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story.lead_photo.caption Westside Eagle Observer/RANDY MOLL Kelli Deen Mathews (left) receives the citizen of the year award from Tammie Runyan, president of the Gentry Chamber of Commerce, at an awards banquet on Thursday in Gentry.

GENTRY -- The Wooden Spoon was filled with guests Thursday night when the Gentry Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards banquet at the popular restaurant.

Gentry Mayor Kevin Johnston spoke to those in attendance about Gentry's growth (with 570 new family housing units currently being planned and built in the city); of the benefits of the new ambulance service provided through a contract with Northwest Health; of the new 7/8 cent sales and use tax passed by the city to provide for ambulance and public safety services, to repair streets and to expand parks and amenities; and of citywide beautification efforts, including a spring cleanup April 6-7. He urged everyone to shop locally in Gentry so that the sales tax revenue goes to provide services and amenities in Gentry rather than somewhere else.

Following a meal prepared by the restaurant, featuring turkey furnished by Cargill, and Johnston's remarks, awards were presented for the 2019 Citizen of the Year, Organization of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Business of the Year.

Kelli Deen Mathews received the Citizen of the Year award for her volunteer coaching of Gentry High School's bowling teams. In addition to the hundreds of hours she spends coaching students to be their best in the sport, she has also donated bowling balls and shoe rentals for students.

Her parents, Ray and Blanche Deen, have allowed the school and the bowling team members to use their facilities, Hillside Lanes, at no cost to the school or the students.

Over the past two years, the Gentry girls have won two runner-up trophies; and this year, the girls were state champions in the 4A Division. The boys' team placed third in the state competition.

Organization of the Year went to the Gentry Library Gala Committee and Cheryl Smith, who headed up the Gala Committee as it held six galas over the past 10 years to support Gentry Public Library. The committee has raised close to $100,000 in support of the library, with last year's gala bringing in $25,000.

Smith has also been instrumental in starting up the Circle of Life Auxiliary League, which supports the work of Circle of Life Hospice.

Volunteer of the Year Awards were given to Ron Dodd and to Brandon and Melody Thompson.

Dodd, who received his award with tears in his eyes, was honored because of his ongoing volunteer work for the GFA Food Pantry since its inception. He helps prepare food boxes on Mondays and Tuesdays, delivers the boxes to client vehicles and makes runs to Springfield, Mo., to pick up needed food shipments from Rural Compassion.

Brandon and Melody Thompson were honored for their service to Gentry youth in coaching basketball teams for the Boys and Girls Club and soccer teams for the Gentry Youth Organization. They also serve as soccer coordinators for the GYO and spend countless hours scheduling games and referees, setting up and taking down soccer fields, and handling parental concerns and needs.

Brandon told those in attendance that he and his wife work with the children because they are the future of Gentry, and they want to teach children how to work hard and work together to succeed in life.

Dr. Desirae Self and her staff at Gentry Veterinary Clinic were awarded as the Business of the Year for their service to the residents of the Gentry community by caring for their pets since 1993. Self and her team have assisted the city with its animal control efforts, including treating injured animals and assisting the city with its trap, neuter and release program for feral cats. They have donated pet food, medications, leashes, collars and blankets to Gentry's animal shelter.

The award presentations were made by Janie Parks, executive director of the Gentry Chamber, and by Tammie Runyan, president of the Chamber.

Community on 03/13/2019

Print Headline: Gentry Chamber gives out awards

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