A most deserving recipient

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By Brandon Mattingly

I couldn’t have been more pleased when I found out earlier this month that Bernard Smalley was going to be named Citizen of the Year by the Springfield-Washington County Chamber of Commerce. I’ve spent a little over two years working in the Washington County community, and I’d be hard-pressed to say I’ve crossed paths with a more genuine person who cared more about Washington County than Bernard.

That’s saying something, because nearly every person I’ve met here has had nothing but a kind word to say, and there is no shortage of residents who love calling Washington County home. Still, Bernard seems to engulf himself into the community in ways that almost no one else can.

Whether fulfilling his duties as park director at Idle Hour Park, coaching high school and middle school basketball teams or organizing local Little League seasons, Bernard is involved in this community year-round.

Although I wasn’t able to attend Friday’s awards gala, I know his wife—and our general manager—Shorty Lassiter, was able to plant the rumor in Bernard’s ear weeks ago that she was actually the one who was going to be honored and that she was the one who couldn’t find out the big surprise.

Aside from being a genius way to put responsibility on Bernard to show up to his own award ceremony, I know it made for a great surprise for him to find out he was being recognized by the community he’s put so much work into.

Some of what Bernard has done can be plainly seen around Springfield. You won’t have to look far for his influence this summer, when countless guests pass through Springfield for district baseball and state softball Little League tournaments that he had a big hand in organizing. The real impact, however, is in the relationships he’s built with everyone he’s come in contact with. Few can say they’ve been as positive an influence on local youth as he has over the years. Congrats Bernard!

Editor’s note: Congratulations to all of the winners at this year’s Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala. Keep an eye on The Sun for the announcement of the Lifetime Achievement Award winner.