Community leaders honored by Quitman chamber

By Larry Tucker
Posted 5/12/22

A packed house of over 250 people attended last Thursday’s Quitman Chamber of Commerce annual banquet at Carroll Green Civic Center in Quitman.

The chamber has undergone some changes in …

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Community leaders honored by Quitman chamber


A packed house of over 250 people attended last Thursday’s Quitman Chamber of Commerce annual banquet at Carroll Green Civic Center in Quitman.

The chamber has undergone some changes in the past year. A new executive director, Christine Thomas, was hired to lead the chamber. The chamber offices have also moved from Jim Hogg City Park to share space with the Quitman Development Corporation (QDC) in what formerly housed the Quitman Police Dept. behind city hall.

The evening highlights included awards to various winners voted on by chamber members. The chamber no longer names a “Citizen of the Year” but instead chooses a Woman and Man of the Year in its place.

This year’s Man of the Year went to Scott Dunson of True Value Hardware, who is the outgoing chairman of the chamber board of directors.

“I would like to thank my family for their support and especially my team at the store for all their hard work,” Dunson said. 

The Woman of the Year honor went to Speakeasy Coffee House owner Kelly Kieke. Kieke said she always wanted a place to sip a cup of coffee and visit.

“It’s easy to love somebody over a cup of coffee,” Kieke said. She has always been inspired by her grandmother, the late Nell Box, who always was brewing  coffee at her home and people would come just to visit and sip some coffee.  

The evening’s awards started with Pastor Mike Midkiff of Faith Baptist Church receiving Clergy of the Year recognition. Midkiff came to Quitman from Marshall where he was a minister and was the voice of East Texas Baptist University athletic teams.

Quitman native Dr. Beverly Waddleton received the Medical Professional award. Waddleton is a Quitman High School graduate. She spoke of her former colleague and classmate, Dr. Norman Hicks. In their senior year at QHS, Waddleton and Hicks were both named “Most Likely to Succeed.

“I am thankful for this town to allow me to come back. Not everybody gets to come back home. I am thankful for the other doctors from Quitman who have come back and worked at home,” Waddleton said. “I am thankful for my husband, Dr. John Johnson, and my sons for always supporting me.”

Quitman ISD finance director Kari Wilson was tabbed as the Young Professional for the past year. Quitman High School English teacher Angela Brown took home Educator of the Year honors. Brown has served as assistant principal and assistant superintendent in Quitman as well as having taught in Yantis and was curriculum director at Union Grove.

Quitman Chief of Police John Farmer was named the First Responder of the Year. Farmer replaced Kelly Cole after Cole’s election as Wood County sheriff. Farmer had to rebuild the Quitman department after the departure of several offices who went to work at the sheriff’s department.

Small Business of the Year honors went to Minuteman Ordnance Company located at the northwest corner of the courthouse square. The owners are Mike, Stephanie and David Gonyea. “We love it here and are glad to be in Quitman,” David Gonyea said. 

The award for Large Business of the Year went to Peoples Communications. Representing People’s were Scott Thompson and Lisa Webber.

The Community Spirit honor went to P.J. Kalinek. Along with Ila Wisdom, Kalinek helped organize the Sunday Market in the Park. Wisdom was also honored as the Chamber Board Member of the Year.

United States Congressman Lance Gooden from Terrell spoke briefly at the beginning of the program.

The new chamber board includes Clay Smith, Taylor Webber, Heather Bosclair, James Bracken, Jolene Wallace, McXie  Hurst, Pam Bowdoin, Rebecca Gardner, Illa Wisdom and Christine Thomas.