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Criswell selected Citizen of the Year

DeWitt Era-Enterprise of DeWitt, Arkansas

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"It's about time."

That was the consensus among the 150 people at the annual DeWitt Chamber of Commerce banquet lastThursday night when Sherry Criswell was named the "Best of DeWitt" Citizen of the Year.

It made sense because Criswell has been working to make DeWitt a better place to live longer than most residents of the area have been alive.

Part of her contributions came from her job. She worked at what is now Arkansas County Bank for almost half a century, starting as an "office girl" and retiring last year as a vice president.

"I worked with Sherry for well over 20 years, working with her and learning from her all the banking knowledge she had to share," says current bank president Warren Jennings Jr. "She was all about details, details, details. I went from having her babysit me to her bossing me and working with me."

Part of that came from her 18-year tenure on the Arkansas County Quorum Court. "With her banking background and her innate sense of 'what's right, 'she has been an excellent Quorum Court member," said Arkansas County Judge Glenn "Sonny" Cox.

Another part of her contribution benefitted Phillips Community College. She has been a member of the Board of Visitors since PCC expanded into Arkansas County in 1997.

"It couldn't have gone to a more deserving person," said PCCUA chancellor Dr. Stephen Murray.

Part of Criswell's drive comes from her no-nonsense attitude. That's something to which some people have trouble adjusting.

"I was scared of her for the first two to three months I knew her, but then came to admire her so much for her attitude towards life," says PCCUA DeWitt campus vice chancellor Carolyn Turner.

Criswell is also a member of PCC's Single Parent Scholarship fund, is very active in her church and is an eager contributor to the Christian Charitable Medical Clinic, which provides medical services to indigent residents of the community.

"She truly believes that people need to take responsibility for themsel ves, and she does what she says she is going to do. She is committed and dedicated to anything she puts her mind to," Turner says. "She says that anyone can make a difference in his or her life, but it starts with you, and you have to really want it. What you get from her is really in her heart. She has a passion for helping people reach their potential. She has made me a better citizen."

Criswell, unlike the other 150 people in the room at the time, was "very surprised to be named Citizen of the Year. "I just enjoy being around people and doing what I can to help people," Criswell said after receiving the award. "People always say, 'There's nothing to do in DeWitt.' There's plenty to do; you just have to get up and do it."

Criswell has always followed her own advice. It's hard to think of a worthy cause in the last 50 years that she hasn't aided.

"She cares so much about and takes an active interest in our community. She is a model citizen of DeWitt; she has done a lot for it," Jennings says. "She is always behind the scenes working on behalf of all the people in DeWitt making it better. She set the bar high for what civic service is all about for the rest of us to work toward and try to live up to."

Copyright 2012 DeWitt Era-Enterprise, DeWitt, Arkansas. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: February 1, 2012

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