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Miss Athelyne C. Banks Citizen of the Year award recipient Jimmy Smith, left, with District Judge David Breland.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Miss Athelyne C. Banks Citizen of the Year award recipient Jimmy Smith, left, with District Judge David Breland.

Smith named citizen of year at chamber banquet

By Eric Fleischauer ∑ 340-2435

Jimmy Smith was almost overlooked for the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year award not because he was undeserving, but because everyone thought he had received it long ago.

District Judge David Breland, who presented the award, said when the awards committee realized its error, it "was unanimous in the belief that this was a vast oversight , which needed immediate correction."

The correction came at the chamber's 76th annual meeting Tuesday.

Smith, an owner of Jimmy Smith Jewelers, was the first recipient of the Athylene C. Banks Decatur-Morgan County Citizen of the Year Award, renamed in honor of educator and community leader Athylene Banks, who died last year.

Smith said he had the greatest respect for Banks.

"Miss Banks was my friend. She was a role model. ... I've had a lot of good role models," he said, including his mother, a football coach and officers while he was in the military.

He thanked his family for their support.

"I've got a whole lot of good things I'd like to tell you about them," he told the audience, "but you don't have the time to hear it."

Smith's pastor at First United Methodist Church, the Rev. Terry Greer, nominated him for the award.

"You ought to be able to look out there when you are preaching and see Jimmy smiling all the time," Greer said. "And when he goes to sleep, Barbara gives him the nudge. I'm telling the truth, aren't I, brother?"

Smith has lived in Decatur more than 50 years. He is a past director and past chairman of the board of the Chamber of Commerce.

Smith played a lead role in attracting the headquarters of the Racking Horse Breeders Association to the area. His community service includes present and former memberships in Decatur Jaycees, River City Kiwanis Club and The Rotary Club of Decatur Daybreak. He has served on the Calhoun Community College Foundation and Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts boards.

He is a recipient of the Spirit of America's Barrett C. Shelton Sr. Freedom Award.

"I've been asked many times if I was ready to retire," Smith said after Breland presented the award. "After tonight, I'm just getting ready to get started again."

Commodore of the Year

The Rosie Hennessy Award for the Commodore of the Year went to Linda Robinson. Chamber President John Seymour congratulated her for her leadership in chamber fund-raising efforts, noting that she personally raised $32,000 in the most recent fundraising drive.

"It's been a wonderful networking opportunity for me," Robinson said. "I should also say that I've never been to a Commodore event where there was only one Commodore present. It's always a team event."

Robinson will serve on the chamber's board of directors in the coming year.

Chamberís 2007-08 Executive Committee

At the annual meeting of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, the following executive committee for 2007-08 was announced:

  • Donnie Lane (chairman).

  • Rick Paler (chairman-elect).

  • Terry Roche.

  • Larry Little.

  • Wade Weaver.

  • Norman Roby.

  • Sheila Davis.

  • Steve Sasser.

  • Joseph Wynn.

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