Maxwell wins Citizen of the Year

Published 11:25 pm Thursday, February 9, 2012

Richard Maxwell was presented with the Citizen of the Year award during Thursday night's chamber banquet.

Richard Maxwell was recognized Thursday night for helping to change the landscape of the city he calls home when he was named citizen of the year at the annual Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce banquet.  Maxwell, president of Maxwell Construction, has been instrumental in a number of Atmore projects, leading the effort to turn the former Escambia County High School into a YMCA and being involved from the beginning in the Rivercane development north of Atmore.  “He has spent many unpaid hours,” said P.D. Pollard, who introduced the award. “He has done this so that Atmore may prosper. “He has worked willingly to make his hometown a better place to live and work.”

Maxwell, who appeared surprised by the announcement, said he was both “humbled and honored.”

“Looking out, I see so many people who have done so much,” he said told the audience.

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Maxwell joked that the selection committee must have given the award to everyone else in the room already.

“I’m honored this chamber has chosen to recognize me, and I’m deeply appreciative of this award,” he said.

The late Mary Joyner Grissett, a long time Atmore educator, was also honored Thursday night, posthumously receiving the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bonnie Bartel Latino presented the award to two of Grissett’s children, Scott Grissett and Amy Dean.

“The Lifetime Achievement Award is not something that is given every year,” Latino said. “It’s only given when it is really felt someone is a worth while candidate and that is certainly the case this year.” Latino said, in addition to the numerous community organizations in which Grissett was involved, Grissett the 27-year teaching veteran would also be remembered as a loving educator.  Grissett, she said, influenced her students’ lives in ways that extended far beyond the classroom.

Dean said her mother’s kindness and love for her family defined her as a person.  “Mamma did everything out of pure kindness,” she said.

“But her greatest achievement in life was her family. She would tell you that.”

Grissett spent 25 years as a teacher at Escambia County High School and an additional two years teaching at Escambia Academy. She was also heavily involved in the Atmore community through multiple positions with organizations such as First United Methodist Church, the Delta Kappa Gamma sorority and the Atmore Library Board.  Grissett also spent time serving as the office manager for the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce. She was a founding member of the Escambia County Friends of Education and the Atmore HIPPY program, which is aimed at preparing children for entry into the school system.

Grissett also aided in forming the Atmore Rotary Academic All-Star program.  “Even in here retirement Mary Joyner Grissett was more active than most people in the prime of life,” Latino said. “Mary Grissett could have been the poster child for the motto service before self.

Mary’s legacy is in education but it is also in the lives she touched.” Thursday night’s banquet also included a farewell to the chamber’s outgoing president, Cereal Daniel, and directors. A new administration was welcomed including new president, Leigh Anne Jones.

Before dismissing those attending the festivities, Jones said she sees a bright year ahead for the chamber and the City of Atmore. She added that maintaining happy chamber members in 2012 would cause a positive trickle down effect for the community as a whole.  “My goal is for renewing prospective members because they want to, not because they feel like they have to,” Jones said.  Chamber Director Sheryl Vickery said Thursday’s meeting was a great success that, not only brought the community together, but also recognized two worthy honorees.

“It was a great night for all,” Vickery said. “I think both honorees were very deserving.”

As for this year’s Lifetime Achievement award, Vickery said the decision to honor Grissett was perfect.

“It was just a no-brainer,” she said.

Amy Dean accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of her mother, the late Mary Joiner Grissett.