Whitehouse Chamber Honors Businesses, Teachers
By KELLY GOOCH
WHITEHOUSE -- Mamaw's Fried Pies, Brent Conaway, Whitehouse ISD teachers and the newly renovated Whitehouse High School football stadium were honored at the Whitehouse Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet Tuesday night.
Mike Peterson, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said about 150 people attended the 24th annual event at Whitehouse High School and this year's banquet was even "bigger and better" than last year's.
"(The purpose of the event is) to bring some attention to those folks who are doing a good job and leading in the community," he said.
Attendees began their evening with a dinner at tables with patriotic-themed centerpieces.
Later, radio personality Ray Stone, host of the "Cowboys Football Report," gave a presentation and spoke to attendees about the importance of shopping in Whitehouse instead of a neighboring town like Tyler.
"Shop, shop shop (in) Whitehouse," Stone told the audience. "Pick up that 17 percent that you're taking to Tyler ... and watch the explosion (when you spend the money in Whitehouse instead)."
He said when the hometown supports businesses in their community, real estate values increase and it helps public schools, among other things.
Although shopping in Whitehouse was his main topic, Stone also talked about the Dallas Cowboys and former Cowboys coach Tom Landry.
"This is the finest man or human being that I have met in my lifetime," he said of Landry.
Over the three month period of January through March, he does 15 to 18 talks, Stone said, and his program is heard on more than 230 radio stations in seven states.
After Stone was done speaking, awards were given out and Mamaw's Fried Pies was honored as the Business of the Year.
"(This is a) very special honor," said co-owner Sandra Harvell.
She said the business has been in Whitehouse since December 2007 and they have more than 20 flavors of fried pies to choose from.
"Our product is unique," Harvell said. "You don't see many pie shops anymore."
Harvell noted that she and co-owner Nell Hoce are retired manicurists and eventually opened the pie shop.
"We just never expected to get this far," Hoce said. "All the doors have opened for us."
Conaway, who serves as second vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, was honored as Person of Impact this year.
Of the Chamber of Commerce, he said he has been a member since the late 1980s and was part of a group who helped refocus and improve membership.
Conaway, vice president of sales and marketing for Conaway Homes of Whitehouse, said in the last five years, the Chamber of commerce has actually quadrupled its size.
"Now we can start making a difference," he said, adding there have previously not been enough members to make an impact on the community.
Currently, the Chamber of Commerce has 132 members, Conaway said.
The renovation of the Whitehouse High School football stadium was honored as the Beautification Project of Impact.
"It is a great improvement for the community," said Daniel DuPree, assistant superintendent, of the stadium. "I'm pleased that we won."
Peterson said new artificial turf was put in this past summer as part of the project and a second story was added to the press box.
The stadium also had 2,000 seats added as part of the renovation, and had a new scoreboard put in, said Richard Peacock, executive director of student and support services.
He said the money for the renovations came from capital project funds.
The cost of the stadium renovation was a little more than $2 million, DuPree said.
Teachers in Whitehouse ISD were also honored at the banquet.
The awards were given based on the 2007-08 school year, and the winners may or may not still be at the school they are tied to for the award.
Teachers of the Year were Dena Mitchell from Cain Elementary, Peggy Craft from Brown Elementary, Johna Booker from Higgins Elementary, Tonya Turnage from Holloway, Sherri Spurlock from Whitehouse Jr. High, Sherry Taylor from Whitehouse High School, and Marilyn Meyer from the AIM Center.
Elementary Teacher of the Year was Tonya Turnage and Secondary Teacher of the Year was Marilyn Meyer.
Next year's Chamber of Commerce officers were also announced at Tuesday night's banquet.
Peterson will remain the president, Rick Trevino will be 1st vice president, Conaway will be the 2nd vice president, Trisha Brown will be secretary and Andrea Pitts will be treasurer.
During the evening, attendees had the chance to participate in a silent auction.
Silent auction items included a red umbrella donated by State Farm Insurance, a $100 savings bond donated by Austin Bank, an iPod nano donated by Conaway Homes, and an autographed picture of Troy Aikman.
No matter what their reason was for coming, attendees seemed to enjoy themselves.
"This is the best one I've ever been to," Tish McGuire said as she waited in the line to get dinner. "This one just seems to have more involvement."
Phil Rogers said this year was actually his first year to come to the banquet and became a member of the Chamber of Commerce "hopefully to make our business community better."
Even though he said this year's banquet topped last years, Peterson also said that there are "big plans" for next year's 25th annual event.