Both recipients were selected by the chamber of commerce board in a roundtable discussion about local groups, businesses and citizens’ contributions to George West.
The Wall of Honor Award was developed several years ago as a way to honor members of the community, even if they aren’t members of the chamber. Each recipient of the award has made an impact on George West.
Garcia has been chief of police for the GWPD since 1995. Garcia’s police work began in his hometown of Beeville in 1980 as a patrol sergeant and detective after serving in the Marines.
In 1995, the GWPD consisted of just Garcia and one other policeman, and patrol stopped at midnight. Now the GWPD has 24-hour patrol and nine officers.
There were 24 burglaries in George West in 1995; but this year it has only had two so far, and both have been solved.
The other big award winner of the night was the Storyfest Association, this year’s Member of the Year for the chamber.
This award is available to all chamber members, from 1988 through the present, including restaurants, hotels, nonprofit organizations, oil field businesses and retail merchants.
Storyfest Association is celebrating its 25th year of making George West known for the annual George West Storyfest. It was created to put the town on the map, create a venue for local non-profits to host an annual fundraiser and promote literacy.
Although the association works closely with the chamber, it has actually functioned as a separate 501(c)(3) entity since 1995. Many of its volunteers come directly from the chamber, and the event has never charged an entry fee.
In other George West Chamber of Commerce news:
The chamber also formed its new board for the year with Richard Galloway as president, Erica Salinas as vice president, Theresa Rhodes as secretary, George West Mayor Sylvia Steele as treasurer, and George West Independent School District Superintendent Ty Sparks, Mackey Alvarez, Margaret Brown and John Walker as members at large.
Rena McWilliams, director of the George West Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber’s future plans are to continue promoting tourism, supporting local organizations and improving relationships between the city and local businesses. She also said the chamber plans on extending its sidewalk to the street this summer.
“You never know who is going to walk through the door or what they are going to want,” McWilliams said.
Unlike previous year’s chamber banquets, there was no guest speaker at this year’s banquet. Instead, local adults and students took to the stage for a round of “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth-Grader.”
“At the board meeting we decided we wanted to do something light and fun,” McWilliams said.
Sparks took the idea to GWISD employees Heather Lee and Stephanie Schuette, and they put the game together, according to McWilliams.
Live Oak County Sheriff Larry Busby, Mackey Alvarez, Joe Feist and Cosme Arciba and George West High School seniors Avery Pawelek, Shelby James, and Tara Liska were pitted against George West Elementary School’s fifth-graders Parker Lee, Grace Schuette, C.J. Arciba, Caleb Vickery and Hunter Freeman.
“It went really well. We were really pleased with the attendance, and people seemed to have a good time,” McWilliams said.