The Spencer Magnet’s own staff writer Jeff Sopland was named the 2022-23 Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year last week at their monthly luncheon.

The following is the nomination letter that was submitted to the chamber:

“Dear Chamber Members, for Chamber Person of the Year, I would like to nominate each of you. But knowing you would not except, I will go to my ‘back up’ nomination. Most importantly, each of your nominations is to let you know your work in the community is appreciated by one and all.

“I would like to nominate Jeff Sopland, who is recognized in this community as, ‘The Magnet Man.” When Lynette Mason retired from the local paper, our community communication almost died, but Mr. Sopland has brought it back to life.

“Mr. Sopland is the only person left in the Spencer Magnet office, and is doing the work of a previous staff of four. He once told me, ‘This job is killing me, but I am loving every minute of it.’ His work has gained much attention with the Paxton Publishing Group, and I feel they are concerned that they will eventually lose him. But, in past communication with him, he noted he loves the community, and its people. Yes, he feels this is his home, and I see him (as each of you) building a positive future for all citizens of Spencer.

“In talking with his mom, she noted that ‘he had two jobs: one was with Paxton, and the other was with Spencer County, but he only got paid for one.’ No matter the day, or the time of the day, you will catch Mr. Sopland with camera, pen and paper in hand.

“Recently, Mr. Sopland had noted that with the new leadership of the city and county, he was going to talk with the judge and mayor about bringing all organizations to the table on a bi-monthly schedule to unite the work of all that serve the populous of the community.”

When Sopland accepted the award at the extension office, he was at a loss for words. “I don’t really know what to say. Thank you so much. I see it as just doing my job well,” he said after posing for photos, then would continue to cover the rest of the event.

Sopland was hired for the Magnet as a part-time Graphic Designer in August of 2013, and would end up being the winner of 92 Kentucky Press Association Design Awards over a four-year period, including First Place Overall Best Weekly Publication three years in a row. He would move to full-time by taking over other duties such as obits, and other news-related tasks.

In August of 2021, after the acquisition by Paxton Media Group, Sopland would take over as staff writer, taking the helm of the local paper, with support from publisher Tom Barr in Shepherdsville.

He would take over all local reporter duties, along with all department management responsibilities, include customer service, covering and writing about local events, graphic design, backup graphics/reporter for Oldham Era and The Henry County Local, and you will also see him outside mowing the grass, and occasionally catch him vacuuming the office.

In his free time, Sopland donates his time to community events, such as Christmas on Main Street, The Gourd Show, and The Progressive Dinner, among others.

“I would like to thank the chamber and the community for this recognition. It is heart-warming to feel appreciated by so many,” said Sopland.

Organization of the Year

Also at the luncheon on Feb. 16, First Baptist Church Dare To Care Ministry was chosen for the 2022-23 Chamber Organization of the Year.

On hand to accept the award, and talk about the ministry as the non-profit speaker at the luncheon, was Pastor Chance McConnell, Monica Stout Cox, Robert Gilbert, and Linda Dudkovich.

The following is the nomination letter that was submitted to the chamber:

“Greetings Spencer County Organization of the Year Selection Committee:

Every day in Spencer County, there are children, families, and senior adults, who do not have enough food to eat. While it is heartbreaking and unfortunate, there is an opportunity available to provide a box of food each month to those in need from the First Baptist Church located at 115 West Main Street in Taylorsville. For the past 14 years, First Baptist has been a part of the Dare To Care Food Distribution program, which I would like to nominate for the Spencer County Organization of the Year.

“Since 2008, the First Baptist Church Dare To Care Ministry has distributed approximately 30,000 boxes of food which has helped to feed approximately 67,000 people in the 14 years.

“Many volunteers are needed during the month to prepare for distribution day. The food is ordered and picked up from the Dare to Care Warehouse in Louisville, shelved in the Dare to Care room at First Baptist and then banana boxes from Country Mart are filled with the food items received during the month. There are many guidelines, regulations, and inspections First Baptist must follow from the Dare To Care organization. In fact, First Baptist Church is so committed to this ministry that a dedicated space was built in the most recent building and renovation of the church facilities.

“On the last Thursday of each month, food boxes are distributed at the First Baptist Church between the hours of 1 to 4 p.m. For years, volunteers would haul the food box in a wagon and load in vehicles of the recipients after they stood in line and provided proof of residency. However, since COVID-19, Dare To Care relaxed some of the rules, so First Baptist provides a drive-up service.

“Pastor Chance McConnell shares, ‘The First Baptist Ministry is a true community effort. Volunteers from All Saints Catholic and Taylorsville Community Church along with others help each month. We are thankful to the members of this church and community for their generosity of food donations or financial support to purchase food each month.’

“In closing, it is an honor to nominate First Baptist Church Dare To Care Ministry for the Spencer County Organization of the Year! I trust the selection committee will give this ministry careful consideration as you select the best organization to represent Spencer County and the Chamber of Commerce.”

Cox spoke to the 50-plus attendees about the history of the ministry. Charlotte Nedros was approached 14 years ago about setting up a local Dare to Care center here in Spencer County. About a dozen people went to the Louisville Dare to Care, and were successful in their mission.

On the last Thursday of every month, a box containing between $80 and $100 in groceries are handed out to a multitude of families in the parking lot of First Baptist Church.

48% of the recipients have the head of household as a person over 60 years of age, with 60% having either grown children and/or grandchildren living in the household.

The ministry receives help/donations from several area churches and businesses such as All Saints Catholic Church, Taylorsville Community Church, Country Mart, the Spencer County Resource Center, Butchers Block, and Hunters for the Hungry.

“It is truly a community effort,” said Cox.