Fit for a King

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 12, 2005

Local resident and conservationist Barnett King was honored as the Chamber of Commerce's 2004 Citizen of the Year on Tuesday night at the Crenshaw County Recreation Club.

Jack Davis, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and presenter of the award, said Barnett had a 'servant's heart.'

"In 1976 I came to this area and the first person to make me feel at home was Mr. Barnett King," said Davis. "And I'm sure Barnett will tell you that his wife, Edna, is his right hand partner in everything he's accomplished."

King did just that.

"I'm glad, but I don't like the word 'I.' I don't even like to use it in the Lord's Prayer," said King upon receiving the award from Davis. "There's a lot of people who had a hand in this. I have supportive wife and family, for one."

King referred to the back of the awards program brochure, which listed his experience and numerous awards and citations.

"There's several things on this list I can't take credit for because so many people had a hand in helping me," he said.

Davis said the 'crown jewel' for King would be his development of a nature trail on his property for children and adults to use.

"In 1996, Barnett wanted a nature trail to give kids some hands-on experience with forestry and wildlife," Davis said. "So he went in and set it up for school children because was concerned about our kids. Now there have been over 2,000 people to visit that nature trail, including state senators and representatives."

Each year seems to bring a new highlight for King.

He was Forest Conservationist of the Year in 2002 and the National Arbor Day Foundation named King with its Good Steward Award in 2003.

King was Alabama Tree Farmer of the Year in 1999 and Southern Region Tree Farmer of the Year in 2000. He capped both of those honors off in 2001, by being named National Tree Farmer of the Year.

"The world has been so good and given so much to me," he said. "We'll continue and try and deserve some of the good things you've said about us."

He also elicited laughter from those in attendance with a matter-of-fact statement:

"If you look back on your life and haven't left anything good behind than the world would have been better off without you," he said.

Alabama State Auditor Beth Chapman, a native of Greenville, was the guest speaker. Chapman, a strong supporter of the armed forces, said from looking at King's long list of accomplishments there was one that would gain her immediate respect.

"The fact that you gave your time and served in the United States Army is all you would have to tell me," she said to King, who was in the army from 1952-54 and retired from the Alabama National Guard in 1982.

King is the 17th person to be honored since the Citizen of the Year award was began in 1988.