Lowell Lawson, one of the busiest people I know, is well known for his work in community activities including working with senior citizen events and as a founding director of the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame.
Linda Statham, a speech therapist, stays as busy as Lowell. She, too, is involved in community service. Linda worked with the Brownings at Hickory Flat.
Starting with Lowell and Linda, a committee was formed. Insuring its success, Reuben Wilson, W. A. Pressley, Barbara Parisi, Laura Kud and Glenda Chumley became a part of the group. The decision was made to establish an award for those who had rendered outstanding service to the people of Hickory Flat. It would be given annually. Recently, the first awards were presented.
As Hickory Flat Elementary School teacher John Turner, emcee for the evening, presented the recipients of the award, he told about the many contributions they had made to the community.
Playing a prominent role in the early days of medical care in the area, Dr. William O. and Mattie Rhodes cared for the sick. Dr. Rhodes had a three-room office on Highway 140 just north of where Kroger is now. They lived next door. He delivered about 4,000 babies.
Both he and his wife were generous people. For one of their projects, Mattie Rhodes raised money for the construction of Hickory Flat School. She made a quilt. For 10 cents, residents of the community wrote their names on the quilt. Then, she embroidered over the names. She raised $75. Next she sold raffle tickets for 5 cents each. Hickory Flat resident Tommy Mann, a small child at the time, won the raffle. He and his wife, Patty, displayed the quilt at the awards ceremony.
Also honored were the men and women of the Hickory Flat Volunteer Fire Department. In presenting their award, John Turner said, "a group of 80 elite men and women established the Hickory Flat Volunteer Fire Department in September of 1975. Carter Browning was one of those 80 individuals. Since then, men and women have dedicated their lives - with no compensation - to save lives and properties while protecting the community."
Since they first organized in 1975, they have made more 15,000 service calls. Currently there are 40 members. Charter members Clark Cloud, Chief Larry Berry and County Commissioner Jim Hubbard are still active members.
The emcee introduced Ty and Betty Adams saying, "Whether spreading joy as Santa's helpers or coaching sports in Cherokee County, the Adams Family are, simply stated, Hickory Flat. From raising money to benefit school events to numerous service positions within their church, Ty and Betty Adams have worked as a team, just as the Brownings did, to make Hickory Flat the fine community it is today."
Many know Ty and Betty as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. For the past 12 years, they have opened their Ho-Ho-House at their residence on Bart Manous Road. Families from far and wide have visited Santa, roasted marshmallows, had hot chocolate and talked with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
While a child, Ty helped build the gymnasium at the school. The materials and labor were donated by people in the community. An outstanding high school and college athlete, Ty was inducted into the Cherokee County Sports Fall of Fame.
He was a leader in establishing the East Cherokee Youth Baseball League and he coached the first team in the league. For 21 years he was president of State Dizzy Dean Baseball.
On a personal note, I was especially proud of Betty and Ty. She and I were roommates at Reinhardt College. Later, I was in their wedding. Betty retired after a career with the school system.
They have filled many roles at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. As the emcee said, their roles at Mt. Zion are too numerous to name. Ty has been a member of the church for 60 years. Betty joined after they were married.
Dr. and Mrs. Rhodes, the men and women of the Hickory Flat Volunteer Department and Betty and Ty Adams are just a few examples of the kind of people who live in Hickory Flat.
County Commissioner Jim Hubbard described Hickory Flat and its residents well when he said, "Hickory Flat is a state of mind."
Marguerite Cline is former mayor of Waleska and a former county school superintendent.