Chamber hands out annual honors
Two prominent community leaders were honored as outstanding business man and woman Monday at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce fall membership meeting.
This year's Outstanding Business Wo-man is Debbie Kerzee, co-owner of Mark Ker-zee Insurance Agency, and the Outstanding Business Man is Dr. Joe Wardell, superintendent of Jacksonville ISD. An estimated 185 people attended the luncheon at the Norman Activity Center.
Father Mark Kusmirek with Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Chur-ch roasted Wardell, poking fun at a suit color he wore while mentioning things he enjoys such as working on the ranch and being on a barge at the lake.
With a more serious tone, Dr. Edwin Crank, last year's Outstanding Business Man, presented the award to the superintendent.
Crank said he didn't know of anyone who deserved the honor more.
"I don't know of anyone who could do a better job for the district," he said, adding that Wardell has held many positions in his career, including principal and coach, so he knows what it's like for his staff.
"He understands what they do. You just have to be there to know what he's done."
That effort includes working on a bond issue, which passed in November 2010. The bond entails new Joe Wright and East Side elementary schools, a new cafeteria, additional classrooms and an expanded library for Fred Douglass Elementary School as well as a new cafeteria and cafeteria building and an academic wing with eight science labs at Jacksonville High School. ¬†
"We have a lot to take our hats off to. ... We love you. We appreciate you," Crank told Wardell.
Wardell said the honor is not about him but rather "all of us (in the district) and the great things that have taken place."
He went on to thank various people, including board members, administrators, campus principals, faculty and the community as a whole.
Wardell came to Jacksonville ISD in March 2009 and has 38 years of experience in public education and 32 years of experience in public school administration. He and his wife Tricia have two children and three grandchildren. He is a rotary club member and attends First Baptist Church in Jacksonville.
Mrs. Kerzee was roasted by Kathleen Stanfill, Membership Development Division chairwoman for the chamber, and received her award from Sandi Minter, last year's Outstanding Business Woman.
Ms. Stanfill talked about Mrs. Kerzee's time as a cheerleader at Jacksonville High School and her love for family.
"Debbie's not a person who doesn't carry her family with her. It's almost like she carries an entourage," Ms. Stanfill said.
Ms. Minter said Mrs. Kerzee truly cares about people and the community. She spends time picking up trash and working with the crisis center, and "is willing to do what's asked of her for the betterment of the community," she said. Ms. Minter said Mrs. Kerzee also believes in treating everyone fairly, which goes into every aspect of her life.
Mrs. Kerzee said she wouldn't be anything without her family and feels like she needs to give back because of what Jacksonville has given her.
"I love Jacksonville. I don't know how to saym 'Thank you.' I don't deserve this," she said.
Mrs. Kerzee, who owns Mark Kerzee Insurance Agency with her husband, has two children and five grandchildren.
She serves in many areas of the community, including the crisis center, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Keep Jacksonville Beautiful, Jacksonville Tennis Association and Park Lake Fishing Club.
Other recognition at Monday's meeting included the Community Development Division Award, which went to Breezy Lake Wolfe, Taste of Jacksonville chairwoman; the Education Development Division Award, which went to Brittany Traylor and Jaleea Hudnall with the 2011-12 Jacksonville/Rusk Leadership Institute; and the Membership Development Division Award, which went to Mary Lou Taylor with Business After Hours and Pam Anderson with the Warm Welcome Committee.