HAZARD – Organizers are gearing up for Hazard and Perry County’s annual event to honor local residents who have gone above and beyond in service to their community.
This year’s Hazard Perry County Civic Night, hosted by the Hazard Perry County Chamber of Commerce, will take place at Hazard Community and Technical College on May 8 with guest speaker Tim Farmer of Kentucky Afield, and again several people will be honored for their service during 2011.
Civic Night in Perry County has a long history dating back to February 23, 1953, when the late Dewey Daniel was named the first “Outstanding Citizen” in Hazard for his service to the local community during the previous year. Daniel was at the time president of Peoples Bank, and, according to a past Hazard Herald article from February 24 of that year, worked sincerely to improve Hazard and Perry County by advocating for better roads and other improvements to infrastructure, as well as helping with local organizations such as the Red Cross.
Also awarded during that first Civic Night was Cleveland, Ohio native Carl Weiss, manager of the former Majors Department Store in Hazard, who first came to Hazard in 1949.
Those two men set the standard for those who followed, and since that first year honors for civic duty have been awarded year in and year out to other familiar names such as Roy G. Eversole, Julius Lasslo, F.B. Bullard and William D. Gorman. It was in 1970 that the chamber also began honoring local women for their roles in community service as well, and some of those women include Sister Virginia Farrell, Betty Morton and Evelyn Wood.
Betsy Clemons, a past honoree herself, serves as the chamber’s executive director, and said she views Civic Night as the one time of the year when the community gets together to recognize those who have contributed their own time and effort to make Hazard and Perry County a better place to live.
“We try to recognize a person that gives outstanding service beyond their job that they get paid to do,” Clemons said. “Civic Night is a way to thank and honor a person’s commitment for their contribution as a volunteer.”
Clemons, along with Chamber President Janet Smith (also a past honoree) as well as chamber members and officials with the City of Hazard, annually put in many hours in preparing for Civic Night, from the initial planning stages in January and February to booking a speaker, and along with a committee, choosing those who will be honored during the ceremony. This year’s honorees will, as is tradition, be announced at Civic Night.
While the reason for the event is to honor service and volunteerism, Civic Night has also attracted well-known speakers in Kentucky each year. The first speaker in 1953 was Harper Gatton, executive vice president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and speakers since then have included a wide array of past governors such as Bert T. Combs and Louie B. Nunn, to famous sports figures such as Fran Curci and Cawood Ledford.
Other awards are presented during the night as well, including the newest, the William D. Gorman Humanitarian Award, which last year went to Halfway to Hazard duo Chad Warrix and David Tolliver for their work in raising money for the Buckhorn Children’s Center.
Honoring the community’s civic leaders is a way to give back to those who have put so much effort in improving their community, Clemons added, and it’s because of people like these that she believes this community is a special one.
“What makes Hazard and Perry County so special are the people that live here and work together to give back to our community,” she said. “This is why Hazard is such a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
The 2012 Hazard Perry County Civic Night is slated for Tuesday, May 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the First Federal Center of Hazard Community and Technical College. Tickets are $20 per person. For more information on purchasing a ticket, call the chamber at 606-439-2659.