Chamber honors Whitmans, Taylor

Glynis Crawford Smith/The Highlander

Raymond and Tammy Whitman of Whitman Insurance and Service Title Company in Marble Falls, left, receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 59th Annual Awards Banquet of the Marble Falls Lake/LBJ Chamber of Commerce on Saturday night, Feb. 24. They are joined by the chamber's executive director Patti Zinsmeyer, right, and their daughter, Kaitlynn Whitman Williams, who had the pleasure of presenting the award.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

Community leaders let their hair down for the 59th Annual Awards Banquet, themed “Get Down, Turn Around, Go to Town, Brew Scootin' Boogie!”

The event was a sell out and the Cadillac Dance Hall delivered with the music of Eddie Shell and the Not Guilties and their lead singer Bode Barker.

But the casual atmosphere and a banquet of barbecue did not diminish the pride the chamber took in recognizing the contributions of award winners, including Outstanding Citizen Guy Taylor and Lifetime Achievement Award winners Raymond and Tammy Cochran Whitman.

The Excellence in Public Service Award was presented to the Highland Lakes Pregnancy Resource Center of Marble Falls and Kingsland. Clay Cauble was named Innovator of the Year and Jeff Bingham, Ambassador of the Year.

Specifically from within their own ranks, chamber members chose Scott Streit as Advisory Board Member of the Year and Pedernales Electric Cooperative as Volunteers of the Year.

Executive director of the chamber, Patti Zinsmeyer, praised the work of the board of directors, including outgoing president Mandi Wyatt, incoming president Taylor Smith, immediate past president Mark McCary, Susan Brown and Logan Stanley, DDS.

She also introduced chamber volunteers Vashti Tucker, Bruce Seebeck, Ron Nicholas, Jerry Schappe, Ron and Cheryl LeVick and Robert and Cecilla de la Garza, as well as staff members Sarah Cummings, membership coordinator, and Erin Burks, director of marketing and tourism.

Lifetime Achievement

The Whitmans had the honor of receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from their daughter Kaitlynn Williams.

“Raymond and Tammy Whitman have been involved with chamber since the early 1980's, serving on the board for numerous years,” she said. “Volunteerism was ingrained in Raymond and Tammy from an early age.

“Tammy's father, Ernest K. Cochran, was active in the establishment of the Marble Falls Chamber of Commerce and served as president. Raymond’s family has been active in Marble Falls for many generations; his great-great grandmother, Marcella Pennington Lacy Whitman, sold the land to Adam Johnson to establish the City of Marble Falls.”

The parents of two, Michael and Kaitlynn, who has added son-in-law Jacob Williams, the Whitmans are active community members who focus on helping children and the less fortunate, their daughter said.

“Raymond and Tammy served on the Board of Directors for Camp of the Hills, a camp located outside of Marble Falls serving children from low income communities across Texas, for approximately 15 years.”

Raymond served on the City Council for five terms as a councilman, one term as mayor pro tem and mayor from 2005 to 2009; and another year, 2014-2015, as a councilman. He was a member of the Marble Falls Jay Cees, the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs of Marble Falls and the Masonic Lodge.

“When Marble Falls was hit by the Flood of 2007, Raymond was instrumental in identifying areas of damage with the Governor of the State of Texas, and working diligently to restore damaged areas of Marble Falls to their original condition,” said Williams.

She said Tammy has been a member of the Delta Zeta service sorority since 1981, serving as president and district president.

“She established the Ernest K. Cochran Memorial Scholarship Fund benefitting local graduates who desire to achieve higher education,” Williams added.

Outstanding Citizen

Taylor was asked to come forward with his wife Cindy Blankenship Taylor, his supporter in area youth work, to receive the Citizen of the Year Award from board member Logan Stanley, DDS.

“His career in public service includes corrections, law enforcement, education and countless hours of volunteer work and mentoring of our youth,” said Stanley. “His time spent in law enforcement includes both Austin and Marble Falls. He later shifted his focus to advocacy and education, serving on the board of Hill Country Children's Advocacy Center, fighting for the rights and treatment of abused children.

“For the last 23 years he has educated our children in the middle school DARE program, as well as teaching high school dual credit courses in criminal justice. He is on the faculty and serves as a professor at Central Texas College and Colorado Technical College.”

Stanley got to know Taylor through the Burnet County/Stonehill 4-H rifle and marksmanship team.

“He not only trains kids to excel in competitive shooting, but teaches them excellence in marksmanship, safety and a respect for the firearms they handle,” said Stanley. “He often will focus just as much or more on positive, constructive moral training as he does on training them to be good shooters.”

Under Taylor's tutelage, kids from the team he founded and coaches have won seven national titles, over 15 state titles, set 20 national records.

“Much of what makes a citizen outstanding is their selflessness,” said Stanley. “They do things in the background and out of the limelight...They do it because they know they are making a difference...that will far outlive their time on this earth.”

Public Service

“We are pleased to recognize one of our less visible charitable organizations,” said outgoing chamber president Mandi Wyatt in her presentation of the Excellence in Public Service Award to Jessica McRee-Grabert, executive director of Highland Lakes Pregnancy Resource Center. “All their services are without charge and confidential.”

“The center provides pregnancy tests, limited sonograms, STD testing, vouchers for maternity clothing, baby items and a comprehensive life skills program focused on responsible parenting,” said Wyatt. “In recent years the life skills program has grown over 843 percent.”

Innovator

Cauble was recognized as Innovator of the Year for sparking 100 Man Give A Damn in the Highland Lakes a “non-entity” with a big footprint.

“If you look at the website, 100mangiveadamn.org, you will see sentences that state: 'We don't technically exist,'” said Smith as he presented the award. “We have no directors, presidents or treasurers. We have no bank account. We have no operating budget, because our members write their checks to the recipient charity.”

Cauble's idea, said Smith, was to “get a group of 100 men together, give them a little beer and let three charities speak.”

Every man agrees to write a check for at least $100 on a simple vote.

“It sounds simple, but it took our Innovator of the Year to bring this thought to the Hill Country and act on it,” said Smith. “The goal is $100,000 and they already have given $40,000 to deserving charities.”

Ambassador

Bingham was recognized as Ambassador of the Year by Susan Brown of the chamber board of directors, who listed no fewer than 10 avenues her friend travels as an ambassador for Marble Falls. But she began with his military service, since he was commissioned straight out of college as a 2nd lieutenant in the Texas Army National Guard.

“He was activated twice,” she said. “First, for Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and in 1997 for Operation Joint Guard, where he was deployed to Bosnia. He retired at the rank of major after 20 years of service.”

His work in the banking industry finally brought him in 1998 to Marble Falls where he worked at Cattleman's National Bank, American Bank of Texas and, now, Security Bank of Texas.

“His involvement with the community started as soon as he rolled into town,” she said. “He was recruited by Johnny Campbell to serve on the county-wide emergency medical service committee. He has been on the Marble Falls Area EMS Board of Directors since 2009 and he serves on the boards of trustees of the Marble Falls Education Foundation and the advisory board for Scott & White Hospital.”

Advisory Board

Streit is market president of FirstCapital Bank for the Hill Country, which includes Horseshoe Bay, Marble Falls, and soon Fredericksburg.

“He has served on the chamber advisory board with unwavering dedication,” said Wyatt in presenting the Advisory Board Member of the Year Award. “Even two separate foot surgeries and weeks on crutches did not keep him from attending meetings, mixers and volunteer opportunities at events. It is obvious by his actions that what's important to him is community involvement, promoting local businesses, helping nonprofit organizations and embracing growth and vision.

Volunteers

Zinsmeyer said the Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) serves it members not only in Marble Falls but all over the Hill Country.

“They have helped numerous non-profit organizations with PEC Community Grants,” she said. “In 2017, Marble Falls Senior Activity Center and Candlelight ranch were two of six non-profits in their service territory that received a grant.”

She went on to extoll their readiness to support non profits, including the chamber: “Walkway of Lights iconic 'Old Glory' would be much lower to the ground if weren't for them. In fact, we would not have anything very high off the ground without their help. Walkway of Lights can be seen for miles because of their of their time and effort.”

She praised Beth Cottingham and Diana Gonzales who accepted the award as well as Fritz Rhoades and Gilbert Valdez and the other employees of PEC for their “spirit of volunteerism.”

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