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Austin Citizen of the Year

By Staff, 04/27/18 10:45 AM

PRESCOTT – Howard Austin was named Citizen of the Year at the Annual Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce Banquet Thursday night.

The cafeteria at Prescott High School was packed as the banquet was sold out. Once again, the event featured a live and silent auction, with the 10 items on the live auction bringing $2,910. Percy Malone bought tickets to the Lion” King” musical and promptly gave them back to be sold again. He followed this by purchasing a rocking chair and giving it back. Not to be outdone, State Sen. Bruce Maloch bought the chair next and also gave it back to be auctioned off a third time, to the delight of the crowd. The final buyer of the chair flatly declared they were going to keep it. Nevada County Sheriff Danny Martin donated a Savage .308 that was raffled off.

Brent Talley, former State Representative for the area, was the keynote speaker. He talked about how his love for agriculture has only strengthened over the years and how he’s thankful he was raised by a family in a “farm fresh” environment.

Agriculture, he said, is big business in Arkansas, bringing in $16 billion annually. Arkansas, he added, is first in the nation in rice production and third in cotton production. Some 18.8 million acres are dedicated to forestry, with 66,000 acres in Nevada County farmland. The cattle industry, he continued, brings in $46 million a year for the county.  Agriculture ties in with the economy, he said.

Farmers’ markets, he said are great resources as it gives farmers a place to sell their produce and the public somewhere to buy farm fresh vegetables to provide nutritious meals for their families. He encouraged everyone to utilize the farmer’s market, reminding the audience the kickoff for the local market is May 4 (at 7:30 a.m.).

“Tonight, we are investing in the future,” Talley said, “teaching lifelong skills with farm and ranch work shows we’re helping our young people.”

Malone followed to present a check for $50,000 to the Youth Education and Agriculture program being sponsored by the Nevada County Extension Office. Darren Neal, county agent, said he’s been working with the Prescott School District to revitalize the school’s agriculture farm, which has about 10 acres behind the bus barn. This, he said, will give young people a chance they wouldn’t otherwise have as the plan is to buy livestock for students to raise and show, with the program providing the food as well. The program has applied for 501(c)3 status and when this is approved, will begin fundraising efforts. At this time, a barn is being built to house the animals.

Greg and Marcell Wilson were recognized as the 2017 Farm Family of the Year.

Business of the Year award went to All Care pharmacy, which opened in Prescott in 1976 with the goal of providing good service for a good price and now serves 2,400 people a month in the county.

Malone, in accepting the award, said it’s the people who make All Care what it is.

Kathy Grant was named educator of the year for the Nevada School District, with Jordan Sanders the student of the year.

For the PSD, Jessica Gutierrez was tabbed educator of the year, with Cade Haynie the student of the year.

Organization of the Year went to Food Share Arkansas, which started in a small building on Hwy. 371 and, with an idea from Frank Henson, grew with a larger building built on Main St., which allowed it to increase its service. Now, Food Share serves between 550-725 people a month.

The only one surprised at who was named Treasure of Gold, was the recipient – Red McCain.

Hometown Hero, normally going to one person, went to a group with five members of the Arkansas National Guard receiving plaques. They were: Blake Hopkins, Chase Carter, Paul Jones, Cole Hillery and Justin Barlow.

The finale came with the Citizen of the Year, who came to Prescott in 1964 and is said to support the community with a smile. A list of Austin’s accomplishments was read off. They included being on the board of Macedonia Baptist Church, a member of the Prescott City Council, 4-H, Day Services and Leadership Nevada County.

Austin said it was a surprise to be so honored and he believes in doing what he can for the community.

Jamie Hillery, executive director of the Chamber, congratulated the winners, thanking everyone for their support, saying it took a lot of hard work and planning to pull the banquet together.