Debra Grover was named the recipient of the 2016 Record-Herald Citizen of the Year at the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce’s annual luncheon Wednesday afternoon.
Grover, a Core intervention teacher at Miami Trace Elementary School, was nominated by co-worker Amy Ford and the rest of the school’s fifth grade team. She also works at Miami Trace High School with the credit flexibility educational program, which is designed to broaden the scope of curricular options available to students.
“Perhaps you have heard of Debra, she donates her time and resources with Altrusa, the Humane Society, the Farmers Market, the Academic Boosters Club at Miami Trace, and in her church, the Presbyterian church in town,” read Ford’s nomination form. “Maybe you have seen her working at the Relay for Life walk with her lemon shake-ups. Her passion is people, it is evident in what she thinks and does.”
The nomination went on to say: “You will never meet a more selfless person. To say that she is community minded is an understatement. This woman from Texas works tirelessly to better our Fayette County community. She loves the people and children with whom she works. She works through her lunch to help the struggling students on different assignments. She has a special place in her heart for the at-risk child and does everything she can to help them have successes.
“She organizes countless skating parties to raise money for the various charities in our community. She supports many fundraisers sponsored by various organizations. Her van is always full of things to take to The Well and Goodwill. She works tirelessly on the Vacation Bible School for her church. Debra has a positive can-do attitude and is always willing to help. Her dedication to our community will last for years to come.”
Record-Herald general manager Katie Bottorff presented the Citizen of the Year plaque to a surprised Grover during the luncheon, which was held at the Mahan Building.
“This is just not anything I expected,” Grover said. “I don’t know what to say because that description of me sounded like you were talking about my mom. I used to ask her when I was a kid, ‘Why are we going to another Red Cross training, why do you need my help?’ And she said, ‘The Lord put us on this earth for only one reason and that’s to serve others. And she’s right. Since moving to Fayette County, there are just so many wonderful people who I strive to be like and a lot of them are here in this room. I hope I’ve made my friends and family at Trace proud.”
Also during Wednesday’s luncheon, Jim Gusweiler, owner of Gusweiler GMC & Toyota, was the recipient of the Chamber’s prestigious Business Person of the Year award.
“This is very exciting for us,” Gusweiler said. “Gusweiler’s has been a Chamber member since 1984 and we started in 1984 in a trailer with just a Chevrolet franchise with seven employees. In 1986, we were fortunate enough to get Buick, GMC and Cadillac franchises. In 1990, we ended up being awarded a Toyota franchise. So here we are in 2016 and we’ve got two very nice car dealership showrooms out on 41 and 35, and now we have 65 full-time and part-time employees. It has been a great run.”
Gusweiler’s guest at the luncheon was Mike Griffith, the parts manager at Gusweiler, who was the dealership’s very first hire 32 years ago.
Other major awards presented were: Large Business of the Year award to Miami Trace Local Schools; Small Business of the Year award to Weade Realtors & Auctioneers; Quality of Life award to Hospice of Fayette County; and Innovation in Business award to Practical Wellness.
The featured speaker at the event was Don Scott of Scott Antique Markets. Scott Antique Markets will be holding another antique extravaganza June 24-26 at the Fayette County Fairgrounds.
Fayette County Chamber of Commerce President Whitney Gentry presided over the luncheon and made the award presentations. Chamber board chair for the past year, John Hedges of Flagway, passed the gavel to the new chair, Merleen Van Dyke of Jim Van Dyke’s Automotive & Tire Center.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica