By CHERIL VERNON
Palestine businesswoman and community visionary Jean Mollard was named the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2011-12 Citizen of the Year during the annual banquet Thursday.
“It must be the water in this town, as they say. This town has encouraged me to do what I have done for the community, so I thank you for your help,” Mollard said when receiving the award.
Mollard arrived in Palestine 30 years ago transplanting her newly formed antique business from Houston. As a entrepreneur, she used her skills and interest in fashion and home design to form a wholesale and retail gift supply, ultimately serving clients nationally and internationally.
She owns several businesses in Palestine and is passionate about Palestine tourism, restoration of old buildings and advocating for young business owners.
Most recently, she has been instrumental in starting a new non-profit organization called “Palestine Tomorrow.” The organization’s first project is to provide an outdoor sculpture exhibit depicting the city’s rich railroad heritage and recognizing the contributions of the railroad companies, as well as the people of Palestine and their family railroad heritage.
Also during the banquet, Candis Wells of Palestine was named the Volunteer of the Year and Union Pacific Railroad was recognized as the Business of the Year.
“One of the most proud achievements I have during my tenure here in Palestine is getting Union Pacific involved in the community,” Union Pacific Railroad Palestine spokesman Jeff Myers said while accepting the award. “These guys here (pointing to the other UP employees on stage) are your future and will continue forward.”
For the second year in a row, Lupe Tyer was named the Ambassador of the Year while first-year ambassador Davi Ingram was named the Rookie Ambassador of the Year.
“This is such an honor,” Tyer said upon receiving the award. “The ambassadors are such a great group to work with, volunteer with and serve the community with.”
A special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the family of the late Palestine mayor and community leader Robert “Bob” McKelvey.
Union Pacific Railroad spokesman Juan Carreon presented Chamber Executive Director Meghan Hill and the City of Palestine with a special “Train Town USA” resolution naming Palestine a member of Union Pacific’s Train Town USA Registry as part of the railroad’s year-long 150th anniversary celebration.
The resolution was signed by UP Chairman Jim Young, and Palestine’s historical connection with Union Pacific will be featured at www.up150.com
The “Denim and Diamonds Gala”-themed banquet featured a catered dinner by Contemporary Catering, live music from the Joker’s Heart band, a casino, mechanical bull and a live auction — all held at the Anderson County Youth Livestock Expo Center. More than 350 people attended the sold-out event.
Also during the banquet, outgoing Chamber board of directors president Sloan Shuffler handed the gavel over to incoming president Alan George.
“Sloan did a tremendous job as president, she really put her heart into it,” George said.
Outgoing board members Ricki Taylor and Zac Leslie were recognized and incoming board members Darcy Hall, Jeff Roberson and Leon Willhite were welcomed. Remaining board members include Linda Dickens, Andrew Gregory, Jackson Hanks and Susan Rand.
“We now have 450 Chamber members including 56 new members — and half of those are new businesses in Palestine,” Hill said.
Here are biographies on each award recipient:
• Citizen of the Year Jean Mollard — This year’s Citizen of the Year arrived in Palestine over 30 years ago transplanting her newly formed antique business from Houston. As a bootstrap entrepreneur, she used her skills and interest in fashion and home design to form a wholesale & retail gift supply ultimately serving clients nationally and internationally.
Her successful style of business marketing was to appeal to the six senses instead of the standard approach of bottom line management. Her Redlands Building is an example of the sixth sense approach by offering extended stay apartments to business travelers with a touch of history, community spirit and the amenities of today.
She owns several businesses in Palestine that contribute to the economy providing employment and fresh and innovative services to the community that attract other people to the community both as visitors who spend their leisure dollars in Palestine and as investors in the community who open new businesses.
Her passions include Palestine tourism, restoration of old buildings and advocating for young business owners. She is an accomplished motivational speaker, most recently speaking on the value of volunteerism and encouraging business leaders to include community service in the culture of their business.
She served on the Texas Parks and Wildlife state committee in support of the Texas State Railroad. She was also instrumental in the Old Town Creek Development Project. She is a supporter of Harvey Women's Club and the Museum for East Texas Culture.
She served as Main Street Advisory Board Chair working to make Main Street successful and beneficial to building and business owners as well as the community as a whole. She chaired the committee that produced the Roaring 20's Street Scene in downtown Palestine. Other projects include being a facilitator for the annual Santa’s Workshop which brings the magic of Christmas to thousands of children.
She meets with tourism professionals for the Texas Travel Industry Association to promote Palestine. She participates in the effort to bring the film industry to Palestine as a film location. She also is a member of the Palestine Rotary Club actively serving on the fund-raising committee for the past two years.
Most recently, she has been instrumental a new non-profit organization called “Palestine Tomorrow.” The goal of the organization is to improve the city's quality of life through facilitating arts and improving parks. Their first project is to provide an outdoor sculpture exhibit depicting the city's rich railroad heritage and commemorating Palestine's railroad past since 1872 and recognizing the contributions of the railroad companies, offices and yards here as well as the people of Palestine and their family railroad heritage.
• Volunteer of the Year Candis Wells — Candis Wells is owner of Pumping Services, Incorporated, serving virtually all major oil and gas industry companies throughout central and east Texas for the past 22 years. Companies such as Chevron, Enbridge, XTO Energy, (to name a few) rely on her company's expertise to facilitate production and profits.
With her impressive business acumen, expertise in accounting, and as a bookkeeper, Candis and her husband, Jim, have successfully cemented Pumping Services Inc. as a reliable anchor to the oil and gas industry in Texas.
Candis is a 32-year member of the Association of Desk & Derek - an organization whose purpose is To enhance and foster a positive image to the global community by promoting the contribution of the petroleum, energy and allied industries through education by using all resources available. She served as President of the Association for two years during which she traveled extensively throughout the United States and Canada proving herself to be a powerful representative and leader.
Candis has been a member since 1996 of the Coyote Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force-- an organization dedicated to the restoration to flying condition, and the continued maintenance, of World War II & Viet Nam era military aircraft. The Coyote Squadron of Corsicana has hosted, each year since 1999, an air show that features many of these airplanes as well as many other aircraft. Candis serves as Unit Finance Officer as well as Air Show Coordinator! Additionally, Candis Wells serves on the Awards Committee of the Commemorative Air Force at the national level
Candis Wells belongs to Beta Sigma Phi International, a sorority serving 32 countries. She co-chaired the 31-day East Texas Convention of Beta Sigma Phi in 2010, serving women from every corner of our state. The sorority was founded for the social, cultural, and civic enrichment of its members
She has been a member of Cars of Palestine since 1991. She has served in every office and drive a MG.
She was a member of the Palestine Chamber Board of Directors from 2007- 2011. She is currently president of Harvey Woman's Club.
Candis dotes on her husband, Jim, and dog-child, Rufus, enjoys seeing her son Andy and Jim's daughter Laura, as well as her 27 nieces and nephews.
She loves the Dallas Cowboys. She loves to entertain and she especially loves Christmas!
• Business of the Year, Union Pacific Railroad — Union Pacific has a rich railroad heritage with roots deep into the community since 1872. Palestine can trace much of its heritage to the development brought by the railroad and the many men and women whose livelihood was the railroad. The size of the city, commerce and industry we have wouldn't be here without the rich history of the railroad. Countless generations of railroaders lived throughout the area and any given person here knows someone who works for the railroad.
Palestine's railroad history spans 140 years. Palestine became an important location for steam locomotive and coach repairs when the IGN built its first major depot here in 1892. In 1902, a modern passenger coach shop was built. These shops remained in operation until 1954 when the present facility was built exclusively for freight car repair. During this period, the IGN became part of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, then ultimately the Union Pacific Railroad.
Today, the Palestine Car Shop is one of only two car shops on the Union Pacific Railroad that perform heavy modifications and repairs to freight cars. The Palestine workforce of over 100 employees has earned a reputation for safely and efficiently delivering quality work to their customers known as “Palestine Pride.”
Looking forward, construction of a state-of-the-art paint facility is scheduled to begin in 2012. This $12-15 million investment is an outstanding vote of confidence in the Palestine Car Shop and will create additional job opportunities for the community. The history of Palestine and Anderson County is dotted with effects of the train and is forever linked to the rails.
• Ambassador of the Year Lupe Tyer — Lupe graduated from Palestine High School ,and although she was born in Luling, Texas, she has lived here the majority of her life and considers herself a Palestinian. She have a son, Chris and his wife, Mindi and a daughter, Stacey and her husband, Ryan that live in Pflugerville.
She started her postal career as a clerk and was promoted to Customer Service Supervisor at the Palestine Post Office. In 2004, she was promoted to Postmaster in Troup and has been the Postmaster in Frankston for the past four years.
She has two Yorkshire Terriers, Jasper and Jagger, that are spoiled rotten. She is an animal lover and have rescued and found good homes for them. She enjoys entertaining and spending time with her family.
She is a member of Harvey Women Club and Blankets & Bears, where she organized the silent auction in March of this year.
She started decorating cakes in 1982 for friends and family and named her business, “Cakes Galore.”
She volunteers a lot of hours for the Chamber and is the ambassador group’s secretary. She volunteers in several chamber committees. She was Ambassador of the Quarter in January 2011 and Ambassador of the Year for 2011.
One memorable moment this past year was being Ambassador of the Year and having her friends and family walk with her in the Fall Fest Parade and the Dogwood Trails Parade.
• Rookie Ambassador of the Year Davi Ingram — Recently moving back to Palestine, Davi started volunteering after last year’s Chamber banquet. She was born and raised in Palestine. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. She taught for a few years in Lake Jackson. She received her Master’s degree in Education Administration from Lamar University.
She is married to Jonathan Ingram and they are expecting their first child. She is the owner of Perfect Plans, an event planning, gift and apparel business. She also is employed as the office manager at Killion Collision and heads up the new Hertz office.
She is a member of the Palestine Junior Service League, Newcomers Club, Young Professionals and attends Evangelistic Temple.