Jackson chamber hands out its service awards

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Arnold Strickert was surprised to learn he was the recipient of the R.A. Fulenwider Meritorious Community Service Award.

Strickert, who only attended the Jackson Chamber of Commerce Installation Banquet because he was told the Optimist Club was being recognized (which it wasn't), said little when he stepped up to the podium.

Perhaps his actions during his 78 years have said enough for him.

Strickert, Wal-Mart and American Railcar Industries walked away with plaques for community service Monday night.

Strickert was born in 1925 in Tilsit, a tiny rural community just outside Jackson.

A Jackson High School football player once upon a time, Strickert joined the Navy during World War II, is a 50-year member in both the American Legion and the Optimist Club, is a past president of the Chamber of Commerce and the Jackson Industrial Development Board and is an active member and leader in St. Paul Lutheran Church, as well as other organizations.

"He has left his footprints all over the area," said friend Don Sievers, who introduced Strickert.

Strickert got a standing ovation from the crowd, but he remained seated and seemed reluctant to go up front.

He said he couldn't really pinpoint the motivation behind his community service other than to say, "I had a love for the community and my church. It just kind of came naturally."

Wal-Mart was recognized as Business of the Year. The national retail chain came into Jackson in 1975. Its community involvement includes support in the chamber's Educator of the Year program, the golf tournament, contributions to the parks, police, fire and sheriff's departments.

Store manager Rick Boyd said Wal-Mart may be a huge company, but it still cares about the community.

"It's real simple," he said. "We're not just a company, we're your neighbors, your friends and your relatives. We live in Jackson and shop here just like you do."

ARI, which was named Industry of the Year, has been a staple in the Jackson industrial scene since 1985 and has made contributions to the police and fire departments, the Boy and Girl Scouts, Teen Challenge, 4-H, the school district and FFA. ARI is one of 23 plants.

"We have received industry awards and customer-service awards, but none can be as special as getting one from the whole local community," said plant manager Brian Blankenship.

The awards were selected from a task force set up by the chamber.

The R.A. Fulenwider Award goes to a person, not necessarily a chamber member, who has made significant contributions to the life of Jackson.

The other awards go to those who are active in the community and the chamber and practice good ethics.

"I think they did a super job," said chamber executive director Ken Parrett of the task force. "They were the right picks."

bmiller@semissourian.com

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