Nathan Jones, immediate past chairman of the chamber board, was named 2012 Outstanding Citizen of the Year. The 2011 Outstanding Citizen of the Year, Elton McCune, made the presentation, calling Jones “the glue” that has helped bring about accomplishments in Jacksonville this past year.
“I am stunned and honored. … There are many more people that are deserving (other) than me,” Jones said as he accepted his award.
“Jacksonville is a wonderful place to work and live.” he said. “I believe our best days are ahead of us. By working together, the sky's the limit.”
Jones also thanked his wife, his extended family for “providing an example of how I should live my life,” his Austin Bank family, his friends and his colleagues. He dedicated his award to the memory of Texas A&M University football player Joe Villavisencio, of Jacksonville, who died in a car accident.
Jones, a Bryan native, had various summer jobs growing up, such as hauling hay, and got his start in banking in college, when he served as a part-time teller at City National Bank in Bryan, McCune said.
He graduated with a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M in 1982 and subsequently earned a graduate degree from Southern Methodist University.
After graduating in 1982, Jones, who comes from a family of bankers, worked for Allied Bank of Texas in Houston, starting as a credit analyst before being promoted, according to a biography provided by the chamber. He later served as a vice president commercial lender in Marble Falls and eventually worked as a vice president for Austin Bank, formerly First National Bank in Jacksonville, the biography states. His career with Austin Bank has lasted more than 20 years. Since 2006, he has served as regional president over the Cherokee County Region.
Outside of work, Jones has been involved in many community groups, including the Cherokee County United Fund, Boy Scouts and the Jacksonville Rotary Club.
Jones said Gorham, who serves as chamber board treasurer, worked to bring concrete tomatoes to Jacksonville. Tomatoes are now displayed all around town.
Jones also recognized numerous individuals, including chamber division chairs, Love's Lookout volunteers and chamber staff, and presented the Chairman's Award to East Texas Medical Center in Jacksonville and Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Jacksonville. He said the state-of-the-art facilities exemplify last year's chamber theme, which was “Team Jacksonville,” with “Team” standing for “Together Everyone Achieves More.”
“They both bring significant jobs to our community … They bring continued expansion and investment (to) Jacksonville … They bring generosity and support of local charities. They bring leadership and volunteerism,” he said.
Jones also noted accomplishments in 2012 such as a tourism brochure for the concrete tomatoes, beautification efforts, reinstatement of a transportation committee, the success of the Taste of Jacksonville event, the chamber's participation in a chop off event and the continued growth of Tomato Fest.
The 2013 chairman of the board, Brett Brewer of Norman Law Firm, also addressed chamber members and recognized 2013 board members.
He encouraged chamber members to use the new chamber website to their advantage and talked about this year's theme –—“Jacksonville: The Capital of East Texas.”
He said the city is known for tomatoes, but it also is the education capital with a vibrant public school district and other education institutions. He said it is also a business capital with a variety of companies and two hospitals, and in 2013, the emphasis is Jacksonville as a retirement and relocation center.
“I'm thrilled that we have visitors come all the time and stop for a day, but how much better would it be if they stayed for a lifetime?” Brewer said. “Those things that attracted me — our natural beauty, our shops, our businesses, but especially our people — can be harnessed to attract people here … We just need to spread the word.”