The City of Arkansas City’s annual Joe B. Avery Community Spirit Award presentation will be resurrected next week as part of a new Arkalalah tradition.
A special awards presentation ceremony and reception will begin at 6 p.m. Oct. 23 in the Wright Room at Cowley College’s Brown Center, located at 215 S. Second St. A social time starts at 5:45 p.m.
Recipients will be awarded for both 2017 and 2018. This award previously was given each year from 2008 through 2016 during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration of Unity at Cowley College.
Among the recipients will be individuals involved with the 2017 restoration of the Wilson Park train.
“This award has always been given out in the Brown Center. For nine years, it was part of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration of Unity in the Robert Brown Theatre,” said Curtis Freeland, chairman of the Community Spirit Award Committee, which now administers this award.
“When Mr. Charles Jennings graciously agreed to take over the Celebration of Unity event a few years ago, it was agreed that he could start giving out his own award, the Spirit of Progress Award, while the City would reserve the Joe B. Avery Community Spirit Award for a different time of year. We quickly zeroed in on Arkalalah to create another nice tradition for this special celebratory week in Arkansas City.”
In addition to serving as the 10th anniversary of this distinguished and illustrious award, this ceremony also will be very special in another way:
The committee will, for the first time, honor a community member posthumously for his many contributions to Arkansas City when the late Marty Mutti is recognized with an award for Special Distinction in Community Service.
This award will be presented to Mutti’s family and friends at KSOK Radio, where he spent many years tirelessly promoting positive events in the community and giving back in countless ways. Mutti’s co-host at KSOK Radio, Shane Farley, will coordinate a multimedia presentation to celebrate Mutti’s life.
“We were greatly saddened by Marty’s unexpected passing and wanted to do something nice to remember his contributions,” Freeland said.
“This is not something the Committee will give out every year. It is a special honor that will be reserved for only the most deserving and impactful individuals.”
Members of the committee and the City Commission will be present for the awards presentation.
There will be a reception following the ceremony, with free cookies and drinks provided by Great Western Dining.
Community Spirit Award engraving services were made possible by Schmidt Jewelers.
About the Joe B. Avery Community Spirit Award
Joe B. Avery, a former member of the Arkansas City Human Relations Commission, passed away in 2008. He was the first recipient of a new award created in his honor, the Joe B. Avery Community Spirit Award.
Avery made a long-term commitment to effecting change in the community by identifying or creating resources that improved the quality of life for those who live in Arkansas City.
He gave many years of service to Arkansas City in developing conversations and relationships that benefited the greater good.
This award has been bestowed each year since upon a deserving community member who displays the values of community spirit and diversity, as selected by a city-appointed commission or committee.
The award was created to celebrate individuals who make an effort to enhance the lives of others through service and a passion for furthering cooperation and humanity among the citizens of Ark City.
The City Commission voted 5-0 on June 7, 2016, to combine the Human Relations Commission and the Accessibility Advisory Board, creating the Equal Opportunity and Accessibility Advisory Board.
The members of this new board did not wish to continue administering the Joe B. Avery Community Spirit Award, but the city wanted to keep the tradition and spirit of the award going, so a new Community Spirit Award Committee was created and tasked with planning an annual recognition event for recipients.
Joe Avery’s widow, Donna Avery, has been serving as an honorary adviser to this new committee.
Previous Joe B. Avery Community Spirit Award recipients from the Human Relations Commission:
- 2008 — Joe B. Avery;
- 2009 — Bruce Watson;
- 2010 — Dr. Nick Rogers;
- 2011 — Pastor James Watson Jr.;
- 2012 — James Fry;
- 2013 — Curtis Freeland;
- 2014 — Delphia Jennings;
- 2015 — Kerry Schnackenberg;
- 2016 — Jim and Carol Owens;
- 2017 — to be announced Oct. 23 (as selected by Community Spirit Award Committee);
- 2018 — to be announced Oct. 23 (as selected by Community Spirit Award Committee).
The specific criteria for award eligibility, as adopted by the Community Spirit Award Committee with inspiration from the criteria for the former Community Cornerstone Award, include the following:
- A candidate must make a significant humanitarian contribution to Arkansas City. This should be a high priority.
- The candidate must live in Cowley County and have lived in Cowley County for five years.
- The candidate must have contributed in his or her achievements something that has had a lasting effect on Arkansas City.
- The achievements must be something above and beyond his or her line of work.
Individuals, groups and organizations all can be eligible for this award, depending on the circumstances of their humanitarian contributions to and lasting impacts on the Ark City community.
Award nomination forms for 2019 also will be available at the Oct. 23 reception and online afterward.
About the Community Spirit Award Committee
The City Commission of Arkansas City voted 4-0 on Sept. 5, 2017, to create the new Community Spirit Award Committee. The first members of this committee were appointed throughout that autumn.
The Community Spirit Award Committee has met periodically this year to formalize criteria for the Joe B. Avery Community Spirit Award going forward, and pick award recipients for both 2017 and 2018. The current members of the Community Spirit Award Committee are:
- Chairman Curtis Freeland, a prior recipient of the Joe B. Avery Community Spirit Award and Community Cornerstone Award who also served on the Cornerstone Award committee;
- Vice Chair Charles Tweedy III, a former city commissioner and planning commissioner;
- JoAnn Bierle and Kim Hager, former members of the Human Relations Commission;
- Arleta Rice, also a former member of the Community Cornerstone Award committee.
Public Information Officer Andrew Lawson serves as the committee’s secretary and staff liaison.
Bierle was appointed to a one-year term that expires Jan. 1, 2019. Hager and Rice have two-year terms expiring Jan. 1, 2020. Freeland’s and Tweedy’s three-year terms will expire Jan. 1, 2021.
Future terms on the Community Spirit Award Committee are for three years. This committee meets as needed (typically just a few times each year) at either Steamy Joe or the Water Treatment Facility.
Anyone interested in applying for appointment to the Community Spirit Award Committee may download and fill out a city committee volunteer application form in PDF format at bit.ly/AC-app-form or arkansascityks.gov/Government/Boards/New-Volunteer-Form-Web.pdf.
Completed forms should be returned to Lawson at email@example.com. They also can be dropped off at the Utility Billing Office or City Clerk’s Office on the main floor of City Hall, located at 118 W. Central Ave.
This information was provided by City of Arkansas City Public Information Officer and Special Projects Coordinator Andrew Lawson.