A local journalist who has spent more than 50 years dedicated to educating her community through the written word will be among those honored during tonight's annual Kentucky Lake Chamber of Commerce dinner.

Kentucky Lake Chamber of Commerce Executive Administrator Debbie Buchanan said the chamber selected Bobbie Foust for the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her ongoing service as a local journalist, dedicated to telling the stories of western Kentucky.

Foust said her "love of the written word" is what fueled her more than 52-year career in journalism. While acknowledging some of the issues she's tackled have been sad and emotionally draining, she said journalism also nurtured her love of learning and provided the opportunity for greater education and meeting a wide range of interesting people, including politicians and celebrities.

"I've met every [Kentucky] governor since Wendell Ford except the last one [Gov. Matt Bevin], Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul many times, and I covered Glenn Poshard's campaign for governor of Illinois. I also covered three visits of President Bill Clinton to Kentucky and Illinois, interviewed Rev. Jesse Jackson, television personalities Phil Donahue, Dr. Joyce Brothers, "Real People's" Sarah Purcell, Sharpe, Kentucky's own Tom Rickman and numerous sports greats including members of a Russian Olympic basketball team," she recalled. "The most fun was interviewing Rickman many times, and the career of our own Howard Beth at the height of his coaching career as his Lady Marshals won the 1982 and 1984 state high school basketball championships."

Foust also recalled covering numerous tragedies including the Heath High School shooting of 1997; the "horrific" 1993 car wreck that killed seven Trigg County high school boys and the aftermath; two executions at Kentucky State Penitentiary; the death-penalty trial of a man who killed three Trigg County children--he raped and tried to kill their mother then set their home on fire with their bodies inside; the trial of a man who beat a pregnant mare to death with a hammer.

"There were countless others, good and bad, and I'm thankful for the compassion, empathy, understanding and strength I gained from each," she said. "I deeply appreciate the chamber's recognition and the honor its members have given me. It was a great surprise, and I'm grateful and humbled."

"Despite today's 'social media' outlets, I have no doubt newspapers are, and will remain, the best, most fair and most accurate source of information, and the only accurate source of information about local government and courts," she added.

Buchanan said the chamber named Dr. Joe Ellis Citizen of the Year in recognition of his service to the Marshall County community. In addition to working full time as an optometrist with the Eye Care Associates of Kentucky in Benton, Ellis also serves as chairman of the Marshall County Board of Health (which oversees the Marshall County Health Department) and is affiliated with a number of other community-based organizations such as the Lions Club of Benton.

"The chamber felt that all of his involvement in this community and for this community outside of what he does for his patients makes him an outstanding example of someone going above and beyond as a citizen in their community," she said.

Ellis said, "I was truly honored and humbled by this recognition as citizen of the year by the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce. When I thought back to recall previous people who have received this honor, I am truly blessed to be part of this community."

New to the lineup of awards is this year's Young Professional of the Year, which was awarded to Dallas Jo Young, who was selected for the award by the Young Professionals group affiliated with the chamber.

Treston Smith of the Young Professionals group said, "Dallas has selflessly given her time and energy into making sure the club not only survives but does great things for our community and local charities. Dallas definitely has a servant's heart in all that she does."

Young said, "I am absolutely honored to be named the Young Professional of the Year. I love having the opportunity to network and meet with fellow young professionals in our community each month and I can't wait to see how our program grows in 2020. We are building a base to let the future workforce know that there is opportunity here in Marshall County and that it's okay to come home to the community where you were raised to have a career and raise your family, too."

Buchanan said the chamber named J&R Pharmacy Business of the Year in honor of its more than six decades serving the Marshall County community. The business celebrated its 65th year in business in Aug. 2019 and announced expansion to Draffenville into a building which will also house other businesses.

"We truly appreciate their loyalty to this community and to their customers, as well as their continued investment in Marshall County," she said.

Blake Wiseman, PharmD, pharmacist and grandson of founder/owner Jim Wiseman RPh., said J&R Pharmacy is proud and honored to be recognized as Marshall County's Business of the Year and felt the people who made that recognition possible should be acknowledged as well.

"First, we would like to acknowledge that this award would not be possible without the support of our loyal and wonderful customers and we want to thank the community who has allowed us to take care of them and be part of their lives for the past 65 years," he said. "We also extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to all our co-workers who are more than team members -- they are integral parts of our family business. Our family commits to continue providing the community with excellent customer service and continually looking for new and better ways to serve."

Benton Wood Products, a relatively newcomer to Marshall County's industry, was named Industry of the Year. Buchanan said the chamber wanted to recognize the stave mill for providing a great product, needed jobs for our citizens and their contribution to the local economy.

Justin Nichols, plant manager of Benton Wood Products, said, "We are honored to receive this award. I want to thank the Kentucky Lake Chamber of Commerce for recognizing the positive impact Benton Wood Products has made in the community. I also want to thank the City of Benton, Marshall County and the West Kentucky Workforce Board for all their support in helping make the past two years a success."

The Big Band Business & Brass dinner is this evening at the Lakeland Event Center located at 4900 US Hwy. 62 in Calvert City.

The doors will open at 5 p.m. and dinner will be served at 5:45 p.m.

For more information call 270-527-7665 or email chamber@marshallcounty.net.