Maiden Insurance Outfitters began an annual tradition this week when they honored four locals for their service to the community.
Tom and Michele Maiden, since going into business in Shepherdstown in 1989, have been committed to building a safer, greener, better educated, diverse and inclusive Shepherds-town and surrounding area.
To help celebrate their Mar. 3 anniversary of starting business here, the Maidens wanted to honor individuals and organizations who help make the community a better place to live and work. In conjunction with their business commitment, the agency decided on four categories of recognition and, to be different, named the honor the "Guide Award," for those 'guiding' others in their community. Centering on four categories:?Conservation and Outdoor Recreation, Culture and the Arts, Education and Health and Human Serivces, the insurance agency sought help from the Shepherdstown Rotary on determining possible candidates to receive the initial awards. The Rotary members voted on the nominations and the four top winners were honored at a luncheon at the Town Run Brewing on Friday.
Marshall DeMeritt, Clark Dixon,?Jr., Sara Lueck and Peter Smith were the recipients of the first ‘Guide Awards presented by Maiden Insurance Outfitters.
Selected as the top recipient in the Conservation and Outdoor Recreation category was Clark A. Dixon, Jr. Dixon, born and raised in Winchester, Virginia, is retired from the National Park Service with 34 years of supervisory and park management experience. He worked in multiple locations of the National Park system throughout his career.
Dixon has served in leadership in the Boy Scouts for 45 years, including serving in the Shenandoah Area Council. He is a Silver Beaver Award recipient, the highest award a local Boy Scout Council can bestow and a Whitney M. Youn Award recipient. He also received the Wood Badge Training Award, the highest training award for leaders offered by the BSA.
Dixon serves in many other volunteer capacities inlcuding serving at his church, Asbury United Methodist, in Shepherdstown; the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Berkeley-Jefferson Extension Master Gardener Association, among others.
He and his wife,?Ora, have been maried for 39 years and reside in Ranson.
Dixon was moved to tears upon receiving his "paddle" at Friday's luncheon.
"You don't think about things when you're doing them," Dixon said. "But is is special when you are recognized."
On tap to recieve the award for Culture and the Arts was Peter Smith. Smith, who relocated to Shepherdstown with his wife, Vickie, in 2003, had served as Director of Public Affairs for the Washington, D.C. based Asociation of American Universities. Prior, Smith had served as press secretary to three different U.S. Senators.
Smith currently serves on the boards of the Friends of Music, the Rotary Club of Shepherdtown and the Shepherdstown Visitor's Center. He also serves in the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation's Two Rivers Giving Circle, that he helped found, and continues to be active in the Potoamc Valley Audubon Society. He assists many other local organizations with projects on an informal basis.
"I have no doubt that I am the least deserving today," Smith told guests. "But I do appreciate the sentiment."
The Education award was bestowed upon Sara Lueck, who serves as the Media Specialist at Jefferson High School, a position she has held since the school opened 39 years ago. Prior to that, Lueck served as a middle school librarian in Virginia.
"It makes my heart swell when students come to the media center and ask for my assistance in completing research, to study or to check out books,"?Lueck told the Maidens.
Lueck attends as many sporting events, plays, concerts and activities in which her students participate, as she possibly can. She is the chair for the sportsmanship committeee at the high school that coordinates the tailgate dinners for all home football games and the senior picnic for graduates.
"The students have told me, and I believe that I truly am the students number one fan," Lueck said.
A graduate of Shepherd College, Lueck is a member of JCEA, WVEA and the NEA. She is a member of Delta Kappa Gama and Phi Kappa Phi as well as the current secretary of the Scarborough Society. She chairs the gala committee for that Society.
"I'm just a media specialist," Lueck said Friday. "I will treasure this. I do all I do because I just love the kids."
Rounding out the list of award winners was Marshall DeMeritt who was honored in the category of Health and Human Services. DeMeritt currently serves as the Chief of Emergency Medical Services for the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department. He has served in the volunteer system since coming to Shepherd in 2006.
He has learned the craft of firefighting and has become a Pro-Bard firefighter and is national registered as a West Virginia Emergency Medical Technician. He has served in a variety of offices at the fire department and during his tenure as Chief, the department has seen an approximate 12 percent increase in call volumen, an almost 100 percent reduction in failure to respond, upgrades to the technology components of the EMS division and the procurement of two ambulances.
DeMeritt is married to his high school sweetheart, Krystle. They have two children, Lily, 7 and Maverik, 1.
Michelle Maiden indicated that the paddles presented represent "guiding" as used to guide one along the river. Insurance Outfitters plans to continue the presentation of Guide Awards annually with the assistance of the Rotary of Shepherdstown.