Rutherford, Toler, local businesses honored at Winter Banquet

Courtesy of the Bryant Chamber of Commerce

Two individuals and three companies were honored with Community Commitment Awards at the Bryant Area Chamber of Commerce’s 41st annual Winter Banquet at The Center at Bishop on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Although winners were picked by out-of-the-area judges and by two different sets of judges, education and health seem to be themes for the winners.

Superintendent Randy Rutherford of the Bryant School District was named Man of the Year.

Pam Toler of Arkansas State University and Bryant Early Education Coalition was named Woman of the

Year.  Civitan Services was named Organization of the Year. Lifeline Chiropractic was named Small

Business of the Year. Chick-Fil-A was named Large Business of the Year.

“I am very humbled to receive this award,” said Rutherford. “I accept on behalf of our school board, administration, faculty, staff and students. It is truly an honor to serve a growing community which supports its schools and values student education.”

Rutherford is in his fourth year as superintendent of the 8,000-plus student, 11-campus  Bryant School District. He has been a resident of Saline County for 14 years. His long career in public education includes positions as principal of Bryant High School, Athletic Director for the Benton School District, Principal of J.A. Fair High, Assistant Principal of Central High. He has also been a business teacher and coach in football, baseball and basketball.

“Mr. Rutherford is dedicated to shaping our future by preparing student to enter the workforce or college upon completion of their education in the Bryant School District and encouraging positive contribution to our community. This is demonstrated through the many community service projects students participate in each year. He also engages faculty and staff in projects to benefit our neighbors,” noted Rutherford’s nominator.

He is active in support of the Boys and Girls Club of Bryant and the Bryant Rotary Club. His nominator calls him a “proven leader in education.”

Pam Toler was nominated by three people.

“Living in a community that has literally been built up around a phenomenal school system, it is not surprising that we have such a rich support system for Early Education as well, but it is certainly unusual.  Traditionally, community time and effort is funneled into the public education system and early education is left to support itself from within. That is not so in the Bryant Community. A judicious part of the credit for that goes to Pam Toler,” wrote one of her nominators. “Through the Bryant Early Education Coalition (BEE) and the monthly meetings held, Pam has empowered centers to embark upon improving quality and beginning or improving their Better Beginnings (Arkansas’ Quality Rating System) status, they noted. Pam created the BEE coalition in 2011. She is also on the board and instrumental in bringing the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Saline County. In this program, children to age 5 receive books by mail to encourage early reading skills.

The Biography of Civitan Services, the Organization of the Year Winner, begins: “On a fall day in 1958, the life of Civitan Services founder Noel Deer was changed forever. Mr. Deer saw a young boy picking up soda bottles in front of a service station. Mr. Deer asked the boy why he wasn’t in school and the boy replied, ‘They say I’m not smart enough to go to school.” This encounter with the Saline County Boy inspired a dream. For 50 years, Civitan Services has been a place of care, support, encouragement and learning.  Even before the public schools served the developmentally delayed, Civitan served this community.

Lifeline Chiropractic was named Small Business of the year. Yearly Dr. Melanie Spann selects a charitable cause to pursue through her business. This year her business paired with the Make A Wish Foundation to send Easton Begoon, a four-year-old cancer survivor, to Disney World.

Chick-Fil-A was named Large Business of the Year and was instrumental in helping Ethan Harris win the Maytag Leader National award, in raising money for the Boys and Girls Club of Bryant and in supporting Watch Dog Dads and other school organizations.

Chick-Fil-A owner Guy Parker won the Man of the Year award last year.

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