The stars shone on Mineola

By Phil Major
Posted 2/29/24

When Wood County Judge and former Mineola mayor Kevin White was named man of the year at Thursday’s annual chamber banquet, he described his philosophy of service: “Wherever there is a …

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The stars shone on Mineola


When Wood County Judge and former Mineola mayor Kevin White was named man of the year at Thursday’s annual chamber banquet, he described his philosophy of service: “Wherever there is a need, step in and fill it.”

It was a mantra that could have been repeated throughout the evening as the chamber’s “Starry Night” banquet paid homage to the community’s best and brightest.

As Roy Shockey described White’s service, he noted the former educator’s dedication to service, meeting every challenge from teacher to coach to athletic director to administrator. He then transitioned to real estate, served on the city council and then became mayor. He served through the Mineola Caring and Sharing program and through Kiwanis Club, as club president and division lieutenant governor, and also through church leadership as a deacon at First Baptist.

He said he was honored and humbled and paid tribute to his “long suffering, patient wife,” Lori.

Fellow Kiwanian Becky Moore was awarded Woman of the Year.

She too has been active in service to the community.

She is a member of the Mineola Economic Development Corp. board and the Mineola ISD Education Foundation, serves on the chain gang at football games, has also been an integral part of Caring and Sharing, and with Kiwanis has worked with three of its education programs, scholarships, back-to-school supply distribution and selection of the teacher of the year. She also spearheaded the club’s effort that added shade sails to the splash pad at the civic center.

“We love Mineola,” she said, and she and husband Joel enjoy volunteering.

When Roy and Beth Shockey (he a former man of the year) were named to the Humanitarian of the Year award, he said “Giving back is the most natural thing we can think of.”

A shorter list might be one of what the Shockeys are not involved in.

Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, Caring and Sharing, Lake Country Playhouse, Salvation Army (which they helped to revive locally), East Texas Food Bank, Kindness Kottage.

The man of the year has been selected by the Rotary Club since 1954 while the Lions Club has named the woman of the year since 1956. But that club dissolved last year, and the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs made the selection jointly.

The Pilot Club began awarding what is now the humanitarian award in the 1970s, and has undergone a few changes.

The Kiwanians also select the teacher of the year, and this year’s recipient is Lacy Smith, middle school U.S. history teacher.

A Mineola graduate, Smith said teaching American history to middle schoolers is living a dream for her.

“Thank you for letting me do that,” she said.

On hand to help her celebrate were her parents, Gordon and Pam Tiner.

Other nominees were Amy Anderson, second grade reading interventionists at the primary school; fourth grade teacher Brandi Keener at the elementary; and high school science teacher Deborah Armstrong.

The historic preservation award presented by the Mineola Landmark Commission went to Chris and Sarah Butler for their extensive efforts to restore the Beckham Hotel.

Martha Holmes said the couple has poured their time, money and sweat into bringing back the hotel’s historic ambiance, making it a crown jewel in the historic downtown.

The B.R. Short community spirit award was handed to Todd and Susan Witt who have helped spearhead the efforts of the Flint and Steel Coalition and its involvement in numerous projects supporting youth, from upgrades at the skate park to an ever-expanding inventory of murals around the county, clubs for skateboarding, disc golf and gaming and plans for an art center.

Susan Witt said the skate park gives kids who might fall through the cracks a chance to learn how to fall down, and then get up again, and to set goals and then reach those goals.

“It makes a difference in their entire lives,” she said.

The Wayne Collins entrepreneur of the year award went to Chelsey Clair and Jeramy Cruz with the new Dominoes Pizza franchise.

Chamber President Kelsie McGilvray said anytime anyone needs to be fed, Dominoes has stepped in to assist.

Robbie Wallis with the Hidden Pines Venue was named the volunteer of the year.

She has stepped forward anytime the chamber has called upon her.

An example was the table decorations which carried out the Vincent Van Gogh theme with sunflowers.