Pictured, from left, are Buckhannon Exemplary Service Testimonial award winners Zachary Mutchler, Stan Rexroad, Bill Nicholson, Amanda Hayes, mayor David McCauley, John Keough, Robin Keough and Shirley Tinney.

BUCKHANNON – They have standout records of community service, and on Saturday, the City of Buckhannon officially dedicated a bench in Jawbone Park bearing their names.

The 13 individuals who have been honored since October 2018 for their volunteerism efforts with the Buckhannon Exemplary Service Testimonial award were once again recognized Saturday at 12:30 p.m. during the BEST Bench dedication at the city’s Community Unity and Kindness Day of Service 2019.

Mayor David McCauley presents Amanda Hayes with the inaugural Buckhannon Exemplary Service Testimonial award at a Buckhannon City Council meeting in October 2018.

In addition to inaugural BEST award recipient Amanda Hayes, a dozen other individuals or groups have been acknowledged for their dedication to making Buckhannon a better place to live; they include Zachary Mutchler, Robin Keough, Shirley Tinney, Bill Nicholson, Dr. Joseph Reed, Dr. Paul Richter, April Keating, Brad and Kim Lincicome, Dr. Kathy Gregg, Stan Rexroad, Rich Clemens and Buckhannon Elks Lodge No. 1736, the first organization to be so honored.

The Elks Lodge No. 1736 was honored as the first group to receive the BEST award at city council’s meeting Oct. 4. Pictured, from left, are Elks members Beth Waddell Patton, Rose Clutter, grand exalted ruler Michael Livesay, McCauley, Donna Matthews, Jerry Wilfong and Charles Washington.

The 12:30 p.m. ceremony followed a morning of community service coordinated by volunteer and animal advocate Robin Keough, city information coordinator and grant writer Callie Cronin Sams and Buckhannon Volunteer Center coordinator Gabriella Sayger. Individuals and organizations met at 8 a.m. and from 9 a.m. to noon worked at a variety of service sites, returning to Jawbone Park for a pizza party and the BEST Bench dedication at noon.

If you’re interested in volunteering in Buckhannon or Upshur County, call Sayger or Sams at 304-472-1651 or email BAvolunteer@buckhannonwv.org. Volunteers – and organizations in search of them – can connect with each other directly at the Buckhannon Volunteer Center website at buckhannonwv.galaxydigital.com.

During his remarks, Buckhannon mayor David McCauley took note of the fact that Keating, the city’s May honoree and a stalwart environmental advocate, had passed away just a week prior on Saturday Sept. 28, and attendees had a moment of silence honoring her life and efforts.

McCauley’s remarks at the BEST Bench dedication appear in full below:

“On behalf of everyone associated with our City, including our residents who appreciate your volunteerism today, we thank each and every one of you for your contributions today toward our very successful, second now annual CommUnity & Kindness Day. Service to one’s community is simply the best gift. Volunteerism epitomizes coming together for a common cause. In the order of human behavior, it ranks at the top of the spectrum for humanity.

“During the past year-and-a-half, Buckhannon has undertaken three major initiatives to further our efforts to feature service in our community. First, our city committed itself to establishing the Buckhannon Volunteer Center. Thanks to our current BVC point person, Gabriella Sayger, for recently undertaking this very important task. Second, thanks to the idea of Robin Keough who’s here today volunteering, we started CommUnity & Kindness Day.

“Third, to recognize those who give their all for Buckhannon, we created the BEST Award – BEST being the acronym for Buckhannon Exemplary Service Testimonial. Since October of 2018, our City has now honored 12 individuals and one organization for their exceptional service to our community.

“Today, we dedicate our BEST Bench right here in Jawbone Park, that place where we as a community so often come together. The 13 honorees during our first year of recognizing the best of the BEST [are] Amanda Hayes, Zachary Mutchler, Robin Keough, Shirley Tinney, Bill Nicholson, Dr. Joseph Reed, Dr. Paul Richter, April Keating, Brad and Kim Lincicome, Dr. Kathy Gregg, Stan Rexroad, Rich Clemens and Buckhannon Elks Lodge No. 1736, who we just recognized Thursday evening.

“A week ago today, we lost April Keating, who was honored in May with our BEST award. As I stated during the opening of our City Council meeting Thursday evening, we all knew that April was battling cancer back in the spring. We then hoped that she would live for many more years thereafter, to continue to advance discussions about tough issues – the environment, protecting our water supply, endorsing all things pertaining to peace and kindness.

“It was important that we recognized her then, not wanting to leave to chance that opportunity to convey our thanks. While we will always miss April, we also will always remember her. Please join me in a moment of silent tribute to April Keating, one of our best of the BEST.”