Chamber honors outstanding citizens: Tim Estes named Citizen of the Year

Published 12:20 pm Thursday, April 18, 2019

STANFORD — For over 60 years, the local Chamber of Commerce has been honoring members of the community for their contributions and accomplishments at its annual awards banquet.

On Tuesday evening, over 200 people gathered at Lincoln County High School to celebrate this year’s recipients.

Tim Estes, Lincoln County High School athletic director, sports director at WPBK-FM radio, DJ and former educator, was the recipient of the evening’s top honor, being named the Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce 2019 Citizen of the Year.

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“Andrea (Miller, Chamber director) loves it when people are surprised, and I think everybody certainly was tonight,” said Estes as he stepped to the podium to accept the honor. “I should have known something was up when my wife asked me to go somewhere, instead of me asking her to go somewhere.”

Mary Friend, a member of the Chamber Board of Directors, made the presentation of the Citizen of the Year Award to Estes.

“(He) does way more than probably any of us knows,” she said. “He always puts his family, kids and the community first and he’s a wonderful Christian witness to us all. I’ve been told that no one loves Lincoln County more. When he’s not giving back to Lincoln County, you can usually find him spending time with family and his grandkids.”

Renee Knies, a Chamber Board member and former co-worker of Estes, could not have agreed more with Friend’s statement.

“Tim Estes goes above and beyond every day of his life,” she said. “He definitely has his finger on the pulse of Lincoln County. He attends more meetings than I know and provides a wonderful Christian witness to our community. Whether he is on the radio or babysitting his grand babies, he is always giving.”

Estes, who lives in Stanford with his wife, Wendy, capped a 27-year career in education upon his retirement in 2014 and he has been sports director at WPBK for many years. He took on his new role as LCHS athletic director in the summer of 2018.

Friend noted that Estes’ love of sports is just one way he has made a difference in the community.

“Tim calls all the sports games in Lincoln County that he can,” she said. “Most counties only cover 8-10 games but Tim wants to cover all at home or away games. He even sells concessions at the South Lincoln County Community Center on Saturdays.”

Estes’ commitment to Lincoln County isn’t focused solely on sports, however, with his civic pride evident in his everyday life.

“(He) attends fiscal court meetings and Stanford City Council meetings so he will be informed,” said Knies. “When asked to help someone, he is always first to do so. He delivered Thanksgiving meals on Thanksgiving Day.”

Estes, who is also a former football and track coach, said his upbringing – thanks in large part to his parents, Glenda Estes and the late Charles Estes – is what has brought him to where he is today.

“It all started when I was a kid because, and I’ve often told this, I had a drug problem,” said Estes. “When I was growing up, I was drug to school. I was drug to church. And I was drug to the woodshed when I needed it. Doug (Gooch) was talking earlier about kids that are willing to take chances and it starts at home. We’ve seen so many of our kids that just get misdirected for whatever reason that maybe a quick trip to the woodshed or a quick trip to church or a quick trip to the principal’s office might get them back on the right track. Thankfully I had that when I was growing up.”

In addition to his former and current careers, Estes has demonstrated his volunteerism and advocacy work in Lincoln County by the number of committees or boards he sits on. They include: Party At the Park, South Lincoln County Community Center, Cow Bell Days, Lincoln County Retired Teachers Association, Lincoln County Patriot Hall of Fame, Lincoln County Futures Board, Lincoln County Emergency Management Board, Relay for Life and United Way Day of Action.

“The people that came up here tonight, they don’t do this to get anything like this. No one does it other than we do love what we do and we do love LIncoln County,” said Estes. “I had the best job that anybody could have for all the years of my life. I tell people all the time, ‘Go and find the job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’”

“It is an honor to stand here and be recognized. For all of the names that have come before, for all of the great citizens that have stood here before, I feel very, very humbled to accept this award.”

The top citizen’s recognition was the last of eight awards presented to outstanding members and businesses of the Lincoln County Community during Tuesday’s banquet. In addition to the Citizen of the Year Award, the Chamber presented the Big Apple Award, the Youth Impact Award, the June King Bastin Service to the Community Award, the Farmer of the Year Award, the Health Service Award, the First Responder Award, and the Business of the Year Award.

Mike Rowe, Lincoln County Schools Superintendent, stepped to the podium to present the night’s first award – the Big Apple Award.

Agatha Manion, a French teacher at Lincoln County High School, was named the 2019 Big Apple Award winner for her lasting difference in the lives of students, faculty and the community.

“(She) excels in promoting World Language learning and serves not only as department chair at Lincoln County High School, but as our District World Language Coordinator,” he said. “Through these contacts and others, she keeps us on the cutting edge of foreign language teaching and learning. Along with her before-mentioned commitment to all things educational, most days after school there is a steady flow of students in her classroom, from the National French Honor Society to student council and, of course, her french classes, She serves as a faithful advisor and sounding board to many, many students in our district.”

Manion, a new mother, was taken aback by Rowe’s announcement.

“I wasn’t even sure if I was supposed to come up here, so thanks for putting me on the spot right at the beginning,” Manion said with a laugh. “Thank you for this really, really meaningful achievement tonight. It means a lot since I’m feeling a little out of the loop lately. I’ve been home with my newborn twins for the last five weeks. I’ve really enjoyed that time with them.”

“My favorite thing about working in the district and teaching Is taking our students abroad. We’ve traveled with students several times and we’re not stopping yet. So thank you for all the support from the district so we can do that.”

Manion is a member of the LCHS Advisory Council, the Junior Patriot Time lead, sponsor for the National French Honor Society, the Program Review lead for World Languages and Global Competency and is currently seeking her National Board Certification. Manion is also a talented a violinist and gives music lessons after school. She is in the planning stages of developing an orchestra at LCHS.

“Agatha Manion goes far above what is required of a teacher,” said Perri Sams, a foreign language teacher at LCHS who nominated Manion. “She is spearheading a county-wide effort to bring foreign language to our elementary and middle schools, using second- and third-year high school language students to teach the classes. To support her soon-to-be teachers, Mrs. Manion uses her planning to work with them on objectives, lesson plans and teacher dispositions.”
The second award of the evening was a first for the Chamber, with the Youth Impact Award added to this year’s slate of honors. The Youth Impact Award is to recognize someone who has volunteered their time to make the youth in our community better and provide a good role model experience.

Jeff Ralston, who made the presentation of the award, beamed proudly as he introduced the recipient of the inaugural award, saying “I am honored and privileged to present the Chamber of Commerce Youth Impact Award for 2019 to my son, Eric Ralston.”

Many of Ralston’s former and current basketball players were on hand for the occasion, with their presence revealed as he came up to accept the award and the curtains on the stage opened.

“Well, that was unexpected,” Eric Ralston said. “Heck, I’ve got members of the Chamber of Commerce Board that played basketball for me. I’m afraid that pretty soon I’m getting ready to have people that I coached kids playing for me before too much longer.

“It’s nice to have all these young people here with me and all the lies my dad told about me … Thanks. I’ve had a lot of good help and, as you can see, a ton of good ball players.”

Ralston is the Chief Lending Officer at PBK Bank and is also a member of the bank’s Board of Directors at PBK Bank. He is also a member of the Stanford Rotary Club and is founder and member of the Rotary Club’s Scholarship Committee, which presents scholarship money to LCHS graduates.

“As a community member, he has participated in countless student mentoring programs, including Career Day, mock job interviews and as a frequent guest speaker at both LCHS and LCMS,” Jeff Ralston said. “He has served as a community advisor for the Operation Preparation Program where he worked with eighth-graders on planning their future postsecondary and career goal. He has served on the Lincoln County 4-H Council and was a member of the first graduating class of the Leadership Lincoln Program.”

Ralston pointed out that his son dedicates a great deal of his time to Lincoln County sports.He said he works tirelessly in the annual WPBK/PBK Bank Death Valley Bowl to kick off the LCHS football season, coaches a youth soccer team for children in first and second grade and that he has been the LCMS boys basketball coach since 2004.

“He has been the eighth-grade coach for the past 14 years with his teams compiling 481 wins versus 100 losses, an 83 percent winning percentage. His teams have won numerous tournaments and have been the Salt River Conference champions 10 times,” he boasted. “This past season was especially exceptional with his team winning 39 consecutive games, with their only loss coming in the finals of the Kentucky State Tournament.”

Under Ralston, the LCMS team has earned three Sweet 16 finishes in the state tournament, two Elite 8 finishes, one KBA Gold Bracket Championship and 2 KBA/KBC state runner-up finishes.

In addition to his time on the court with his players, Ralston is also known for taking his teams to church with him, out to eat, to the moves and to high school basketball games in support of both the Patriots and Lady Patriots.

“Lastly, beyond being an exceptional coach, (Eric) seeks to instill good citizenship skills in his players by insisting they make good grades in the classroom and have no behavior infractions in school,” said his dad. “He requires his players to show him their report cards each grading period. Any student with behavior problems or grades below a C are not permitted to play until grades are brought up or behavior compensation is made appropriately. He also teaches his players the importance of community service by delivering Thanksgiving meals to those in need in Lincoln County.”

Stanley Burris of Hustonville was named the 2019 winner of the June King Bastin Service to Community Award for his countless years of community volunteerism. Martha Dee Bastin, the daughter of the late June King Bastin, made the presentation of the award.

“Since we started giving this award, I’ve come to realize that this community is full of caring, giving people that love their community,” Bastin said. “They go above and beyond to get things done and to help other people. This award honors somebody who goes out of their way to make this community a better place.”

Burris, a bank loan officer at PBK Bank, has been at the institution for 45 years. Burris, who lives in Hustonville with his wife, Jenny, is a member of and deacon for Hustonville Baptist Church, where he has served as music director for over 30 years.

“I feel blessed to have grown up here in Lincoln County and gone to school here. I’ve lived here my whole life,” said Burris. “I hope that God continues to bless Lincoln County because this is a great place for us to all live and raise our children, grandchildren. I’ve been blessed with good family. I was very fortunate to have great grandparents and parents. I actually should have done a better job than I have based on the raising I’ve received. I’m blessed by some good folks now. I’ve got three of my girls here now, my wife, my sister and my daughter here tonight and my son-in-law and brother-in-law. And more family and friends. I just appreciate everyone being here.”

Always one to think about community, Burris had an invitation for the audience.

“In the morning at 9 o’clock at the park in Hustonville, there’s a chance for community service if anybody wants to come over,” he said. “We’ll be preparing a sight for some planting of some native grasses and some more trees. That’s at 9 o’clock in the morning … the city and several groups are working together to make improvements to the park.”

Bastin related that she had received emails from people who had nothing but praise for Burris, including his daughter, Jennifer Burris Woodward, and she shared that email.

“It says, ‘It was no surprise to me that my dad was voted to win the June King Gover Bastin Service to Community Award of the year,” she read. “He is the most generous person I’ve ever known. Generous with his time, his money and his talents. He might say he has never done anything that big for anyone, but I think it’s big that he does all the little things – the things most of us won’t take the time to do. The things that usually go unnoticed.”

“He’s the perpetual volunteer. He’s the one giving somebody a ride. He’s the one who stays late to help clean up. He’s the one smiling and making easy conversation to help people feel included at a party. He’s the one out in the field at midnight thing care of a sick baby calf. He’s the quintessential neighbor and friend we all hope to have and we all wish we could be. Everyone from babies to 90-year-olds adore and love him. He is loved by his community and beyond.”

The Master Conservationist winner and one-time All-American Star Farmer (1973) volunteers in several capacities throughout the community. He volunteers withGod’s Pantry at Hustonville Baptist Church, is a member of the Lincoln & Casey County Cattleman’s Association, is a member of the Ruritan Club and serves on the Lincoln County Extension Council, the Lincoln County Scholarship Board and the Hustonville Cemetery Board (opens and closes the cemetery daily).

Joe R. Elliott was the next person called to the stage, with Dan Grigson summoning him to the podium to accept the Farmer of the Year Award for his 59 years of successful involvement in agriculture.

“I wasn’t expecting this. No way, no how,” Elliott said as he shook Grigson’s hand. “They told me to get my clothes on and get ready to ….”

“Go eat a good steak, right,” Grigson chime in.

“Yes, and it was a good’un,” Elliott answered. “I enjoy my farming, my son and my kids. I’ve had an awful good life in farming. I remember when farming was done the old way.”

Grigson, as former agriculture agent here in Lincoln County, worked with Joe Elliott and the Elliott Brothers farming operation for many years.

“Joe got into full-time farming in 1960 and he and his brothers, John Gray, Bucky and Taylor, formed the Elliott Brothers farming operation. The partnership was recognized as one of Lincoln’s best for top-quality cattle, tobacco rated the best and meticulously prepared for market and great corn and hay crop yields. Sad to say that three of them are now deceased,” said Grigson. “In 1996, Joe Elliott, the remaining brother, became the owner and operator of the farms. He continued to produce great Angus feeder cattle, top-quality tobacco, great alfalfa square bales and good grain crops. He is always busy on the farm and raising a family. But he still found time to donate many hours as a 4-H Teen Club volunteer, working in his church, the Moreland Christian Church, and helping with McKinney Station Days.”

Elliott’s son Jason eventually joined him in operating Elliott Brothers Farms, which lies between Chicken Bristle and McKinney. They own 500 acres and rent 200 acres for their crops and livestock. They buy feeder cattle around 500 pounds and grow them to 900+ pounds. Elliott Brothers grows 75 acres of corn for silage and grain to feed the cattle, 125 acres of alfalfa hay for cash sales or to feed their cattle and 40 acres of wheat for cover crop seed and for straw sales.

“Joe has always been one to say, ‘If you are going to do it, do it right!’ No doubt about the fact that Joe Elliott will do it right,” said Grigson. “He has always used good practices on the farm. He attended U.K. Extension activities, Cattlemen’s and NRCS activities to learn how to use the best management practice to make the farm productive and profitable. Elliott Farms has hosted a Farmer-Lender-U.K. Extension Field Day, Young Farmer Association events, the Chamber Young Leadership classes, U.K. Tobacco Research Tours, 4-H teen activities and other similar activities. Joe has been open to help others learn from his practices.”

“He is proud of his success and his family, including his wife, Ann, his son and daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and is still there every day planning and working to make his farm one of the best. Visit the farm and you will see he does it well.”

Alisa Stone, a nurse with Ephraim McDowell Health Care, was introduced as this year’s winner of the Health Service Award, with Ina Glass, a Chamber Board member, welcoming her to the stage.

“She is a compassionate nurse who is very passionate about her patients and active in her community,” Glass said. “She works tirelessly every day, nights and weekends to help our senior population in the county. She always puts the needs of others first. She has a giving heart … She never does anything for recognition or a pat on the back. It’s just that she cares deeply for others and has a desire to see others be healthy, happy and successful.”
“She works for a healthcare agency that gives quailty care for our Lincoln Countians in their home, for those who aren’t able to make it to a hospital, doctor’s office or clinic every day, every week or every month. They can stay right where they are and she can make sure they get the care that they need.”

Slone volunteers at Hope Lodge, is a Relay for Life team captain, participates in Relay for Life flower sales, volunteers to deliver dictionaries to Lincoln County elementary students, is a United Way, Senior Citizens and Day of Action volunteer and participant, is a skilled nursing facility volunteer, a volunteer for the Lincoln County Senior Citizens Senior Prom, volunteers at monthly blood pressure clinics and Health Fairs, and attends UHF meetings.

A stunned Slone slowly made her way to the stage to accept the award.

“I’m really surprised,” she said. “I’m originally not from this county but I’ve been here now for 30+ years and Lincoln County is definitely my home and I’m very proud of our county. I feel like we have such wonderful people in our communty. We’re here to be servants. That’s what we’re all supposed to do and I’m so very thankful, and so surprised. Thank you.”

This year’s First Responder Award was presented to Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Mullins Jr. Mullins, who also serves as a part-time firefighter and paramedic, was recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty and making a lasting difference in the county through his service, valor and commitment to the safety of they community.

“(He) works tirelessly, focusing primarily on drug enforcement within Lincoln County and has received many compliments from the citizens he serves and numerous commendations from those who work alongside him,” said Donya Saylor, Chamber Board member.

One such compliment was given by Paula Davis, who nominated Mullins for the award.

“He continues to show he has a servant’s heart and wants Lincoln County to be a safe community,” she said. “Michael has shown our neighborhood great support by letting us be able to let him know the issues we were having with drug dealer and finding paraphernalia in the street causing it to be unsafe for our children to be out. He has shown a willingness and passion to help alleviate the problem to make sure our neighborhood remains a safe place for children.”

Saylor says Mullins takes his time to “meet with school students, scout troops and civic groups to enlighten them of potential threats and ongoing issues with the criminal element in our county. That he brings his drug dog along to provide awareness of drug activity and efforts to curtail it. She added that his research into grants and funding opportunities for Lincoln County first responder agencies have resulted in contributions and awards amounting to thousands of dollars that his agency and local government could otherwise not afford, including grants for vehicles, computers, drug dogs and specialized equipment.”

“And there’s one more thing,”she said. “In February, during torrential thunderstorms, which caused travel alerts and forced road closures, (he) was dispatched to the scene of an automobile accident reported as a vehicle off the road, in flood waters, lodged under a bridge and people trapped inside screaming for help. The deputy initiated a sequence of rescue events while directing other responders and was able to secure all persons from the vehicle. The incident would have certainly been disastrous if not for his quick-thinking and immediate action.”

And, with a wave and a thank you, Mullins quietly accepted his award and walked back to his seat.

AGE Engineering of Stanford was named the Business of the Year. Amanda Coffey presented the award to AGE owner Doug Gooch.

AGE employs over 40 employees year round and 13 college students each summer with an annual payroll of $1.8-million. Gooch often speaks in classrooms about the engineering profession, as well as conducting mock interviews. AGE also hosts high school seniors through the LCHS Co-op Program.

AGE acquired funding and designed sanitary sewer along the U.S. 127 corridor and brought $5.2-million by working for Eastern Kentucky Power, American Electric Power, Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities in 2018 alone.

“(AGE) is one of the larger employers of Lincoln County,” Coffey said. “Many of those are local students and interns. (Gooch) has been described as one of the most genuine and selfless people in the county. He genuinely wants others to succeed. He takes a chance on many young people in the county by employing them and helping them make their way in the engineering world. He gives back to the community in so many ways, including the school system, local government and securing grants to improve the infrastructure of our county and region. We are proud of the locally owned business that is the forefront of technology not only locally, but nationally.”

Gooch, who was raised in Kings Mountain, graduated from Lincoln County High School and the UK College of Engineering.

“About 27 years ago, Dickie Cooper and Bob Folger came to me – I was working as an engineer witht the Department of Transportation – and they said we have a project we’d like you to help us with. It was different than what I had been working with. I had been working as a bridge engineer but they wanted us to design a development,” said Gooch.

“From there, we actually started working with Dickie and Bob Folger. Before long, Cabell Francis Sr., jumped on board. Steve Austin and I would be in town and Cabell would see us on the street and say, ‘There’s my surveyor. Are you Gooch or are you Austin?’ He could never keep us straight but he knew we were surveyors. Jess Correll and David Downey started using us. Tommy Owens and Dwayne Greer started giving us opportunities. So from the beginning, with myself and Steve Austin, Dale Shepperson and Lona (Merriman) sitting back there, we’ve grown to 45 or 46 full-time employees now. We had 13 college students last year and hopefully most of those will become engineers and come back to work for us.”

“We learned early on that you cannot recruit kids from Louisville or Lexington or Cincinnati to come to work here. They come here, get a license and go right back home, so we concentrate on kids from here who want to work here. We have six engineers, six licensed surveyors and about seven or eight engineer trainees and all of them are from Lincoln, Casey, Rockcastle, Boyle. We have one kid from Lexington but he has Danville roots.”

Gooch has served on the Board of Directors for the Lincoln County Health Board for over 20 years, the Stanford/Lincoln County Industrial Development Board for 15+ years and is actively involved in planning and zoning county wide. AGE has donated money to upgrade the LCHS baseball field, provided a new scoreboard for Death Valley ad annual supports the LCHS athletic fund.

While many cities look to recruit big business to grow their economy, Gooch said Lincoln County needs to look to its own young people.

“We probably don’t have the chance to recruit a 5,000-job business. What we have the opportunity to do is encourage our young people … To take a chance. To try to be self-employed,“ Gooch said choking back tears. “I see a young Noland man here who is a great mechanic and he’s a self-employed guy. Chad Withrow and Josh Carmicle are wonderful bricklayers. They are becoming self-employed. We need to encourage our young people to step out on their own, to take a chance, to plan on working hard to try to grow a business in our community.”

“The way we can create jobs and wealth here in the county is if we grow it here.”