Smith named Citizen of the Year
Published 2:31 pm Monday, February 9, 2009
By By MaryClaire Foster
The list of achievements and accolades gathered by Tray Smith reflect a life of community involvement both locally and beyond, but what sets Smith a part is the short amount of time in which he has achieved them.
In recognition of his accomplishments, Smith was chosen as the 2008 Citizen of the Year at the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce 63rd Annual Banquet Thursday night.
Smith, a senior at Escambia County High School, was chosen based on the more than 20 letters of recommendation sent to the Chamber.
Smith was in attendance at the banquet as a Chamber Ambassador, but was kept in the dark about being awarded until the last minute, and Chamber Executive Director Sheryl Vickery and others in the know went to great lengths to keep it a secret from Smith.
Vickery purposefully misinformed Smith about who would be receiving the honor and was told he would be speaking that night, delivering a speech on his recent trip to see the presidential inauguration. In explanation of his name not appearing on the program Vickery said it was too late to change it.
Citizen of the year was awarded after the lifetime achievement award, which honored Mims, and this is when Smith said he started become suspicious.
Walking up to the stage, Smith was visibly shaken and surprised, holding back tears as he thanked his family and the community for the support they have shown him through the years.
State Representative Alan Baker drove from Montgomery to present Smith with his award, reading comments about Smith from nominations forms the Chamber received.
Baker read his own remarks as well, which said, “Tray’s fondness for people, government, and politics appears to be energized by his desire to create a better tomorrow for all of society, both near and far.”
Another person who nominated Smith wrote, “Tray is truly an outstanding example of what we all admire in citizenship, academic, religious and other pursuits of civic service—the potential is almost unlimited.”
The next day, Smith was still visibly unnerved at having been awarded such an honor.
Smith said having been bestowed this honor he thinks he has an even greater responsibility to service in his community.
Smith will be leaving for college in the fall, but said he will keep Atmore close to him wherever he goes.