Having 43 years of service to Empire Public Schools and a new Ag building built following bond approval to pay for the new building, the district honored Mr. Bill Cheatwood by naming the building after him.
Empire Public Schools Superintendent Justin Smith officially hosted a ribbon cutting earlier this week for the Cheatwood Ag Complex which is scheduled to be finished by this summer before the next school year.
In a ceremony in front of some of the stakeholders for the district, Smith said he wanted to take time to thank the community for helping make this building a possibility.
“Today we have the opportunity to celebrate the opening of our new Ag Show Barn and this building was paid for by a bond issue that was voted on by our community. Our district would like to say again thank you for the support to our community,” Smith said. “This building will serve several purposes and the main purpose is to be hosting Jackpot Livestock shows and local livestock shows and the preparation of livestock, livestock judging competitions and other fundraiser opportunities. The building will also house and protect our route buses when not in use as well as various other events. We are very appreciative of the community and for their support to get this built.”
Smith continued by talking about Cheatwood and telling everyone that his 43 years of service has recently given him the honor to be one of the inaugural six teachers to be bestowed a new honor.
The Oklahoma FFA Foundation created the new, “Here by the Owl” Ag teacher permanent trust fund and Cheatwood met the criteria of the award by impacting the community and school district.
“This award is given to teachers that have significantly impacted their community and students and have been involved in years of dedicated service within the profession. Only six Ag teachers were bestowed this honor and this building will only add to the growth and the continue to strength our FFA and 4H program,” Smith said. “We will have an official grand opening once the building is completed and we wanted to do this today before the Ag banquet tonight and the FFA Banquet so that is why we are doing it a little early. Again, we will have a grand opening once it is completed later in the summer.”
As Smith wrapped up his speech, the surprise came out that Cheatwood was the namesake of the building. With tears in his eyes, he cut the ribbon and a round of applause sounded.
“We wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank the community our school board and Mr. Cheatwood for all they have done to make this possible,” Smith said. “So to do the official ribbon cutting, I would like Mr. Cheatwood to come over and again, we are very appreciative of the Cheatwood Ag Complex.”
Cheatwood was very surprised about the honor and felt humbled by what this means to the district and the students.
“No, I didn’t know about the name,” Cheatwood said. “I think it is a great deal but I don’t know if it need to be named after me because I’m still around, but it is a great deal for the school and the community, and for the kids which is what we do it for, is the kids.”
Cheatwood said he has been blessed with great students and is happy to keep teaching.
Plans will be made officially to have a grand opening and tour of the building upon completion and for Cheatwood, he said this will help tremendously to keep growing the program.
“One thing I always liked having a local show here because the elementary kids and the high school and junior high can come and watch the show and it created interest in growing our program,” Cheatwood said. “When we started having it at the Fairgrounds, we lost a lot of that when the younger people didn’t get to watch. But I think it should help grow our program and have our local show here and some jackpots and some sales and contests. I would also like to use it for teaching because then I can bring livestock in and learn some new things so it will be great.”