Top honors of the evening went to (l to r): Educator of the Year Cindy Whitehead, Young Citizen of the Year Noelia Delgado, Chamber Member of the Year Lake Whitney Resorts and Golf, accepted by Jimmy Seay, and Citizen of the Year Kay Harris, who was unable to attend and is not pictured.

Chamber of Commerce recognizes award winners at annual banquet
The Lake Whitney Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards banquet Thursday evening, February 7, at the HILCO Civic & Events Center in Itasca.
The chamber recognized outstanding community members who make valuable contributions to the Lake Whitney area.
The Citizen of the Year Award went to Kay Harris, who was unable to attend, and accepted by her son, District Judge Lee Harris.
Harris was recognized for her many contributions to the community, including the creation of Hill County CARES, an organization that works to create positive relationships between youth and first responders.
Chamber Director Debbie Clay said that Harris has lived in Whitney since 1998 and has a long history of service to others.
Since moving here, she has been involved in real estate sales and has been a driving force in many non-profit organizations in the county, Clay said.
She has played active roles in the Lions Club, Child Protective Services Board and the Hill County Republican Party, in addition to her most recent work with Hill County CARES.
“She’s very passionate about giving of her time to the community in any way she can,” Clay said. “We all need to make a difference, but she really does.”
The young citizen of the year was Whitney High School senior Noelia Delgado. Principal Amy Leech presented the award and recognized Noelia for her hard work at school, work and in her many volunteer positions.
Delgado is in the top 10 percent of her senior class, a standout student athlete and has spearheaded anti-bullying and suicide prevention programs at Whitney High School.
Some of Delgado’s activities include Student Council, National Honor Society, PALS, powerlifting and tennis.
She also does volunteer work, having given her time to Our Daily Bread Food Bank, Lake Whitney Physical Therapy, Lake Whitney Public Library, Town Hall Estates, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, White Bluff Chapel and Red Cross blood drives.
“Through her actions we have truly experienced a positive culture shift at Whitney High School,” Leech said.
The principal said that she does all of this while working many hours a week at Tres Hermanos in Whitney, and she excels at all that she does.
“Whitney High School is a better place due to Noelia’s presence as a true student leader,” Leech said. “She exemplifies the spirit of servant leadership and stands apart from other students as she holds herself to the highest standards in all of her endeavors.”
This year’s educator of the year was Cindy Whitehead, a teacher in her 19th year at Whitney Elementary School.
Whitehead currently serves as a reading specialist at the school and also taught pre-kindergarten and first grades for many years.
Principal Amber Seely spoke about her complete dedication to her students, and said that even when she is not in the classroom, she is researching teaching methods and looking for new strategies to serve students.
“She comes to work each day seeing all of the possibilities and focusing on her students’ needs and how she can inspire other teachers to be the best that they can be,” Seely said.
The principal credited Whitehead for her efforts to improve reading skills and test scores at Whitney Elementary School.
“Cindy is an advocate for those who struggle academically and socially,” Seely said. “She takes the time to teach them about their character and how to make positive choices.”
She added, “Our students are better people because she takes the time to care.”
The Chamber Member of the Year Award went to Lake Whitney Resorts and Golf Club and owners Rodney and Sharon Hohertz.
Chamber Director Debbie Clay said that the business has gone above and beyond to promote the area and assist the chamber.
She pointed out that the resort hosted the chamber’s first barbecue cook-off in July and will host the second annual event this summer .
“They have helped the chamber in so many ways,” Clay said. “They have always helped us when we needed anything.”
She added that they have done an excellent job with the golf courses and updating the resort.
Three chamber ambassadors were recognized for their service to the chamber. Jacey Harris and Frank and Jerrie Schumacher were awarded for their efforts to promote Lake Whitney and assist the chamber.
Three Lifetime Membership Awards were given to Bill Winkleman, Thousand Trails and Carthol Marsh. They were recognized for holding membership in the chamber for 26 years, and they will now be lifetime members and have membership dues waived.
The event also included the annual live and silent auctions, which are major fund raiser for the chamber, and a buffet dinner.