By Elizabeth Varville, Correspondent
The City of Belton’s yearning for community unity and inner growth is permanently embedded in everlasting traditions. In the 1960’s, the Belton Chamber of Commerce’s tradition of awarding the Citizen of the Year and the Beltonian of the Year to residents of Belton began. Both awards are considered a distinguished recognition in the Belton community and earned through much dedication to the community by volunteering personal time and services.
Citizen of the Year Award recipients are chosen by the outgoing BCOC Board of Directors of the current year. The citizen supports the BCOC in many ways from participating in area events to significant volunteer contributions to the community during the past year. Past Citizen of the Year awardees have been Joe Baisden in 1991 and Jay Taggart in 2001.
“Winning Citizen of the Year is such an honor and humbling experience. I work with a great group of volunteers and the best Chamber (BCOC) staff which allows me the opportunity to give back to the community that I love. I am truly blessed to be a part of such an amazing organization.” said 2015 Citizen of the Year and President & CEO of Key Power Solutions Keith Leija.
Born and raised in Central Texas, Leija has contributed to the Belton community in a variety of ways. He currently serves on the BCOC Executive Board of Directors and is the president-elect for the Belton Rotary Club. He is the Director Consultant of the Central Texas region for Business Networking International (BNI); Killeen chapter for six years. Plus, he is the chairman for the 4th of July festivities at Yettie Polk Park.
“I try to stay as active with the community as possible. Making connections with the Chamber (BCOC) enabled me to start my business,” said Leija.
Nominated by the public, the Beltonian Award is voted on by the BCOC Board of Directors. The recipient is recognized for going above and beyond for the Belton community. This includes volunteering their time relating to education, sports, or civic organizations. Past awardees of the Beltonian Award have been Joe Pirtle in 1978 and Dwayne Digby in 2005.
“I am humbled and honored to be selected for the Beltonian Award. To be included with the group of past recipients is something I will cherish all of my days. A great community is built on the selfless contributions of many people,” said 2015 Beltonian Andrew Crowson, D.D.S.
As a BCOC member, Dr. Crowson serves as the Master of Ceremonies for the BCOC annual awards banquet. He served as the president of the Belton Economic Development Corporation and the Belton Lions Club; voted twice for Lion of the Year. He devotes many volunteer hours to helping students of the Belton Independent School District.
“It is very rewarding to be recognized for whatever small part I have played in Belton’s elevation to the preeminent town in Central Texas. Thank you to the Chamber (BCOC) for this award,” said Crowson.