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GSDP honors several groups, people

January 21, 2011

Paul Sims/SDN Bill Poe, left, and Joan Wilson, right, smile after the Greater Starkville Development Partnership banquet, where they were honored with the Service to the Military award Thursday.

Editor's note: This report – compiled by SDN News Editor Paul Sims – includes as much information on award recipients as could be gathered and assembled by press time Thursday.

Several people or businesses who have served the Starkville community were honored Thursday night with a number of awards at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership banquet.
GSDP staff supplied background on the recipients of these awards.

 T. E. Veitch

• Bill Poe was recognized for his various efforts in volunteering in the community. He has worked on a number of projects related to Starkville's history, including efforts to recognize Starkville native Cool Papa Bell, the first black baseball player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Clay Simmons
• MetroCast Communications received this award for its contributions to civic involvement, educational advancement and economic development. This includes its efforts to support such organizations as the Starkville/MSU Symphony, SAY Basketball, Starkville Soccer League, Starkville Football League, United Way Festival of Trees, Starkville Area Arts Council, Boys and Girls Club, Relay for Life, Junior Auxiliary, Palmer Home, the GSDP through its Get Swept Up program and the Red Cross. Also, MetroCast employees are involved in such organizations as the Starkville Rotary Club, the GSDP and Girl Scouts, among others.
Plus, the company makes one of its biggest contributions to educational advancement through Cable in the Classroom but also sponsors at least one effort through the Starkville Foundation for Public Education. 

Service to the Military

• Bill Poe and Joan Wilson, who worked to coordinate the community's World War II Veterans' Recognition Event, honoring Oktibbeha County veterans of this conflict.
Crystal Pineapple Tourism

• The Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum, where volunteers work tirelessly to share stories about the community and remember those who lived here before. The organization efforts include the Our Community Series and Aviation Roundtable.
Plus, those affiliated with the museum were involved in the World War II Veterans Recognition effort. This was a year-long project to collect the history of the county's veterans of this war and recognize them for their contributions in a formal manner.
Volunteers at the museum have left a lasting impression on the lives and minds of the county's residents, children and visitors.

Industry of the Year

• The Clark Beverage Group is part of the C.C. Clark, Inc. Group of Companies and is the recipient for this award. The company has been in business for more than 100 years and is in its fourth generation of ownership.
It started in 1903, when Carsie C. Clark started a soda water operation in Martin, Tenn. After developing partnerships with several Coca-Cola franchises in north Mississippi and Tennessee, Clark became the sole owner of West Point Coca-Cola in 1917. He took on additional territory in Kentucky and Tennessee before founding C.C. Clark Inc. in 1931.
Today, the company serves all or part of 36 north Mississippi and west Alabama counties and is headquartered in Starkville. It has about 235 employees and keeps about 50 daily delivery routes.
Organizers say the Clarks have been devoted to the community and are GSDP members at the the Committee of 100 level.

Ambassador of the Year

• Libby Gerald, who is a key organizer of the GSDP's annual Get Swept Up effort and a representative of the organization as an ambassador at various events, is the honoree for this year.

Education Hall of Fame

• Robin Dibble is the senior English teacher at Starkville High School. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Oklahoma Baptist University. She took several hours of graduate course work through the University of Houston, the University of Arkansas and Walden University. Nova Southeastern University was to confer a master's degree in education on Dibble last month.
She's served as an educator for nearly 20 years. She's spent much of her career in Starkville but also taught in Lufkin, Texas, Houston, Texas and Fayetteville, Ark. prior to her arrival in Starkville in 1998.
• Denise Rowan is a music and history instructor at Starkville Christian School. Prior to this she served in various capacities in the Starkville School District. For about 15 years, she was the assistant band director and orchestra director at SHS. She served as assistant principal at SHS for two years, then as principal at Ward-Stewart Elementary School for six years.
For about four years, she was the music director and president of the Starkville/Mississippi State University Symphony Orchestra.
Prior to her time in Starkville, she was an assistant band director and seventh grade history teacher at Warren Central High School in Vicksburg.
For two years, she served as an assistant band and chorus director at Chicopee Comprehensive High School in Chicopee, Mass. Previous to this, she provided bilingual music instruction to Hispanic students in a summer program in Holyoke Public Schools in Holyoke, Mass.
She holds a bachelor of music education degree from the University of Massachusetts, a master's degree in music from the University of Southern Mississippi, a doctoral degree in musical arts at USM and a certification in educational leadership at MSU.
• W.A. "Bill" Simmons is a former accounting instructor at MSU, where he taught for 39 years. He received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from MSU.
He is a past president of the Starkville Rotary Club and was Rotarian of the Year in 1991. He was treasurer of the Rotary Katrina Fund took in and distributed $976,000 to Gulf Coast residents.
He also served as treasurer First United Methodist Church for 28 years.
He's been a practicing certified public accountant for 62 years.

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