• 73°

Education Dinner set next week

VALLEY — On Thursday, March 15, local citizens who have been making invaluable contributions toward educating our young people will get some much-deserved recognition at the inaugural Education Awards Dinner sponsored by the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce. The event will be taking place inside the big gym at Valley Community Center. It should be well attended. An estimated 240 people have registered for it.

“We wanted to include every brick and mortar school in our local area,” said Ashley Crane, GVACC executive director. “All of them were invited. We asked the principals, or headmasters, to do a survey of their school to determine who deserved to be recognized.”

This could be a teacher, administrator, counselor, resource officer, school nurse, cafeteria workers, and the first person from the school a student sees each day – a bus driver, to the last person to leave the building that day – the custodian.

People from 19 public schools in Chambers County, two Christian schools, the Valley campus of Southern Union State Community College and Point University will be up for awards.

“There are so many positive things going on in our local schools,” Crane said. “So many people are giving back to the community by having a significant influence on our young people.”

There will be 25 winners in 11 different categories. Awards will be given for the Classroom Teacher of the Year, Specialty Area Teacher of the Year, Rookie Teacher of the Year, STEM Teacher of the Year, Coach of the Year, Support Employee of the Year, Food Service Employee of the Year, Health Service Employee of the Year, Maintenance and/or Custodial Employee of the Year, Transportation Employee of the Year, Administrator of the Year and a winner at the Post-Secondary level.

All of the finalists in each division will receive certificates with the overall winner receiving a plaque. Awards will be given in three special categories: Volunteer of the Year, Community Member of the Year and Partner-In-Education of the Year.

Crane said that she would like to this to be an annual event.

The program will begin around 5:30 p.m. EDT with some networking among the guests. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. with guest speaker Jody Fuller taking the podium at 6:30. The awards will be presented between 7:15 and 8 p.m.

Jody Fuller is sure to be entertaining. He’s part comedian, motivational speaker, writer and soldier, with three tours of duty in Iraq to his credit. Fuller grew up in Opelika with two big drawbacks: an underprivileged childhood and a stuttering problem.

He enlisted in the Army out of high school and spent four years as a medic. In November 2003, he served as the leader of the third largest platoon in the Army. In 2006, Fuller left active duty to join the Alabama National Guard and was deployed to Iraq two more times. He still continues to serve in the Army Reserves.

When not in uniform, Jody performs all over the U.S. for a wide range of groups, including non-profits, corporations and disability groups. He also performs for troops abroad and at home. He’s a member of two NSA organizations – the National Speakers Association and the National Stuttering Association.

As a writer, his column can be read in 10 newspapers. He’s also been published six times in the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Two days after the Education Awards Dinner, the Chamber will play host to another major event, St. Paddy’s Day on the River in downtown West Point. This will continue a local tradition began by the Irish Bred Pub. It falls on March 17th and promises to be a fun day for the whole family. There’s an admission charge of $10. (Children two years of age and younger will be admitted free). A wrist band will enable participants to come and go throughout the day.

There will be a kids’ zone from 2 to 6 p.m. featuring inflatables, face painting, touch a truck and more. The adult portion will go from 2 till 11 p.m. There will be food vendors, carnival-style food, green beer and lots of arts and crafts vendors.

Evening entertainment will include performances by Tim Dugger and Blaine Rudd.

The Chamber is a contributing sponsor for three fishing tournaments that will be taking place this spring on Chambers County Lake. The crappie portion of the tournament began March 1 and will continue through March 31. The bass tournament is from April 1-30 and the catfish tournament will be going on May 1-31.

There’s a $15 entry fee per tournament and payouts for each tournament. $100 will be going to the largest fish in each tournament, $150 for the most number of fish in a tournament and $250 for the most weight of fish in a tournament.

On Friday, April 13th, the Chamber will be hosting a Business Expo at Valley Community Center. This will give local business owners a chance to talk about their business and the services they offer to a big gr0up. The Expo will be taking place between 10:30 a.m. till noon EDT. A luncheon is set for the noon hour until around 1:30. Guest speakers Mack and Ria Story will be discussing the topic “Change Happens” and offering
advice in how to deal with it.

On Friday, May 4th, the Chamber will have a First Responders Breakfast at the Community Center. Breakfast will be served at 8 a.m. with a guest speaker to talk during the nine o’clock hour.