By Louie Graves
Citizens and businesses that have enriched the community were recognized Monday night at the annual Nashville Chamber of Commerce awards banquet.
The banquet was held for the first time at the new Nashville High School cafeteria, and the house was packed.
Woman of the Year honors went to Gail Harris Hearnsberger, recognized for her assistance on many civic projects including support for schools. At her Trendsetters Salon, she has hosted book signings. She has been a part of successful events benefitting the Howard Memorial Hospital Foundation, Howard Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and Howard County Children’s Center.
Presenter Joan McCrary, last year’s winner, described Hearnsberger as “always beautiful inside” and willing to give her time and talents for special events. The honoree was NHS homecoming queen. She and her husband, Dr. John Hearnsberger, frequently host visiting physicians whom the hospital is recruiting.
“The things I do don’t require an award,” she said in an emotional acceptance.
Man of the Year honors went to Nashville News-Leader editor and publisher John Robert Schirmer. Presenting the award was last year’s winner Don Fletcher, who described Schirmer as being a “gentleman rancher,” as opposed to being a gentleman farmer.
Schirmer was recognized for being a mentor to students interested in writing and photography. He still teaches an advanced history course at the high school. During his time as sponsor of school publications he conducted workshops for budding journalists and was a winner of awards from both the Arkansas High School Press Association and the Arkansas Press Association. He is a Baptist deacon. In 2016 he purchased Graves Publishing Co. newspapers at Nashville, Murfreesboro, Glenwood and Mt. Ida.
Schirmer admitted to being a big fan of all Scrapper sports, and said that any time the Scrapper teams lost, it must have been the fault of the referees.
The Orange & Black Education award was presented by last year’s winner, Joy Freel, to Stacia Petty, who teaches music in grades K-3 in Nashville. Petty brings her students to perform at events in town and in the park, in addition to numerous musical programs at schools. Freel said that Petty’s efforts went far above and beyond the job requirements.
In her emotional comments after receiving the award, Petty said that it was a blessing to go to work every day.
Outgoing chamber president Noelle Couch was presented a plaque by the new board president, Will Martin.
Other citizen awards included:
Lifetime Achievement Award — Paul Britt.
Memorial Recognition Award — the late Don Coulter.
Community Hero Award — Ginger and Charles Blue.
Remodeled and new business buildings were recognized:
New — Kids’s Dental Center.
Remodeled business buildings: Simple Simon’s Pizza, Peachtree Coin Laundry, Ivan Smith Furniture, Ruth Steeley Insurance.
Nashville High School cheerleaders were recognized for being state champions.
Pre-meal music was provided by Bob Cargile; the invocation was by Jerome Cooper, music minister at Immanuel Baptist Church. As their annual community service project, members of Chapter AM PEO served the meal and cleaned the hall afterward.