The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

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January 27, 2010

14 nominated for Citizen of the Year

Fourteen Walker County residents have been nominated to receive The Huntsville Item’s 13th annual Citizen of the Year Award.

The deadline to submit a nomination was 5 p.m. Monday when five of the 14 were submitted.

The number of nominations received for the 2009 award doubles the figure received for the 2008 award and is the highest number in recent years.

The award honors an individual or individuals who have made significant contributions to their communities or Walker County during 2009.

Nominations were received for John French, Sam Houston State University Political Science Junior Fellows, Sally Nelson, Diane Carpenter, Brooke Addams, Ron Cleere, John and Kari French, Mike Yawn, Marie and Sam Martinez, Linda Pease, James Baine, Lanny Ray, Charlotte Oleinik and Wayne Barrett.

Four finalists will be selected by The Item’s Readers Advisory Board when it meets today at The Item and those four will be announced.

The Citizen of the Year will be announced at the banquet Feb. 25 at the Walker Education Center, starting at 6 p.m.

The four finalists are asked to attend the banquet in addition to the other nominees.

The three finalists and Citizen of the Year will be featured in the Sunday, Feb. 28, publication of Walker County Proud — a special edition of The Item.

“I think that is a good deal that we have 14 citizens to vote on,” said Item Publisher Dennis Garrison. “That is the most we’ve had in recent history that I am aware of and I have worked here seven years. I don’t know if we have ever had that many.

“I thought last year was phenomenal but this year is even better yet. I think it speaks well of the community that we have 14 citizens out there that could qualify to be a citizen of the year.

“I think that is a good thing for Huntsville. I think we are very fortunate to have at least 14 people who qualify to be a citizen of the year.”

Longtime educator Morris Johnson was honored as Walker County 2008 Citizen of the Year.

He was among four finalists selected, including Scott Atnip, Charlotte Oleinik and the late Tom Hart.

Other Citizen of the Year recipients have been Jane Monday, 1997; Department of Public Safety Cpl. Terry Vogler, 1998; Ila Gaines, 1999; Gene Myrick, 2000; Norman Ward, 2001; Poncho Roberts, 2002; Leslie Michaelson, 2003; Ron Randleman, 2004; Mary Frances Park, 2005; Jimmy and Mandy Spivey, 2006; and George D. Miles Jr., 2007.

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