Society

‘Diamonds’ are a Chamber’s best friend

Parsley, Cookes, RVFD, Gatti’s receive annual banquet awards
By MIKE BROWN
Reporter Editor


Seated (L-R): Joyce Ford, Good Neighbor Award; Peggy and Bill Herbie Vaughan, RVFD, organization of the year; Lee Parsley, citizen Cooke, outstanding citizens (long-standing service); Genie Newton, of the year (also helped accept organization of the year award); Jeff ambassador of the year; standing, Trent Wages, Jerad Alexander, and Rebecca King, Gatti’s Pizza, business of the year. 
Reporter/Mike Brown Seated (L-R): Joyce Ford, Good Neighbor Award; Peggy and Bill Herbie Vaughan, RVFD, organization of the year; Lee Parsley, citizen Cooke, outstanding citizens (long-standing service); Genie Newton, of the year (also helped accept organization of the year award); Jeff ambassador of the year; standing, Trent Wages, Jerad Alexander, and Rebecca King, Gatti’s Pizza, business of the year. Reporter/Mike Brown One of Rockdale’s oldest businesses, and one of its newest business owners, were honored Thursday as the Rockdale Chamber of Commerce celebrated its diamond (60-year) anniversary with its annual banquet.

Bill and Pegg y Cooke of The Rockdale Reporter were named outstanding citizens ( long- standing service) and Lee’s Landing owner Lee Parsley was recognized as citizen of the year as the annual event drew 250 to the junior-high commons.

Rockdale Volunteer Fire Department was selected as organization of the year, Gatti’s Pizza was business of the year, Joyce Ford picked up the Good Neighbor Award and Genie Newton was ambassador of the year.


Banquet crowd of more than 250 rises for standing ovation as Bill and Peggy Cooke accept award for long-standing service. Banquet crowd of more than 250 rises for standing ovation as Bill and Peggy Cooke accept award for long-standing service. AWA R DS— Jacob noted that last year marked The Reporter’s 100 anniversary of being owned by the Cooke family.

“Their business sup- ports every organization in Rockdale,” she said. “They are active in the Tejas Festival, MARC Board, Thursday Reading Club, Crown Garden Club, St. John’s United Methodist, East Side Tutoring, United Way, Rotary Club and playing drums for the Communities in Concert Band.”

She said Parsley, a lifelong member of the Rockdale community, “has always been willing to help, donate or lend a hand wherever there is a need.” She pointed out that Parsley contributed time and resources to fire and drought victims in 2011.


Chamber president Deedra Jacob (podium) looks on as (L-R) outgoing chair Cindy Jerman presents business of the year award to Jeff and Rebecca King of Gatti’s Pizza. Chamber president Deedra Jacob (podium) looks on as (L-R) outgoing chair Cindy Jerman presents business of the year award to Jeff and Rebecca King of Gatti’s Pizza. Jacob praised the Rockdale VFD for a legacy of service dating back to 1872, calling them “men with huge hearts who have given to the community in so many different ways.”

Business of the year Gatti’s Pizza sponsors numerous athletic tourneys, supports Project Graduation, Christmas Roundup and the MARC and Buddy Oney Toy Runs.

Jacob said owners Jeff and Rebecca King started youth basketball and volleyball programs and added, “They make a difference in our community.”

“Good Neighbor” Ford volunteers for every Chamber function and has managed vendors at events for several years, Jacob noted.


Live-wire volunteer Genie Newton, 91, was named the Chamber’s ambassador of the year. Live-wire volunteer Genie Newton, 91, was named the Chamber’s ambassador of the year. Newton, who turned 91 during the year, attends mixers and ribbon cuttings and “is always ready to help with the next project,” Jacob said.

UNITED WAY—Raymon Puente, South Milam Count y Un ite d Way pr e sident , announced the annual U W awards as follows:

• Continuous Support, Rockdale ISD.

• Outstanding Support by indiv iduals, Jay and Bett y Brown.

• W. H. Cooke Award (outstanding support by a business or organization), Luminant.

• Special support, Citizens National Bank and Zachry Construction.

PROGRAM—Magician-inspirational speaker Tom Britton interspersed magic tricks with observations on life, goals and business.


United Way award winners: Seated (L-R), Jay and Betty Brown, individual award; Dr. Howell Wright Jr. Rockdale ISD, continuous support; standing, Bob Wilson, Citizens National Bank, special supporter; Jeff Hooper, Jennifer Strelsky, Luminant, W. H. Cooke Award; Twila Nations, Danny Wilhite, Zachry Construction, special supporter, presenter Raymon Puente, South Milam United Way president. United Way award winners: Seated (L-R), Jay and Betty Brown, individual award; Dr. Howell Wright Jr. Rockdale ISD, continuous support; standing, Bob Wilson, Citizens National Bank, special supporter; Jeff Hooper, Jennifer Strelsky, Luminant, W. H. Cooke Award; Twila Nations, Danny Wilhite, Zachry Construction, special supporter, presenter Raymon Puente, South Milam United Way president. He urged listeners to write down goals and priorities. “Your real magic wand is your pen or pencil,” he said.

KRXT’s Charlie McGregor served as banquet emcee.

Program

Invocation and benediction were by Rev. Jack Chelf, pastor of First Baptist Church.

Donald David of VFW Post 6525 led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Awards were distributed by outgoing chairperson Cindy Jerman.

Jerman was recognized for her service and new chairperson Debra Jackson was also recognized.

Directors

Jackson is chairman, Jerman is past chairman, Mike Walko chairman elect and Bob Wilson is treasurer.

Chamber directors are Bob Stevens, Cyndia Ingram, Dave Phillips, Hunter Matula, Jenny Lehmkuhl, Ford, Mitul Patel, Pat Watson and Michelle Lehmkuhl, Jacob (president) and Denise Brock (executive assistant).

Chris Dyess is the sole retiring director.

Brock, was recognized as the Chamber’s newly- hired executive assistant.

Ambassadors

Chamber ambassador officers are Julia Cardona, president, and Janice King, Jackson, vice-president.

Members are Joyce Dalley, Jackson, Tom Newton, Genie Newton, Billie Noack, Jerry and Wanda Waggoner, Jerman, Homer Mowdy, Gerry Offield, Jeanette Patschke, Renate Rocha, Charlie and Patricia Watson, Betty Backhaus, Alma Faye Bell, Lorena Castillo, Anna Duncum, Ford, Margo Gilless, Margaret Havel and Mario Casarez.


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