Scores of local officials, Jacksonville Chamber members and a few state officials attended the 95th Annual Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet on Friday at the Norman Activity Center.
Jacksonville College President Dr. Mike Smith was honored as the 2019 Outstanding Citizen of the Year, as his friends and family surprised him as he stepped onstage.
“Thank you to my wife, Susan, my family and all those at Jacksonville College, and I thank you the citizens of Jacksonville,” Smith said. “I am, indeed, humbled and honored to receive this, thank you.”
Smith holds several degrees, and he has taught courses as an adjunct professor at the Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary in Jacksonville and for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He has served on the Jacksonville College Board of Visitors and been a member of the JC Board of Trustees.
Smith added: “I want to give honor to my Lord and Savior, Jesus.”
Smith and his wife have been married since 1974, and they have two children and five grandchildren.
The award was presented by the 2018 Outstanding Citizen of the Year, Sam Hopkins. Smith received a plaque and certificates from State Rep. Travis Clardy, Senator Robert Nichols, Congressman Lance Gooden and Jacksonville Mayor Randy Gorham.
The Citizen of the Year Award was not Smith's only recognition during the event. He also received 2019 Chamber Chairman Tom Trimble's Chairman Award for his “quiet and steadfast way of stepping up in our community … it's an inspiration to us all.”
Trimble referred to the award as the “Moving Mountains Award,” mentioning when Smith obtained the help of the JC women's basketball team to help the Chamber of Commerce move into a new building this past year.
Other awards given during the event included the 2019 Division Chairperson of the Year which was awarded to co-recipients Pam Anderson (Education) and Judy Batton (Community Development); and Trimble was recognized for his service during 2019.
Incoming Chamber Chairwoman Patty Rivers spoke and said her motto for the new year is: “Focused on Today and Looking to Tomorrow.”
Shannon Hitt served as the mistress of ceremonies, and Dr. Smith gave the invocation and led the pledge of allegiance.
The banquet was catered by Sadler's Kitchen.