Gilbert named Citizen of the Year
By Matt Wilson
For the FCT
Kerry Gilbert was awarded the Citizen of the Year award Monday night at the A.W. Todd Center in Russellville during the 59th anniversary of the Farm-City Awards.
Gilbert, a Franklin County native, is best known for his music and the awareness he brings to the area and the historic Roxy Theatre.
Gilbert accepted his award and quickly began thanking some of the people who helped him over the years, eliciting some laughs from the crowd.
“I want to thank my teachers and my parents,” Gilbert said. “I want to thank my mom for using cloth diapers. I think they felt better and they made me a better singer.”
Gilbert paused for a moment before thanking his parents again, including his father who recently passed away two months earlier. He closed his acceptance speech by acknowledging his pride in his hometown and surrounding area.
“I am just really honored by all of this,” Gilbert said. “Really, I’m just overwhelmed by everything tonight. I didn’t know anyone really cared.”
Gilbert was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in August of 2013. He said he felt a lot of support from the community during his treatment and really felt a connection to everyone.
“I’ve just been trying to reach out to people through my music for over 30 years now,” Gilbert said.
“I hope I’ve been able to bless people and brighten some lives along the way.”
Gilbert’s work with his band, The Kerry Gilbert Band, has been positive for the Russellville community over the years and Gilbert said he hopes to continue reaching out to people through his music.
“The Roxy is a rare gem and it is something that is special to me,” Gilbert said.
“My parents met there on a blind date and I saw my first movie there. I’ve been playing there every month for the past seven years.
I hope through giving back to that place that I can continue to get kids interested in music.
“And if I can help get a kid to be a part of singing and getting out in front of a crowd then that’s all that much better.”
Gilbert has been a leader in bringing musical acts to the Roxy for years and money raised from those shows has gone to the continued restoration of the theatre by the Franklin County Arts and Humanities Council.
The Citizen of the Year Award is presented by the Franklin County Extension System and the Farm City Planning Committee each year to a leading citizen in Franklin County who gives back to his or her community.
Other awards are also presented each year to deserving individuals and businesses that strive to make Franklin County a better place. Those awards and recipients include:
Others receiving awards and recognition were:
• Cooperator of the Year – Tom and Kevin Richardson
• Educator of the Year – Leah Torisky
• Cattleman of the Year – Michael Pounders
• Farmer of the Year – Dale Hester
• Farm Family of the Year – Hester Farms
• Alabama Cooperative Extension System Organization of the Year – Franklin County Co-Op
• Alabama Cooperative Extension System Hall of Fame – Ellis Davis
• Alabama Cooperative Extension System Agricultural Lifetime Achievement Award – James Glass
Winners of the school and community Farm City contests sponsored by Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, Sen. Roger Bedford, and the Franklin County Cooperative Extension System were:
Poster contest – K-3rd grade: Landon Cox of Belgreen, first place; Autumn Chandler of Vina, second place; Lindsay Everett of Belgreen, third place; Aliyah Box of Vina, third place; Anna Kate Burks of Vina, third place; Kenzlee Bohannan of Vina, fourth place; Kylie Shotts of Vina, fourth place. Winning classroom teacher was Dana Hill of Belgreen.
Poster contest – 4th-6th grade: Katie Harrison of Tharptown, first place; Carson Cox of Belgreen, second place; Autumn Montgomery of Tharptown, second place; Braden Malone of Tharptown, third place; Kyndall Morgan of Tharptown, third place; Britney Carter of Tharptown, fourth place; Briley Kirby of Tharptown, fourth place; and Gracie Montgomery of Tharptown, fourth place. Winning classroom teacher was Nicole Ergle of Tharptown.
Essay contest – 7th-9th grade: Jordan Muse, who is homeschooled, first place; Elizabeth Baty of Vina, second place; Anna Belle Humphres of Vina, third place; and Mackenzie Thomas of Vina, fourth place. Winning classroom teacher was homeschool teacher Wendy Muse.
Essay contest – 10th-12th grade: Erica Cantrell of Vina, first place. Winning classroom teacher was Jessica Hamilton of Vina.
Multimedia contest – 9th-12th grade: Hunter Greenhill of Tharptown, first place; Laura Kennemer of Tharptown, second place; and Loranda Scott of Vina, third place. Winning classroom teacher was Scott Vance of Tharptown.