Members of the Crossett Area Chamber of Commerce gathered Tuesday, April 27 for the Chamber’s 69th annual awards banquet.
The award ceremonies ended with an emotional tribute from outgoing Chamber President Howard Beaty Jr. to former Mayor Marshall Scott McCormick, who was posthumously named Man of the Year. The honor was bestowed on the late mayor one year and 11 days after his death while still in office.
McCormick was in his 42nd year of service to the people of Crossett. He’d worked as a police officer, investigator and captain for the Crossett Police Department from 1978 to 1998, at which time he was elected mayor. He was re-elected to five additional consecutive terms.
“His honorable service also extended outside the borders of our community,” Beaty said. “A few other hats he wore included being an ambassador for Crossett for 20 years as a member of the Arkansas Municipal League’s Executive Committee. Mayor Scott McCormick was more than the leader of our city, he was a friend.”
McCormick’s sister, Stacy Johnson, accepted the award on behalf of his family.
The Chamber’s executive director, Mandy White, was named the Woman of the Year.
White has been the chamber director since August 2018, and has worked as a community advocate since returning to her hometown. In addition to her job, White is a member of a number of community organizations, including the Crossett Kiwanis Club, Crossett Rotary Club, Crossett School Education Alliance, Food Pantry Board of Directors as well as the Southeast Arkansas tourism board.
“Her love for Crossett and our community is evident in everything she takes part in,” Beaty said. “From helping coordinate community clean up days to meeting with new and existing business owners to assist them with growing and prospering here in Crossett. There is no doubt our recipient has a heart for serving.”
The Spirit Award, which is given to honor someone who embodies the “True Spirit” of Crossett, went to the Crossett Streets and Sanitation Department.
White said the embodiment of the Spirit is, “an optimistic outlook that views each event or activity as an opportunity to shine; it’s an opportunity to shout, ‘I’m from Crossett and I’m proud of it.’”
The streets and sanitation department embodies and emulates true Crossett pride, she said.
“Without fail, they have risen to every challenge throughout this last year, embracing the mission to clean up our home town,” White said. “They have gone above and beyond cleaning areas of debris that have festered and evolved into the most unsavory of environments.”
The Crossett Economic Development Foundation’s Executive Director Mike Smith was named the Ambassador of the Year. The ambassador award is given to a person the Chamber sees as someone who serves and builds new relationships in the region and state. The ambassador is an advocate for Crossett, bringing positive attention from outsiders to the community.
“(Smith) has dedicated himself to enrich the lives of others through economic development,” White said when presenting the award. “It is through his leadership and vision that business and industry continue to come our way. Whoever you are and wherever you are in the world, when you meet this man you will know, without a doubt, that he is from Crossett and he loves his community.”
Amanda Friedman received the Chamber’s Volunteer of the Year Award.
White said Friedman has been “a huge asset” since she moved to Crossett five years ago.
“It is her valuable and selfless commitment, dedication and contributions that make her stand out,” White said.
“She is a friend, a mentor, and a leader. Her love for Crossett is like none other — and she reminded us of that with her full-page ad in the TOP magazine that said, ‘I love this town!’ She has spent countless hours planting herself in this community, whether it be the Chamber board, Rotary, Beta Sigma Phi, Salvation Army, Community Scholarship Board.”
Business of the Year — which goes to businesses or owners who have shown creativity in their business and faced and solved challenges and problems in business while showing community awareness and involvement — was awarded to Dianna and Dale Martinie of Premier Realty.
Dianna Martinie has been selling properties in the Crossett area since 2014, and purchased Premier Realty Group in 2018.
“You might see her putting signs in the yards of either businesses or homes in Crossett, crowning them with Yard or Business of The Month,” White said. “She has dedicated countless hours to a number of organizations including seven years with Junior Auxiliary, where she was the past president, the Chamber Board of Directors, where she is currently the vice-president, and is active in several other charitable organizations.”
The Chamber Director of the Year award, which is given by the Chamber’s board to the board member they feel has gone above and beyond, went to Kerstin Mondragon. “In (her) short time on our board she has been a great asset,” White said. “Serving on any committee that needs her help and showing up to serve at numerous events…It is that ‘what can I do to help’ attitude that singled her out.”
In his closing remarks before Beaty handed over the reins of the Chamber board presidency to incoming President Venda White, Beaty said that the people who work to make things happen in a community rarely get the thanks they deserve.
“Tonight is the night to celebrate those who serve,” he said. “These events in our community do not happen by chance.”
Beaty challenged those present to not only stay involved but to get more involved in the life of their city.
“Take every opportunity to take a role in the community,” he said.