By: Lydia Crawley
The Parsons Advocate
The Tucker County Chamber of Commerce held its 45th Annual Awards Banquet at Canaan Valley Resort State Park in Davis to honor this year’s community award winners. The evening was kicked off with a greeting from Executive Director Jessica Waldo. “I find it so amazing that here we are 45 years celebrating our community and recognizing those that we feel that deserve these awards that have done things above and beyond,” Waldo said.
Canaan Valley Resort sponsored the Community Service Award. Ed Evans was the honoree due to his dedication to helping the community. “As I’m reading through the nominations for this nominee, it started to feel like I was doing the Employee of the Year Award again because of all the things this individual does for the community,” the presenter said. “This person is doing this for free. This is not an employee. This person is doing all this work…just out of the goodness of their heart.”
The presenter outlined many of the good works that Evans does for the community. “He mows and picks up the dirt at Centennial Park and hauls the trash to the landfill and I’m told that’s at his own expense. He mows the cemeteries in the spring to get them ready for Memorial Day. He raises funds for local non-profits through one of his infamous chicken burns. That’s a Tucker County term. I’d never heard of it until I moved here. He’s spent countless hours mowing, making repairs, cleaning the barns, stage area, ballfields and rest rooms at Camp Kid. He’s an integral part of the county fair by serving on the board and can often be found on the fairgrounds camping among the animals to help keep an eye on the livestock all week. He volunteers for both 4-H and FFA. These are just the things he does to benefit the community as a whole.”
The presenter also listed some of the good Evans does for the people of his community, in addition. “Some of the things I was most touched by as I was reading these nominations were things that he does for his neighbors who are in need,” the presenter said. “He’s often mowing the yards of elderly community members who aren’t able or need assistance with that. He once witnessed a neighbor nearly falling on the ice in winter while trying to get water from Close mountain spring. So, he took it upon himself to repair the culvert and gravel to make access for his neighbors to access safely the spring. He was once walking past his neighbor’s house and saw that their wheelchair ramp needed repaired. He wasn’t asked. He was just walking past, noticed it needed fixed and fixed it. I have a quote here that sums this up, ‘Volunteers don’t get paid. Not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.’”
The 2023 Educator of the Year was named as James Marple, a Tucker County High School Math Teacher. Mountain Hospice sponsored the award. According to Waldo, Marple was the 2007 recipient of the Office of Institutional Education Teacher of the Year Award. “One nomination mentioned that there are few people that have improved as many West Virginian lives as Mr. Marple,” Waldo said.
Mr. Marple wasn’t able to attend the event, but Tucker County High School Principal Alex Cork accepted the award on his behalf. “He’s very deserving of this award,” Cork said. “We’re very fortunate to have him at the school.”
The Recipient of the Student of the Year was Daniel Levi Bennett. The award was sponsored by Sirianni’s Cafe. Bennett had over 30 letters submitted on his behalf, according to the presenter. “We got 30 letters written on behalf of this young man,” the presenter said. “30. That’s a lot of letters.”
Bailey Falls of the Tucker County Animal Shelter received the Employee of the Year Award at the banquet. The Inn at Canaan sponsored the award. “This nominee is someone who devotes her love, her time, and dedication to the welfare of all animals and providing the absolute best care that she can with a smile on her face while she’s doing so,” the presenter said.
The 2023 Business of the Year was Timberline Mountain. The award was sponsored by Best of Canaan. The Special Award was awarded to the 2023 Tucker County Boys Basketball Team and the Tucker County Girls Basketball Team. The award was sponsored by the Tucker County Community Foundation and St. George Medical Clinic.
The Tucker County Chamber of Commerce lists its mission statement as, “The Tucker County Chamber of Commerce facilitates a healthy and striving county economy. The Chamber promotes individual success, small business development, and entrepreneurial activities by providing information, education and leadership to local businesses and members. The Chamber partners with and actively participates in the projects and activities of other community and regional organizations and agencies in matters affecting the economy and the community. The Chamber supports efforts to protect and conserve natural and cultural resources recognizing the stewardship of the natural environment and Tucker County’s heritage is essential to the economy.”
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