Chamber presents Man/Woman of
Year, Community Service awards

November 16, 2016 Edition

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Tonjia Miles
Frank Owens
Jerry Haynes

Frank Owens, Walnut Ridge Fire Chief, and Tonjia Miles, administrator of The Children's Shelter in Walnut Ridge, have been named the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce's 2016 Man and Woman of the Year. Jerry Haynes, math teacher and club sponsor at Walnut Ridge High School, was honored with the Chamber's Community Service Award. These and other awards were presented at the annual Chamber banquet held Thursday at noon at The Studio.

Dina Rose, chair of the Chamber board, announced the awards, while Gretchen Hunt and Brett Cooper made the presentations.

Woman of the Year

Tonjia Miles, the 2016 Woman of the Year is a former teacher and now serves as administrator of The Children's Shelter in Walnut Ridge.

She is a graduate of Hoxie High School, attended Williams Baptist College for two years and earned her bachelor's degree in education from Arkansas State University. She and her husband are very active in their church, where he has served as pastor. She is also an active member of Rotary.

Prior to her current position, she taught sixth grade for 16 years at Ridgefield Christian School. "But her most fulfilling and rewarding role came four years ago when she became the face and the voice of hundreds of innocent young children from all over the state who have been pulled from their homes for reasons that were no fault of their own," stated Rose.

"This facility could not function without a leader with the qualities of passion, caring, patience, kindness and a loving heart, all of which she has, she said, adding, "It takes a very special kind of person to take on such a role and do it so well ..."

Man of the Year

Frank Owens, the 2016 Man of the Year, served as a volunteer firefighter in Sedgwick, Hoxie and Walnut Ridge before becoming full-time with the Walnut Ridge Fire Department in 2000, where he now serves as chief.

Owens has become a leader in his field with more than two decades of experience and has played a big role in the revitalization and preparation of Walnut Ridge for the future, Rose noted.

A former cattle rancher, who served on the Lawrence County Fair Board, Owens was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to the Arkansas Fire Protection Services Board in 2015. He is a member of the Arkansas State Firefighters Association, Arkansas Association of Fire Chiefs, attended the National Fire Academy, trained to the level of Over the Road Specialist in Hazmat through the National Security and Response Training Center and was most recently appointed to the ASU Disaster Training Advisory Board.

A co-worker and friend of many years said that Owens always has his employees' best interests in the front of his mind. He not only has a good working relationship with his employees, but he has a good working relationship with city and county officials and all agencies and organizations with which he works.

"Because of his work ethic and personality, along with his calm and rational demeanor, he has been a catalyst for unity and cooperation in our communities. He has earned the admiration and respect of area leaders and of his co-workers, many of whom are here today in support of him," stated Rose in her announcement.

Service Award

Jerry Haynes, the recipient of the 2016 Community Service Award, "has become a symbol of community service and volunteerism for all who know him," said Rose.

Now in his 10th year of teaching math in the Lawrence County School District, Haynes has served as sponsor of the Key Club for the past six years, Student Council sponsor for two years and senior class sponsor for two years.

He was voted Walnut Ridge High School Teacher of the Year in both 2011 and 2015, and was in the top 10 for Arkansas Teacher of the Year in 2015.

Through his leadership, Key Club is the most active student group on the WRHS campus. The Key Club members log in many volunteer hours through service projects, fundraisers and campus activities. His goal for students is to carry on the habit of volunteerism and serving their communities into adulthood.

"His 'can do' attitude has no limits," Rose stated. "He walks with a limp because of an injury from his previous occupation, but he does not let that slow him down. He is an inspiration to his students, co-workers and all of us who have been fortunate enough to get to know him."

"Whenever we, the Chamber, have an event where we need extra help, everyone instantly says "Jerry Haynes" and the Key Club! That's what happens when you are so good," she added.

Mr. Haynes and his wife, Amanda, often provide their expertise, time and personal items to decorate for banquets, prom, graduation and other special events. Their son, Jordan, often pitches in as well.

He attends ballgames and functions in support of his students as if they were his own children. He treats his students with respect and easily earns their respect in return.

"The impact that Mr. Haynes has had on our community and the lives of the students he works with is immeasurable," Rose said.

Attending the banquet in support of Mr. Haynes were his current Key Club officers.

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