her time spent volunteering in the Legal Aid Clinic. She has been the chairman for Relay For Life [of Johnson County] the last two years and supports Camp Fire with fundraising through their Bark For Life event.

“Although adult education is her job, she goes way beyond her responsibilities to help the GED and English as a second language students. She also reads books to school children and it is not surprising to see her with a paintbrush in hand working for Christmas In Action.”

Award of recognition

Tom O’Neil, 2015 chamber chairman, presented John Patrick of Patrick’s Cleburne Floral a plaque for reaching 100 years of business.

“In 1919 when the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce was established, one of the charter members was John L. Joiner of Cleburne Floral Company,” O’Neil said. “Cleburne Floral Company is now Patrick’s Cleburne Floral and is owned by John L. Joiner’s grandson, John Patrick.

“The company has remained in the family for four generations, with John’s daughter, Tara, now being involved in the business. This year marks Cleburne Floral’s 100th year in business as well as 97 years of being a member of the chamber.”

Patrick said his grandfather would be so honored for the recognition.

“Thank you very much for this,” Patrick said.

Other awards

The Wall of Fame award was presented by Dena Bartlett to Terry Bay for his dedication to the mission of promoting business and community for Cleburne.

Chamber Ambassador Bettye Henderson presented the ambassador team award to Jay Cornils’ team for accumulating 887 points. She also presented an individual award to Judy Patton for bringing in 218 points.

April Chesshir, general manager of Liberty Event Center, won the dessert challenge with her jazzed up banana pudding.
On the web: www.CleburneTimesReview.com

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