The board of directors of the Brownstown Chamber of Commerce rarely has to dig too deeply to find someone worthy of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
This year was no different, as it went to the person who has been teaching music to thousands of students at the high school and middle school since 1975.
Jan Willey, however, was surprised she had been picked for the chamber’s top award, presented during the organization’s annual dinner meeting Thursday night at Pewter Hall.
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“It has been wonderful, and it has gone fast. Forty years has gone very, very fast,” she said. “And it’s now a new journey. I appreciate it very much.”
Willey announced her retirement as music teacher earlier this year. She also directed the high school’s annual musical for the 40 years she was at the school and for five years as a student.
Carl Shake and Sean Hildreth with the Jackson County Bicentennial Committee spoke about that group’s work, which includes the opening of a Bicentennial Headquarters at 202 S. Main St. in Brownstown. Both men talked about the need for volunteers to help organize celebrations of the 200th birthdays of the county, town and state in 2016.
As a recruiting tool, an open house, featuring wine and cheese, has been planned for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the headquarters.
Hildreth said one of the first activities planned for 2016 will be a ball with big-band music, dance lessons and a silent auction. That event will be Jan. 1, the 200th birthday of the county. Tickets will be available in a month or so, Hildreth said.
During the awards presentation, Jackie Hill with Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. talked about how that organization’s board of directors recently completed a strategic three-year plan.
“And one of the focus points that came out of that plan was to concentrate on the development of shovel-ready sites in the county and specific high emphasis placed on sites in Brownstown,” she said.
Hill then presented the Teacher of the Year award to Brownstown Central High School teacher Robin Perry and recognized Brownstown Central student Clint Singer for winning the Maverick Challenge at the county level and placing second in the regional competition at Columbus. Singer won $3,800 for his efforts.
Hill, who is the county coordinator for the challenge, said Perry has been involved with the challenge since it began in Jackson County in 2011, and students at Brownstown Central have earned $18,650 under her direction.
Hill said teachers such as Perry have the job of keeping students competing in the challenge focused and on schedule.
The chamber’s other award winners were Amanda Stuckwisch, who was named Teen Citizen of the Year, and Debra Schill, a certified public accountant from Crothersville with an office in Brownstown.
Stuckwisch’s parents, Ed and Sara Stuckwisch, accepted the award for their daughter, who is overseas at this time. Amanda, who graduated from Brownstown Central this spring, plans to attend Purdue University in the fall.
Stuckwisch has been involved in 4-H, FFA, National Honor Society, volleyball, community service projects and activities at her church, board President Kim Cooper said.
“She is involved in so many activities,” Cooper said. “And in almost every one, she’s on the executive board. She’s a busy kid.”
Schill, a Brownstown native who moved to Crothersville more than three decades ago, said opening an office in Brownstown has been good for business and allowed her to renew connections with people she knew while growing up.
Cooper also talked about the past year’s chamber activities before handing the reins of the board to new president Arann Banks. Banks then introduced new board members Jeff Morning, Greg Walker, Hope Sitterding, Missy Bane, Todd Stinson and Todd Darlage.