Wednesday, January 30, 2013

TOP STORY >> Cabot chamber honors its top members

Leader staff writer

At its 52nd annual banquet, the Cabot Chamber of Commerce had a tie—the first one anyone can recall—in the voting for its person of the year, so the group honored two Friday night.

A firefighter and a National Guard sergeant were both recognized as the member of the year and an interior decorating firm was selected as the business of the year.

Fire Capt. David Walton, 33, who has lived in Cabot since he was four, was nominated by Vikki Parker. In her nomination letter, Parker said Walton exhibits what she believed “to be the example of what a Member of the Year is. David has been at all our events in the city to serve in any way that he can in whatever capacity he is needed. He truly has a servant’s heart.”

Parker went on to say that Walton “helps at Cabot Fest, hands out our Air Force fliers, is always there to help with Relay for Life and so many times he helps maintain our chamber sign by cleaning it and keeping it in working order. In my opinion David Walton is Member of the Year hands down.”

Walton was shocked when his name was announced. “All of us who were nominated were told to be there, but I didn’t know what I was nominated for or who nominated me. I don’t do these things I do for publicity, I do them because I enjoy them and I love Cabot,” Walton said.

The fire captain, who is celebrating his 15th year with the local department, firmly believes Cabot is the place to be. “I work two jobs and they are both in Cabot and anything someone wants to do can be done right here in Cabot,” he said. Walton is so strongly connected to Cabot that he married a Cabot girl. They have one daughter.

Walton said he really enjoys being an ambassador for Cabot and has put together a “Best of Cabot” display for the last four air shows, meaning nearly a million people have seen what Cabot was to offer. “We have a permanent invite to the air show and I plan to be there as long as possible,” he said.

Walton added that as a firefighter he sees a lot of tragedies but says no community comes together and helps others like Cabot. “You should have seen the outpouring of help and donations after the Cabot Junior High North fire a few years ago or even the recent round of storms and the damage they caused. It ties in with what outgoing chamber president Teresa Durham said repeatedly during the evening, “Our motto through actions and deeds is ‘Cabot Cares.’”

But Walton wasn’t the only member to be honored, as judges decided, and the chamber agreed, that Sgt. First Class Robbie McDonald was also member of the year.

Billye Everett, the chamber’s executive director, said it’s the first time since she’s been connected with the chamber that there’s been a tie and she couldn’t be prouder. “And no one else can recall a time before that,” she said.

McDonald was nominated by Gina Quattlebaum. She said McDonald, a member of the Army National Guard, “truly has a heart to serve.”

She went on, “Not only is he the first to volunteer for any Chamber event, but also volunteers and participates in many other civic events. Sergeant McDonald, a deacon and Sunday school teacher at First Baptist, is always willing to help in whatever capacity needed whether that is taking out the trash or participating in planning the event, nothing is too big or too small.”

McDonald, who lost his wife a few years ago to cancer, said he’s always had a giving heart and enjoyed helping others, but has stepped it up since her death. “Losing her just made me look at life more preciously,” he said.

The sergeant is a newcomer to Cabot, arriving in town in 2009 to run the armory. But it didn’t take him long to get active in the church and the community. His church involvement spread to civic involvement and working at the armory got him involved with the chamber. “People here are really military friendly. We have lots of retirees in the area and with the base nearby, the city has just treated me like I’ve always lived here,” McDonald said.

As the father of two boys, he is excited about the strong school district and its relationship with the community. “The school district here is just awesome,” he said.

Accepting the award Friday night, McDonald simply said, “I just like to help. Thanks a lot.”

The chamber’s business of the year award went to Nina Butler Interiors.

Nina Butler, who will celebrate her 27th wedding anniversary later this year, started her interior design business in 1981. It is a full service decorator shop.

“I have been blessed to see my small business grow over the years by striving to offer superior customer service,” Butler said.

As busy as it keeps her, Butler finds time to stay active in the community. She serves on the Cabot Scholarship Foundation committee, Centennial Bank advisory board and the Cabot Panther Foundation advisory board.

Like McDonald, she is very active with First Baptist Church and served two terms on the State of Arkansas Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board.

Butler said, “Cabot is my home town and I find it rewarding to work and volunteer with the fine people of this community. It is special to know that my son was the third generation in my family to graduate from Cabot Public Schools. The Cabot Chamber of Commerce, area churches and our Cabot Public Schools have always networked to build our community. She added, “I am thrilled to be able to work in my hometown with contractors and customers who I think of as friends.”

Besides recognizing the member and business of the year, the chamber also had a changing of the guard, with Durham turning over the gavel to new president Karen Madding.

Other chamber officers for 2013 include Mark Stocks as president-elect, Jeff Spann as vice president and Kenneth James as treasurer. Board members are James Hertzog, Karen Knight, Stephanie May, Priscilla Morris and Vikki Parker.