The Business Man and Woman of the Year were among many honorees at the 96th Annual Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet hosted at Central Baptist Church March 30.

Rob Gowin, owner of Sadler’s Kitchen, was named 2020 Business Man of the Year. Sadler’s Kitchen is located at 101 S. Bonner St. in downtown Jacksonville and is well-known for its icebox pies.

Darrell Dement, 2019 Outstanding Businessman recipient, presented the award to Gowin.

“While running an extremely successful business...Rob also finds time to be a civil servant. He’s on the Jacksonville city council.,” Dement said. “He also helps with a lot of charity operations.”

Gowin serves as District 4 Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem.

“Of course, the most notable thing about Rob is not what you see and hear as his accomplishments, but it’s the little things he does for others that nobody ever sees.”

Gowin responded to the honor in a Facebook post.

“I am truly honored that I was chosen as Businessman of the Year. I am thankful to my fantastic employees for accompanying me on this journey, especially through the past year. Thank you Mom and Dad for the values that you taught Toby, Brian, and me,” Gowin stated.

“Here are a few ideas each of us should embrace: charity, grace, acceptance, spirituality, kindness, love, and gratitude. Every day I try to bring beauty to my small little corner of this world, and I strive to see our little town grow and prosper. Blessings to each of you. Thank you all for making space in your world for me.”

Stacy Boyer, co-owner of Picture This, was named 2020 Business Woman of the Year. Picture This offers monogrammed gifts, custom picture framing and clothing alterations. The business is located at 111 E. Commerce Street in downtown.

Patty Rivers, 2019 Business Woman of the Year, presented the award.

“She is co-owner of a store downtown and has been in business for 12 years,” Rivers said. “They consider their business a ministry and hold Bible studies and prayer groups.”

“Stacy does remain instrumental in many city events such as the downtown Trick or Treat, the Tomato Fest, the rodeo street dance and the Mingle and Jingle at Christmastime.”

Boyer was unable to attend the awards luncheon to receive her award. Chamber staff will ensure she is presented the award at a later date.

Dr. Mike Miller, pastor of Central Baptist and emcee for the event, announced the 2020 Citizens of the Year.

“The Chamber’s Outstanding Citizen Award is going to look a little different this year because I think we all know, coming through 2020, we know who our outstanding citizens were. The ones we need to recognize again and again and again. These are the people, when we were faced with a pandemic and really had no idea how severe this was going to be, kept getting up, kept going to work, kept putting their lives on the line every single day, day in, day out because that is what they do.”

Dr. Mike Smith, 2019 Outstanding Citizen recipient, announced this year’s award recipients.

“It was indeed an honor last year to receive this award and I’m excited to be able to present it to these who definitely deserve it.”

Those recognized as 2020 Citizens of the Year included At Home HealthCare, Cherokee County Public Health Department, Christus Mother Frances Hopital-Jacksonville, Country Place Senior Living of Jacksonville, Family Circle of Care, Famioy First Clinic & Urgent Care, Hospice of East Texas, Jacksonville Care Clinic, Jacksonville Fire Department, Jacksonville Healthcare Center, Jacksonville Police Department, Legacy at Jacksonville, Quick Visit Urgent Care and UT Health Jacksonville.

Patty Rivers, 2020 Chairwoman of the Board, presented four awards.

She presented the Division Chair of the Year to Britian McKinney.

“I love brainstorming with her. We’ve had great conversations, a lot of fun. She’s a huge asset,” Rivers said.

“One of the things her and her committee did this year was to change the business after hours to a morning event so more people, working adults, can get to these events.”

The Chairwoman’s Award was given to Anthony Williams.

“The idea came up for a golf tournament and Anthony Williams, when we had a meeting to get the information and the ideas together, Anthony just lit up, took the ball and rolled with it,” Rivers said.

“He made everything so easy. He was definitely instrumental to its success.”

A new award, Rookie of the Year, is a recognition of a newcomer that takes an active role in the chamber and chamber-sponsored events.

Dillon Rodriguez of Texas National Bank was designated 2020 Rookie of the Year.

Rodriguez attended events, was involved in leadership and participated in the Citizen’s Police Academy, according to Rivers.

Another new award this year was the Unsung Hero. Shelley “Shamrock” Cleaver was selected as the recipient for his support of the chamber and his consistent attendance at chamber events.

Rivers highlighted the Chamber’s accomplishments of the past year including:

• The highest recorded attendance of Coffee with a Cop

• Facilitating the County Business luncheon

• Raising $20,000 for the Back to School event and filling over 700 backpacks with school supplies for JISD students

• Establishment of the annual golf fundraising event

• A successful Mingle and Jingle

• Over 60 entries in the Christmas parade

The Chamber ended the year with 423 members.

“It’s only because of our volunteers, our Chamber members, our sponsors, that we were able to accomplish any of those things,” Rivers said.

Rivers introduced the 2021 Chairwoman of the Board, Shannon Hitt.

Hitt first recognized Rivers for her guidance of the Chamber during the pandemic and then thanked the audience for choosing her as 2021 Chairwoman.

“I’m excited to step into this decade with you, with an emphasis on leadership,” Hitt said.

“Leadership begins with yourself and flows into those around you through your example. The leadership of this community has done a tremendous job over the past year, making great changes to our city. These changes range from additions and improvements to Jackson Street; the refurbishment of the downtown area, city pool and parks; and the addition of several new businesses, including our very own Chick-fil-A.”

“The leadership that is present here today is the leadership that is responsible for continuing to promote and grow our little oasis here in east Texas. I want to challenge each of you to be a leader of Jacksonville’s future,” Hitt said.

“I’m looking forward to the year ahead. I’m looking forward to seeing what growth will occur. I’m looking forward to seeing our downtown area completely transformed. I’m looking forward to graduating the 34th class of Jacksonville Leadership Institute and starting the 35th and I’m looking forward to watching our current leadership develop future leadership,” Hitt said. “Our future is looking bright and our leadership is stronger than ever.”

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