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February 19, 2014

Chamber cites Miller, Root with top honors

DUNCAN — The Duncan Chamber of Commerce and Industry named Dr. Che´ Miller its Man of the Year and Haylee Root its Woman of the Year during its annual banquet at the Simmons Center on Tuesday.

A sold-out crowd of about 350 applauded heartily for Miller and Root and, by extension, Duncan Regional Hospital, which employs both of them.

Miller, praised for his humanitarian efforts and his medical research, said he was genuinely surprised by the honor, telling the crowd that his fellow nominees have been his role models, particularly Dr. Jimmy Jones.

“I’m lucky to work at the greatest hospital in the state, if not the world,” he said.

Root, too, acknowledged Duncan Regional Hospital for allowing her to devote time to charitable endeavors. If she were still running her own business, she said, she simply wouldn’t have the time to help organizations such as the United Way of Stephens County, whose campaign she chairs this year.

Miller and Root have been prominent citizens of Duncan for years.

Miller, a University of Oklahoma medical school graduate, has received a string of accolades, including the University of Oklahoma Regents Award and appointment to the Gold Humanitarian Honor Society. He devotes time each year to mission work in foreign countries, where he combines his surgery skills with ministry work.

Miller also helps the Compassion Clinic, the Adopt a Doc program, the Relay for Life and the Duncan High School football team. Duncan Regional Hospital has awarded its Guardian Angel Award to him six times.

“He is the very definition of kindhearted and compassionate,” said Jari Askins, the former state lieutenant governor who returned to her hometown to serve as mistress of ceremonies for the banquet.

Root heads the PR/Marketing and Business Development arm of Duncan Regional Hospital.

She  is know for her volunteer work and leadership skills with organizations such as the United Way of Stephens County.

She took advantage of her moment in the spotlight to remind the crowd there is still time to make a donation to the United Way campaign, which has reached 95 percent of its goal this year,

Quoting Lauren Ellis, executive director of United Way, Åskins said Root “has a servant’s heart, and is always willing to go the exra mile for those around her and the causes she supports.”

Root and her husband Steven own the Palace Theater in downtown Duncan.

The chamber banquet also paid tribute to others it deemed noteworthy for the past year’s achievements.

The Free Enterprise Award was given to Chisholm Corner Convenience Stores that is operated by Brent Bostick, though his City Mart Enterprises and City Mart Energy. Bostick and his company “epitomizes the entrepreneurial free enterprise sysem that has made our community great through the years,” Askins said before presenting the award.

The Community Improvement Award, given to businesses or organizations that improved the physical appearance of Duncan during the past year, was given to the Leadership Ducan Class XVI for the wrought iron fence it provided at Kiwanis Kiddieland in Fuqua Park.

The children’s amusement park, which lies along Duncan’s most heavily traveled thoroughfare on U.S. 81, was previously ringed by a chain-link fence.

The chamber presented its Al Hinshaw Community Spirit Award, named in honor of the late former mayor Al Hinshaw, was given to the Tilley Group for its support of numerous charities, events and other activities.

 “Jimmy and Kimberly Tilley definitely demonstrate the `can do´ spirit in our community. They encourage all of their employees to do so as well,” said Askins.

Finally, the chamber cited two of its ambassadors for their contributions to the organization during the past year.

Dina Atnip received the Ambassador of the Year Award and Trina Madden received the Rookie of the Year Award.

Atnip is an independent consultant for Pampered Chef and participates wth the chamber’s breakfast committee.

Madden is the executive director of the Workforce Investment Board at ASCOG.

Chamber ambassadors volunteer their time for ribbon cutting ceremonies, tourism events and other activities.

The rookie award is determined with a vote by other ambassadors after the field is narrowed to three candidates who have attended the most events.

The ambassador award also is determined by a point system and a vote of the ambassors.

David Hooten, a Grammy-nominated trumpet player from Duncan, provided entertainment during the banquet. He told the crowd he always has been proud to say he is from Duncan, whether he was meeting the Pope or a member of royalty.

For her part, Askins provided a quick ad lib when necessary, including an impromptu comic moment when chamber’s popular president, Chris Deal, knocked over a tray on stage.

But she closed out the evening with a heartfelt reminder when she told the crowd of their value to their town.

“The City of Duncan is a better place because you are here,” she said.

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