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April 25, 2005   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
April 25, 2005

Alabama Farm-City Committee Chairman J. Paul Till, left, and Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry A. Newby, right, present Chambers County the award for Best Farm-City Committee in Alabama during an awards program April 25 in Birmingham. Accepting the award for Chambers County were Chambers County Farm-City Chairman Darrell Bishop, and Cathy Blackburn.
BIRMINGHAM-- County volunteers, who work to bridge the gap between urban and rural residents, were honored along with young artists and writers April 25 during the Alabama Farm-City Committee's awards luncheon in Birmingham.

Chambers County won the award for Best Farm-City Committee in the state while young artists from Chambers and Lawrence counties took top honors in the Farm-City Poster Contest. Budding journalists from Randolph and Montgomery counties submitted the winning entries in the Farm-City Essay Contest.

Established in 1955 as a way to foster relationships between farmers and city folks, National Farm-City Week is observed each year the week before Thanksgiving. The Alabama awards program, which was held in conjunction with the Alabama Farmers Federation's Women's Conference, recognized county groups and individuals for activities associated with the annual observance.

Federation President Jerry Newby said the theme "Agriculture -- A Growing Future" gives the organization a chance to celebrate the contributions its members make to society not only as farmers, but also as volunteers, small business owners, civic leaders and bi-vocational workers. "Farmers were the founding fathers of our country and helped shape our nation," Newby said. "Farmers still play a vital role in America today. Not only do they provide the food and clothing for our country, but through their hard work and ingenuity, they produce enough food to feed the entire world."

In addition to being named Overall Best Farm-City Committee, Chambers County won the top award for Division I, which includes counties with populations of 35,600 or more. The county also was judged to have the Best Civic Club Activities for that division. Meanwhile, Pickens County had the Best Farm-City Committee for Division II, which includes counties with populations of less than 35,600. Pickens County also was recognized for Best Special Activities and Best Farm City Dinner.

In Division I, Cullman County was Runner-Up for Best Farm-City Committee. Coffee County was recognized for the Best Media Coverage for Division I. Montgomery County won the Division 1 award for the Best Farm-City Tour. Russell County was honored for Best Special Activities, while Calhoun County was honored with the Proclamation Award and Jackson County won for the Best Farm-City Dinner.

Pike County was Runner-Up for Best Farm-City Committee in Division II and received the Proclamation and Best Civic Club Activities awards. Other Division II winners included Cherokee County, Best Farm-City Tour and Randolph County, Best Media Coverage.

In addition to the county awards, young artists and writers also were recognized for their outstanding entries in the Farm-City poster and essay contests. The theme for both contests was "Agriculture: A Growing Future." In the poster contest, Sarah Dorough of Chambers County won first place in the kindergarten to third-grade division, and Jacob Sprinkle of Lawrence County took top honors among fourth to sixth-graders. Hunter Voss of Cullman County placed second in the kindergarten to third-grade division, and Jordan Dill of Jefferson County placed second for students in grades 4-6.

Poster contest winners each received $200 for first place and their schools received $200 as well. Second-place winners each received $100, as did their schools.

Sawyer Spratlin of Randolph County placed first in the essay contest for grades 7-9 while Dakota Missildine of Montgomery County won among 10th- to 12th-graders. Second-place honors went to Madolyn Price of Tallapoosa County for grades 7-9, and Wyatt Smith of Pickens County for grades 10-12. First-place winners in the essay contest each received $300 cash and their classroom received $300 as well. Second-place winners received $200 cash, as did their classrooms.

Contestants qualified for the state awards by winning top honors in their home counties. Some of the posters will be reprinted in the 2006 Farm-City calendars.

As the grand finale of the Farm-City awards luncheon, a Coffee County farm was named Alabama's 2005 Farm of Distinction. James and Joyce Wise of Coffee County were selected for the statewide honor from a field of five district winners and one at-large winner. The Wises' operation is a diversified row crop and beef cattle farm covering 3,500 acres. As this year's winner, the Wises received a John Deere Gator CX valued at $5,200 donated by Wire Road Tractor in Auburn, Lawn & Leisure in Montgomery and Henry Farm Center with stores in Abbeville, Brundidge and Dothan. The Wises also received a customized farm sign valued at $1, 300 from the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Health and a $1,000 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative. This fall, they will compete with outstanding farms from seven other Southeastern states for the title of Lancaster/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. The winner, who will receive $14,000 plus other prizes, will be announced Oct. 18-20 during the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga.

Other finalists for the Farm of Distinction were: Ronald and Ann Vaughn of Huntsville in Madison County, Mark and Debbie Randall of Ethelsville in Pickens County, Bill and Leeta Thomas of LaFayette in Chambers County, Alvin and Dot Stone of Pine Apple in Wilcox County and Joe and Debbie Roberts of Fayette in Fayette County. Each of the finalists received a plaque and a $250 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative.

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