‘Civic Night’ honors community involvement

Williamsburg native Nick Wilson, who won season 37 of “Survivor” was the guest speaker for Tuesday’s Hazard-Perry County Chamber of Commerce annual Civic Night. Several Perry County residents were honored Tuesday night at the event. Special awards were also given to members of the community and Hazard Community and Technical College honored several school districts.

The Hazard-Perry County Chamber of Commerce held its 67th annual Civic Night on Tuesday, April 30, in the First Federal Center at Hazard Community and Technical College. During the celebration several within the county were honored for their work with and for the community.

The guest speaker for civic night, Nick Wilson, the winner of season 37 of the television show “Survivor,” and a native of Whitley County, Kentucky. Wilson was known as the “Country Lawyer” during his time on “Survivor: David Vs. Goliath” and went on to become the first winner from the state of Kentucky.

Wilson was named a Duke of Hazard by Mayor Donald “Happy” Mobelini during the event. Wilson said that, while he isn’t from Perry County, he sees the Appalachian Kentucky region as a family and that kept him going while enduring starvation, harsh weather and isolation during the filming of “Survivor.”

“I would think about how many people back home would be proud of me,” said Wilson. “That’s really what kept me going.”

Four special awards were given out to individuals or organizations who had made a positive impact in the community. The Community Youth Award was presented to Jane Olinger for her service to underprivileged children in the county.  

Mobelini said that many children would not be able to have reliable transportation to extracurricular activities if not for Olinger.

The Hope Award was presented to Ben Braman of Pathfinders for his continued work in establishing trail networks within Perry County. Braman was instrumental in the development and construction of the hiking trails at the Perry County Park and the Medical Mile at the Perry County public Library and the Medical Mall. The Community Educational Award was presented to Perry Promise Neighborhood for their continued effort to provide opportunities to both public and private schools within Perry County. The Community Impact Award was awarded to the Perry County Foundation.

Hazard Community and Technical College also presented awards. Four school systems were honored with the Educational Leadership Award. HCTC President, Dr. Jennifer Lindon, recognized Jackson City, Hazard City, Knott County, and Leslie County school systems for their work with EntreEd, HCTC and the Appalachian Regional Commission in entrepreneurship.

The HCTC Distinguished Service Award was awarded to the SilverLiner industrial company and its owner, Chris Tomlinson. Accepting the honor on behalf of Tomlinson was Sean Cochran of Pikeville. The HCTC Outstanding Education Leadership Award was presented to Dr. Kathy Smoot, retired provost and vice president of Academic Services.

Young Woman of the Year was presented by last years winner, Morgan Kirk, to Mae Humiston. Humiston moved to Perry County as an Americorps VISTA a few years ago and since then has build a non-profit organization from the ground up. Redbud Financial Alternatives provides fair loans and individualized financial education. Young Man of the Year was presented by last years winner, Tim Deaton, to Max Mitchell. Mitchell is a commissioner for the city of Hazard, the Executive Vice-President of First Trust Bank and has served on a number of different boards in the community. Woman of the Year was presented by last years winner, Kay Miller, to Dr. Fran Feltner, Director of UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health.

Man of the Year was presented by Mayor Mobelini to Toby Dawhare, the girls soccer coach for Hazard City Schools. The William D. Gorman Humanitarian Award was also presented by Mayor Mobelini to Benny, Michelle, Hunter and Lucy Feltner. Mobelini said the Feltner family was known throughout Perry County for their willingness and joy to above and beyond to help those in need.

Jan Gibson presented both the Youth of the Year award to Hayden Gibson and the Teen of the Year award to Whitney Johnson for their essays detailing the good they could do as citizens. Hayden Gibson spoke about the importance of small acts of kindness while Johnson focused on standing up to bullying.

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