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Friday, July 20, 2018, 9:05 p.m.

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Banquet to honor Jacksonville’s finest

By Angela Spencer

This article was published July 8, 2018 at 12:00 a.m.

members-of-the-jacksonville-historical-district-gather-at-jacksonville-florist-to-plan-for-the-annual-citizen-of-the-year-award-banquet-to-be-held-thursday-from-left-are-gina-crow-a-member-of-the-jacksonville-historical-district-and-the-owner-of-jacksonville-florist-barbara-mashburn-ceo-and-secretary-of-the-jacksonville-historical-district-lida-feller-first-chair-of-the-district-and-laurie-johnson-a-district-member-who-is-charge-of-public-relations

Members of the Jacksonville Historical District gather at Jacksonville Florist to plan for the annual Citizen of the Year Award Banquet to be held Thursday. From left are, Gina Crow, a member of the Jacksonville Historical District and the owner of Jacksonville Florist; Barbara Mashburn, CEO and secretary of the Jacksonville Historical District; Lida Feller, first chair of the district; and Laurie Johnson, a district member who is charge of public relations.

— One might think an organization with the phrase “historical district” in the name would be concerned only with the past, but nothing could be further from the truth in Jacksonville.

“We are trying to build community and build a vision for the future,” said Laurie Johnson, who is in charge of public relations for the Jacksonville Historical Society. “It’s not just about the past; you’ve got to consider the future.”

The organization will have its annual Citizen of the Year Award Banquet on Thursday at the Jacksonville Community Center. The event will honor businesses and individuals who have made an impact on the city of Jacksonville, often without looking for any kind of recognition.

There are four categories for the awards: Business of the Year, Veteran of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Citizen of the Year.

C. Rolanda Robinson, who is monitoring the judging of the awards, said the nominations have made her proud of Jacksonville.

“Reading over the contributions has really encouraged me,” she said. “You hear about the negatives and can blow through the good things, but for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reading these nominations, and I’m blown away by the heart of the people of Jacksonville.”

Robinson said she has read stories of people rescuing others who were snowed in and of individuals sitting with people at the hospital who may not have family around.

“There is so much benevolence in our community,” she said. “I’m so, so proud of my town.”

Tickets to the banquet are $30 and can be purchased at Jacksonville Florist and the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. Lida Feller, first chair of the Jacksonville Historical District, said Gwatney Grillers will provide the food, which will include brisket, grilled chicken, baked-potato-salad casserole, green beans, salad, rolls and cheesecake.

There will be a silent auction as well, and all the money raised will go right back into Jacksonville.

“We’re working on restoring the old downtown area,” Feller said. “Right now, we’re trying to raise money to have the ceiling redone in the old pawn shop that was owned by Jim Pate.”

The Jacksonville Historical Society has big plans for that space.

“We want to make it into a train museum and a place to do different things for the family,” Feller said. “We want to get people together.”

Last year was the first Citizen of the Year Banquet, and Feller said organizers were impressed with the response.

“Last year, we had a little over 200 people attend, and it was our first year,” she said.

There will be door prizes, and some of the decor for the event — provided by Jacksonville Florist — will go home with some of the lucky attendees.

Following are the award categories and their nominees:

Business of the Year nominees are Whit Davis Lumber, The Game Place, Double R Florist, Jacksonville Florist and Arkansas Office Products.

Veteran of the Year nominees include Steven Powell, Norman Sanders, Lesly Anderson, Charles Hale, William VanNewkirk, Arthur Eschenburg III and Ivory Tillman.

Volunteer of the Year nominees are Mary Twitty, Arthur Eschenburg III, William VanNewkirk, Judy VanNewkirk, Charles Hale, Alice Williams, Valerie Perry, Gloria Johnson, Christy McMillion, Rose Rains, Dominic McGrudder, Cynthia Maddox, Clinton McDonald and Brad West.

Citizen of the Year nominees include William VanNewkirk, Arthur Eschenburg, Judy VanNewkirk, Dr. Robert “Bob” Price, Charles Hale, Barbara Mashburn, Alice Williams, Jerry Sanders, Johnny Hicks, Rose Rains and Tony Anderson.

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