PALMYRA, Mo. -- Bill Wommack, a Palmyra veterinarian, goes out of his way to make life better for others in his adopted hometown, where he has lived for the past 45 years.
On Thursday night, Wommack was given a pat on the back for his efforts when he was named Citizen of the Year at the Palmyra Area Chamber of Commerce's annual awards banquet.
The award recognizes people who have made significant contributions to the welfare and betterment of Palmyra through their involvement.
Christine Crawford, secretary of the Palmyra Area Food Pantry, nominated Wommack and talked about the many ways he helps the Palmyra community.
For example, she said Wommack assists the food pantry by making a weekly trip with a covered trailer -- at his own expense -- to bring back needed resources from the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri in Columbia.
"Without these extra trips the doctor makes, we probably wouldn't be able to serve our senior citizens and our families as well as we do," Crawford said.
Wommack also frequently donates various handcrafted wooden items that he makes to special causes for auctions. For instance, each year he donates items to help the Flower Children team raise money for its American Cancer Society Relay for Life fundraising campaign.
"These pieces have raised substantial resources for cancer research for the American Cancer Society," Crawford said.
She also applauded Wommack for helping Heartland Ministries by opening his home to people and families awaiting space at the Heartland facility before starting on their recovery efforts.
He also is known for compassionately treating, boarding and finding homes for lost or abandoned pets, Crawford said.
Wommack expressed gratitude for the recognition, saying he is happy to do what he can to help Palmyra.
"This is a wonderful place to live and work," he said. "I'm so proud to call this my home."
Another highlight of the night was the presentation of the Teacher of the Year award to Tracy Fountain, a freshman English teacher at Palmyra High School who also serves as a technology coach.
"Tracy is one of the most encouraging, committed, positive, creative and intelligent persons that I've had the privilege to know in my 29 years of teaching," said Kendra Tiemann, a PHS counselor who nominated Fountain for the award.
Fountain said she didn't realize until she was 36 that she was meant to be a teacher. She has been devoted to the profession ever since.
"I love my kids," she said. "Every day they energize me. They make me laugh. They frustrate me at times, but I get past it."
Fountain said she was "truly overwhelmed" to be honored for her work as a teacher.
"There is no better job than this," she said. "I love every day that I get to walk into that school."
Also receiving awards at the banquet were:
º Ken and Penny Kroencke, Volunteers of the Year. The Kroenckes were nominated for the many hours they spend helping out at the Palmyra Nutrition Center. Tammy Nix, the center's director, said the Kroenckes both "have a heart of gold" for their work picking up food, delivering food to the homebound, and helping with various fundraisers. They also do volunteer work for their church, Immanuel Baptist in Hannibal.
º Lovegreen Motors, Palmyra's Business Hall of Fame inductee. The company -- now owned by Jim Lovegreen, grandson of the founder -- has been operating successfully in Palmyra for 83 years.
º Doug Dry of the Rebel Pig, Paint Brush Award. Dry received the honor for giving a major face-lift to the Main Street restaurant.
º Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd, President's Award. Bringer Shepherd accepted the honor, which she earned for helping the chamber have a successful year by volunteering her time, efforts and energy.
º Service awards were given to the outgoing president, Charlene Jones-Liendo, and to two outgoing board members, Randy Hopson and Josh Steffen.