Breckenridge Texan

Barbara Thornton named Citizen of the Year

Barbara Thornton named Citizen of the Year
February 08
08:54 2019

At the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 7, Barbara Thornton, Jessie Shortes and Breckenridge Auto and Engine Supply were honored for their contributions to the community.

The guest speaker was Carolina Witcher, the marketing director for the Chick-fil-A restaurant on South Clack Street in Abilene. The event, which was catered by The Rusty Rooster, also raised money for the organization’s scholarship fund.

2018 Citizen of the Year

Diane Williams, left, a representative of U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway’s office, presented each of Thursday night’s winners with a certificate from the congressman. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Tim Seymore, the 2017 Citizen of the Year, introduced the newest honoree, Barbara Thornton.

“Saying that this person gives their time would be a complete understatement,” Seymore said, before Thornton’s name was revealed. “Whether they’re giving back to the community or spending time with others to let them know someone cares, you know you’ll always be able to find this person getting involved. The Open Door, the Woman’s Forum, Friends of Historic Breckenridge have all been blessed to have this person either volunteer for the organization or serve as a board member.

He went on to describe Thornton’s involvement with other organizations, including Feed the Lambs, a program that makes sure local children have a meal to eat during the summer. Some of her other volunteer work includes delivering meals to sick and elderly residents in Breckenridge and running the Bargain Box thrift store.

“I enjoy all these things I do; it’s fun and I have a good team that I work with,” Thornton said, accepting the award. “Thank you very much.”

2018 Business of the Year

Steve Leonard, left, accepted the award naming Breckenridge Auto and Engine Supply as the 2018 Business of the Year. The award was presented by last year’s winner, David Whealy, owner of the local McDonald’s. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

The award for Business of the Year was presented by last year’s winner, David Whealy, owner of the local McDonald’s Restaurant, to Breckenridge Auto and Engine Supply, owned by Steve Leonard.

“To tell the story, we have to go all the way back to the 1970s,” Whealy said as he introduced the recipient. “April 1, 1973, this business started as a small supply shop. The shop was where the main gallery of the Breckenridge Fine Arts Center is right now.”

Later, the business moved to its current location, which has 2,000 square feet of retail space and 5,000 square feet of work space, Whealy said.

“One key aspect that really leads to success in this business is the owner genuinely cares about the employees,” he said before the honoree had been named. “He makes it a point to see to their needs, lets them off for family-related events, but he also lets them have time off for community-related options.”

He also described the many ways that Breckenridge Auto and Engine gives back to the community of Breckenridge by supporting programs, such as Meals on Wheels, youth sporting organizations, the annual livestock show, the schools, the sheriff’s drug awareness program, the fire department, local reading programs.

Accepting the award, owner Steve Leonard said, “Forty-six years ago, April 1, we started doing what we do even today; the same thing we do today, we did then. Breckenridge has been so good to us, it is unbelievable. We are proud of every employee, every customer that we have, and always have been. We are so thankful for this award; thank you very much.”

Ag Citizen of the Year

Jessie Shortes, right, was named the 2018 Ag Citizens of the Year. She was not able to attend the ceremony on Thursday. She is pictured here at the recent livestock show. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

The award for the Ag Citizen of the Year was presented prior to the awards ceremony to Breckenridge High School ag teacher Jessie Shortes, who was unable to be at the ceremony.

During Thursday night’s event, the Chamber presented a video of the award presentation, which took place Tuesday, Jan. 29, at a family dinner.

“Thank y’all. This community is amazing and welcomed me with open arms five years ago,” Shortes said. “For you, parents, thank you for entrusting me with your kiddos and letting me be a part of our FFA program because they’re amazing, and so are y’all.”

Guest Speaker

Carolina Witcher, a marketing representative for Chick-fil-A in Abilene, was the guest speaker at Thursday night’s Chamber event. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Before the awards were handed out, the crowd at the Chamber event had the opportunity to listen to Carolina Witcher, the marketing director for one of the Chick-fil-A restaurants in Abilene.

She spoke about how business owners can see more success by developing a good relationship between the employers and employees. She touched on three principles for positive employee engagement – clarity, development and celebration.

Witcher emphasized the need for employers to be clear about what they expect from their team of staff members, as well as to provide them with opportunities to develop their skills and potential. Finally, she encouraged the attendees to remember to include celebration in the workplace, allowing some fun for the employees.

She discussed some of the issues that arise when a business has employees of several different ages. “The best thing that we can do is look to the value of what each generation brings to the table,” Witcher said. “Think about the different generations that are represented in your organization, how you can lean into those, and then provide feedback to each of them.”


Story by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Last year’s Citizen of the Year, Tim Seymore, introduces this year’s honoree, Barbara Thornton. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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