Nine individuals in five different categories were recognized during the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet Monday night at the Carroll County Civic Center.
“This evening’s event represents the 34th time the Chamber has held a membership banquet,” said Chamber President Brad Hurley. “Our purpose this evening is simple: to honor businesses and individuals who have made and continue to make a positive difference in the lives of the citizens of Carroll County.”
He added that clearly Carroll County’s greatest asset is the people and the strong business community.
“Tonight we will honor only a few of our county’s bright and shining stars,” said Hurley. “As you listen to the story of each honoree tonight, you will realize the many ways they have contributed to making Carroll County a better place to live.”
High school seniors from Carroll County were recognized in the spring by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce for their academic excellence, by scoring a 29 or better on the national ACT test. Placing them in the top 10% of students taking the ACT.
Jordan Allen, Lexie Bolin, Kristen Bradley, Sara Churchwell, Kendall Davidson, Elizabeth Dayhuff, Aiden Gonzalez, Justin Miller, Connor Pinson, Cecelia Pomphrey, Jessa Potts, Kaitlyn Smith, Allyn Swenson, and Jack Surber are the fourth class to be selected for the Chamber’s ACT Wall of Honor.
Special awards went to Martha Taylor as Carroll Countian of the Year, Seth Bennett as Business Person of the Year, Tippitt Farms as Agri-Busness/Farmer of the Year, Bethel University as Business of the Year, and Matthew Holt and Elijah Brewer with Special Recognition awards.
Carroll Countian of the Year
Martha Taylor was the recipient of the Carroll Countian of the Year award.
“All throughout her career she has wanted to be in the background, but tonight her dedication, commitment, and hard work will be recognized,” said chamber board member John Sanders who presented the plaque to her.
She is a true lifelong resident of Carroll County and is a graduate of Huntingdon High School. She was married to the late Lynn Taylor and they have two daughters, Vicki Williams and husband Lane; Jennie Smith and husband Trevor; a son, Chad and wife Laura; and seven grandchildren, Taylor, Remington, Kaylee, Lillian, Ava, Beau and Emma, all of Huntingdon.
Most people are well aware of Martha’s public service. She is a 47-year employee of the Town of Huntingdon and is a shining example of someone who enjoys helping and servicing people.
Mayor Dale Kelley said it well: “I know of no one more deserving of Carroll Countian of the year. Her contribution to Huntingdon and Carroll County for more than 40 years has been immeasurable. She has been involved in all major projects of the Town of Huntingdon which have been completed while serving as Town Recorder. She has been a confidant, reliable source of wisdom, and a good friend. She has truly left her mark on our community.”
“One thing that some people may not know about Martha is that she is a successful business person,” said Sanders.
Martha is co-owner of Taylor Real Estate and Auction. Her late husband Lynn became owner/broker of Taylor Real Estate in 1979. Martha joined him as a licensed real estate agent in the ‘80s in what has become a family owned real estate, crop insurance and auction business. During the mid ‘90s their three children, Chad, Vicki and Jennie joined the business.
Business Person of the Year
In 1986, the Chamber Board began the tradition of recognizing successful business people in the county. The list of previous winners is extremely impressive.
The backbone of any community is local business owners and their commitment to making a community grow and prosper. This evening recognized is the 36th person to receive this recognition.
“Our honoree is Mr. Seth Bennett,” said chamber board member Johnny Clement. “He has been a fixture at Watson Lumber Company for more than 15 years and a few years ago became the owner of Watson Lumber Company & the Hardware House. In addition to these two businesses, Seth has started Bennett Rental Company in 2016 and recently bought Arnold’s Rentals in McKenzie from Danny & Susan Arnold.”
Seth is past president and active member of the Huntingdon Lion’s club, a member of the Huntingdon Planning Commission and Palmer Shelter United Methodist Church. He has served on the Carroll County Habitat for Humanity Board and the Carroll County Library Board.
He is a graduate of Huntingdon High School and Jackson State Community College. While at Jackson State he was a member of the baseball team and played catcher. After receiving an Associate’s degree in Biology from Jackson State, he went on to Union University where he graduated cum laude in 2001 with a Bachelor’s Degree in history. Also, he played on the baseball team for Union University.
He and his wife Jill, have three children Jax, Broox, and Knox. Jill is a family nurse practitioner with Baptist Medical Group. He is the son of Burton and Sharon Bennett and the grandson of Gailford Bennett.
Youth Achievement Award
One mark of the success of our schools is the success of the students.
“Too many times there are good news stories about accomplishments that are reached right in our own back yard, but we fail to recognize the significance of those accomplishments,” said chamber board member Bob Rutledge, who presented the Youth Achievement Award to Elijah Brewer.
“Tonight we are proud to share and honor one of our very own success stories from a school system right here in our own back yard in Carroll County.”
For the third time, the Chamber will recognize one of the county’s students for representing their school system, Carroll County, and West TN, in Scripps National Spelling Bee Competition in Washington DC.
Eleven million students compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee at the local, regional and state levels. Only 285 receive an invitation to attend the National competition in Washington DC.
This summer, Elijah Brewer was one of the students that earned a trip to the Nationals. Elijah was an 8th grade student at Central Middle School, in Bruceton, last year and is now a freshman at Central High School.
His parents, Cory and Summer Brewer and his sister Jessie, were recognized. Hollow Rock-Bruceton Special School District David Duncan was also present.
Elijah is a great example of the many accomplishments that are taking place everyday in the school buildings all across this county.
The Chamber Board created a new award this year, the Chamber’s Outstanding Young Professional Award. The criteria for the award is a graduate of one of Carroll County’s high schools, be professionally employed and between the ages of 25-45, live and work in Carroll County, and has received and/or continues to receive national recognition for their talents
“The first recipient of this honor far exceeds the criteria,” said board member Bob Rutledge.
Matthew Holt resides in McKenzie with his wife, Lindsey, and his three children, Fletcher, Ridley, and Carver. Holt started playing the piano at the age of 3. By the age of 18, he became the minister of music at his church. Early in his professional music career, he traveled with the award winning Southern Gospel group, the Perrys.
Holt was nominated as one of the top five musicians in all of Gospel Music every year while playing for the Perrys. More recently in 2015, he received his first Grammy nomination, the music industry’s most sought after award. Also, in 2015 he was nominated for a Dove Award. Holt is also making waves as a Christian songwriter. He co-owns a music publishing company, HabeHolt Music. Since its conception in 2006, HabeHolt Music has over 150 songs recorded by well-known artists, as well as numerous No. 1 songs.
In addition to being the Executive Director of Renaissance, Holt also currently travels full-time with Bill Gaither, the Gaither Vocal Band, and Homecoming Tour as their pianist. Using his experiences through ministry and the professional music world, Holt inspires and encourages the young people with whom he works, as well as, providing vision and leadership for this unique program.
Bethel University President Walter Butler said it the best: “His talent in the music industry is on a level of its own. We are very fortunate Matthew is a part of our family as the Director of Renaissance. His influence to the several hundred students he touches each year is such a blessing for our Bethel family.”
Farmer of the Year
Chamber president Brad Hurley presented the Agri-Business/Farmer of the Year to Tippitt farms. Accepting the award were brothers Glenn, Tommy and Larry Tippitt and their sister, Carol Bennett.
“Tippitt Farms is truly a shining example of a family business and tradition. The three brothers have been in the Farming business for nearly five decades,” Hurley said.
Glenn Tippitt and his wife Janice have three sons, Lance, Tyler and Ryan; they have five grandchildren: Molley-Kate, Brendan, Emily, Nolan, and Hannah. Glenn has formerly served on the Board of Directors for the Carroll County Co-Op and has served as President of the Carroll County Farm Bureau.
2016 Business of the Year
In 2007, the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce established an award to recognize Carroll County Businesses for their commitment to making our county a better place to live and work.
“Tonight, we are honoring our 16th Recipient: Bethel University,” said chamber board member Joe Smothers.
Bethel University has been a vital part of Carroll County since 1842 and is celebrating this school year its 175th anniversary. Bethel opened its doors in McLemoresville in 1842 and moved to McKenzie in 1872.
Bethel is a pillar of our community. Bethel has a wide ranging impact on McKenzie, Carroll County and Tennessee. Bethel employs approximately 350 people in Carroll County and nearly 600 system wide. Bethel University has 8 campuses across Tennessee.
Candidly, the growth of Bethel University, in the last 17 years, is unbelievable. Today, Bethel is recognized for it’s leadership in online education, for it’s music program, for it’s health studies both RN and Physician Assistant programs, students from 19 countries attend Bethel University, it’s reach is truly worldwide, Athletic Programs like Bass Fishing, Inline Hockey, and Soccer have all won National Championships.
Today, Bethel University has nearly 6,000 students.
“You can see firsthand the volunteer spirit at Bethel University through the actions of their student’s faculty, and staff helping many worthwhile causes all-across Carroll County,” said Smothers. “Bethel University is a source of great pride for all Carroll Countains. We could go on and on about the great things happening at Bethel University.”