Top honors during the 53rd Annual Fayetteville-Lincoln County Chamber & Tourism Bureau’s Membership Banquet last week went to State Rep. Pat Marsh, the Fabulous Fifties Show, and Marvin’s Family Restaurant.

Marvin’s was honored as the 2019 Business of the Year, while the Fabulous Fifties Show received the 2019 Member of the Year award, and Marsh was named this year’s Individual Member of the Year.

The award recipients were among those nominated and then voted upon by their peers, fellow members of the FLC Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau. The field of nominees this year also included, for Business of the Year, Holt’s IGA and Pizza Inn, for Organization of the Year, the Fayetteville Rotary Club and Junior’s House Child Advocacy Center, and for Individual Member of the Year, Don Counts of Fayetteville Public Utilities and Lincoln County Property Assessor Paul Braden.

A highlight of the evening came as some of the talents, who regularly appear in the annual Fabulous Fifties Show, presented an acapella rendition of “Stand by Me” for the crowd.

Marsh and State Sen. Shane Reeves were also on hand to recognize Fayetteville’s Jim Neale, who earlier this year received the Governor’s Volunteer Star Award. A framed resolution, as well as two flags flown over the state capitol, were presented to Neale by the legislators. The award honors Tennesseans who have dedicated their time and energy to their communities.

Another highlight came as the keynote speaker, Dr. Michael L. Torrence, president of Motlow State Community College, spoke. Torrence has led the college to being ranked as the number one post-secondary institution in Tennessee and 35th in the country. The college is also ranked as number one in the state for both retention and completion.

Debra Smith of Motlow College and past president of the Chamber’s board of directors spoke, recognizing the Chamber’s many accomplishments and activities this year – “None of this would be possible without Carolyn,” she said, referring to Carolyn Denton, the Chamber’s executive director, who had opened the banquet and welcomed a large number of guests. “She does amazing work here ... I want to thank her for all of her hard work and her dedication to the Chamber.”

Smith was standing in for Paul Braden, the 2018-19 president of the Chamber, who recently had surgery and was unable to attend.

Also speaking was Matt Slayton of Lincoln County Farm Bureau Park City, the incoming Chamber president, who commended Braden’s service this year – “Paul has been an outstanding president for the Chamber,” he said. “He’s probably one of the most intelligent and articulate guys I think I’ve ever been around, but he’s also humble and you know just by talking to him that he really loves this community. He’s not a bad musician either.”

Slayton also praised Denton and Sara Jo Pierce for their work at the Chamber and went on to recognize outgoing directors, Debra Smith of Motlow and Dr. Bill Health of the Lincoln County Department of Education, and highlight the upcoming year.

Michelle Donaldson of Spray’s Jewelers and Melissa Burt of Burt & Co. Southern Real Estate, who stepped down as directors this year, were recognized as well. Filling in the remainder of their terms are Samantha Freeman of the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Senior Center, and Rujena Dotson of Fayetteville City Schools.

In addition to Slayton, the Chamber’s executive board is comprised of Justin Harwell, FirstBank; Hope DeJarnatt, Higgins Funeral Home; Brian Reeves, Fayetteville Public Utilities; and Braden, past president.

Other directors include Garrett Honea, attorney at law; Laura Mayer, Clothe Our Kids; Jim Neale; Kevin Posey of Lincoln County Vending; Josh Richardson, First National Bank; and Jennie Schutte-Patrick, Pilaroc Farms.

Ex-officio officers are County Mayor Bill Newman, City Mayor Michael Whisenant, Alderman Jeff Alder, Commissioner Mark Mitchell, Debra Smith, Dr. Bill Health, Rujena Dotson, and Laura Monks of TCAT Shelbyville.

State Rep. Pat Marsh

Originally of Lincoln County, Marsh serves the 67th district, representing Bedford and a portion of Lincoln County. First elected to the House in 2009, he chairs the utility subcommittee and sits on the commerce committee, agriculture and natural resources committee, public service and employee subcommittee, and the joint fiscal review committee.

He is also the co-owner of Big G Express in Shelbyville, which employs over 650 people and operates more than 500 trucks throughout the country. Pat and his wife, Mary, are actively involved in the community and live in Shelbyville. They have two sons, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren, with another one the way.

Fabulous Fifties Show

The Fabulous Fifties Show is currently planning its 34th annual production, which will be performed in March of 2020. Proceeds have benefited about 150 cancer patients here in Lincoln County. In addition, the show helps other cancer patients within the seven-county area of the Multi-County Cancer Support Network.

Mickie Bigham, who along with Lucy Cowley and Cary Sullivan have been involved in each of the shows since it began and whose daughters and grandsons have also been in the show, spoke, recalling how the show got its start when the late Peggy Mann saw a variety show in Shelbyville and decided one needed to be done here. Asking Cary Sullivan to organize ticket sales and talent, the show was presented in its first year in 1987.

The show’s incredible draw for the community, bringing tour buses in each year from multiple states, was highlighted, as well as the show’s growth in performances and talents over the years.

“We hope that we can raise funds for many years to come,” she said. “We just like to give back, to help anybody that has this disease, and we are extremely honored for this nomination and the win – thank you so much.”

Marvin’s Family Restaurant

Also a big draw to the city is Marvin’s, known for its delicious fried chicken, hand-breaded catfish, and “must have” butter roll. The restaurant, located at 4130 Thornton Taylor Parkway, is owned by Dan Holt, who also owns Holt’s IGA and Pizza Inn, the two other businesses nominated for the honor.

Marvin’s is managed by Beverly Smith, who has a team of about 45 people there, said Holt. “They work very hard,” he said. “I’m as proud of them as any group of people that we have. They do a fabulous job and want to treat you right every time you walk through that door.”

Holt went on to recall difficult days and the struggles for the young family of six early on.

“In 1990, my wife, myself and our four children lived in a single-wide trailer in Wartrace, Tenn.,” he said. “Things were pretty tough in those days. With four kids, I was the only one who could work. One day, I can remember, my wife and I loaded the kids and went down to a place that we referred to as the food stamp office.

“I remember pulling in and looking at her and saying, I can’t go in, I can’t do this,” he said. “We went home, and that day we made a plan. She was going to pray a lot, and I was going to work a lot. And she prayed every day, and I worked every day, and I’m not talking about five days a week every-day; I’m talking about seven days a week every-day, because that’s what it took to get us out of the hole.

“It was working. We were doing pretty good, and on Feb. 1st of 2002, we moved here to Fayetteville. This is where I will live the rest of my life.”

Holt went on to share other stories, including some from his 30 years of officiating basketball, football, soccer, baseball and softball. Among those was a game in which his daughter played, he said, adding that it was that night he found out what a terrible umpire he was – “Because as soon as we got home, my wife told me all about it,” he said, as the crowd laughed. “I called a strike on her baby.

“In telling you the stories, I just want you to know that I’m very thankful for where we’re at,” he said. “Very thankful to God, number one, because he is the source of all of our blessings. I’m thankful to my family, not only because you love me, but because you’ve worked as hard as I have, and I appreciate all of that.

“Thank you, Lincoln County, that you’ve done business with me. I really appreciate each and every one of you. We want to give back as much as you’ve ever given to us. And I’m thankful, too, for our team. The ones who didn’t win tonight, I thank you just as much as Marvin’s here – y’all do a great job.”

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