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'Action volunteer' saluted as the Citizen of the Year

Jerry Cash is showered with applause after being named the 2018 New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year.”

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Jerry Cash has taken the “re” in the word retirement and done some remarkable things.

Like lead re-vitalization of a neighborhood. Or help people re-claim their lives from drugs. Or aid in the re-purposing of land for trails. Or assist in re-invigorating childhood education.

The retired executive director of the New Castle Housing Authority needs to revise his resume today and add 2018 Citizen of the Year.

Shaun DuFault, executive director of the New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, and Maurie Goodwin, last year’s recipient, made the presentation.

Described as “an action volunteer,” Cash’s acceptance speech was both succinct and sincere.

“I would reflect back on the fact that working in this town I saw some people who, upon retirement, gave back to the community – Herb Bunch, Bev Hankenhoff and Joan Stairs. So it’s been my intention in retirement to mirror those people,” Cash said.

DuFault said 81 people have received the Chamber honor since its inception in 1942. Bunch won it in 2001, Hankenhoff in 1993 and Stairs in 1989.

Tuesday’s event at the New Castle Armory included a humorous tongue-in-check political correctness tone from Goodwin, who, with his introduction of Cash, was careful to be pronoun neutral.

“It says here our recipient graduated from Chrysler High School, but he or she graduated with me and I graduated from Walter P. Memorial Chrysler High School,” Goodwin said, creating laughter in the room.

Many view Cash’s story as an inspiring one for Henry County. Like Business of the Year owner Susan Falck-Neal, Cash grew up here, worked here, left for a period of time, then came back.

One of his main focuses currently is leading revitalization of the Castle Heights area.

“We’ve taken a neighborhood and we’re trying to make a difference there, trying to revitalize and change outlooks on their neighborhood, get them involved and give them some ownership on how they can improve things,” Cash said.

In his introduction, Goodwin credited Cash with leading efforts in government, education, housing, family and youth programs.

The original chair of the Henry County Housing Committee, Cash has also helped programs like LifeStream, Interlocal Community Action Program, Christian Love Help Center, United Fund and Westminster Community Center. Goodwin said Cash has, over the years, played a significant role in bringing Henry County more than a million dollars in grant funds to improve lives here.

The Chamber “Citizen of the Year” is chosen based on public nominations submitted in January and February. The previous five winners of the award select from the nominations received.

This year’s committee was made up of previous winners Maurie Goodwin, Nancy Dietz, Dennis and Cathy Hamilton, Denny Adams and Jeff Ray.