The Governor's Volunteer Stars Award was created 11 years ago by former Gov. Phil Bredesen to recognize the most outstanding adult and youth volunteer in every Tennessee county. Sullivan County doesn't participate.
Cherokee NJROTC Cadet Commander Heather Whitt was announced last week as Hawkins County's youth recipient, while Rogersville Fire Department volunteer Chris Rimer was named the adult recipient.
The Hawkins County Chamber of Commerce oversees the Hawkins County nomination process, and both winners were announced last week during a Chamber meeting held at the Of One Accord ministry's Shepherd Center.
Whitt and Rimer are now invited to attend the 2018 Governor's Volunteer Stars Awards banquet in Franklin on Feb. 10.
Whitt, a senior, has been in the Cherokee’s NJROTC since 2015, and she was hand picked for the battalion commanding officer position, becoming the highest ranking cadet in the battalion.
Her daily duties include leading, guiding, directing, mustering and providing physical fitness training for more than 125 cadets each semester.
Her nomination form states that Whitt’s military uniform appearance is above reproach, and she exemplifies the Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment. She is the consummate leader for others to emulate.
In the community, Whitt has personally completed more than 317 hours of community service while in NJROTC.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, she spearheaded a NJROTC food drive yielding 1,460 pounds of food for the Hawkins County food bank.
On April 13, 2018, Whitt participated in the sixth trip to Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City to deliver 175 Jared boxes.
A Jared box is a small plastic gender- and age-specific container holding a variety of small toys that a child might enjoy.
Whitt also serves as a mentor to young cadets in Cherokee’s NJROTC program, providing a great example of a motivated student, cadet and community leader.
As a volunteer member of the Rogersville Fire Department for the past 14 years, Rimer has put his life on the line to protect and rescue others, responded to vehicle accidents, structure fires, brush fires and other emergencies prompting fire department response.
Rural fire departments in counties like Hawkins County additionally take on projects like one headed up by Rimer in which Christmas baskets were distributed to needy families. Resources are always lacking, necessitating Rimer to participate in many additional fundraisers and roadblocks.
As a volunteer firefighter, Rimer works full time in the medical equipment field to provide for his family while at the same answering emergency calls when needed. He also has many hours of required training each year.
He has also been a member of the Hawkins County Hazmat Team for 16 years, and as such he is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week in case of a chemical spill or other potential disaster. He has answered many calls to keep local residents safe.
As a first responder for Rogersville for the past 14 years, fellow volunteers say Rimer is one of the most selfless people they know and is always ready to help others.
Despite his busy schedule, Rimer still finds time to help coach his son Caleb's baseball team.