County names ag building for Wheeler

Published 11:51 am Tuesday, August 14, 2012

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS Russell Smith and Frank Loeffler applaud as Tommy Wheeler, left, and Claire Wheeler, are presented a plaque by County Chairman Charles T. Stafford. The county’s new agriculture building will be named for Wheeler, a longtime county extension agent.

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners announced Tuesday that the county’s new agriculture building will be named after Tommy Wheeler, a longtime county extension agent and high-school agriculture teacher.

Wheeler was a high-school agriculture teacher from 1953 to 1960, and then served as the county’s assistant county extension agent for four years. He later served as the head county extension agent for 18 more years.

“These two young people have represented themselves and Decatur County in agriculture and education in a tremendous manner throughout their lives,” said County Administrator Gary Breedlove, as he recognized Wheeler and his wife, Claire Wheeler. “It’s a deserved recognition that we place their name on our new agriculture building. Congratulations.”

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Breedlove said the official name of the building, which is located on Ag Lane off Reynolds Street, will be the “Tommy E. Wheeler Agriculture Building.” New building signs have been ordered and will be installed at a later date.

Wheeler said he was truly humbled by the honor.

“I’ve heard the old slogan that you have to labor in the field, before you reap the harvest,” he said. “This is reaping the harvest, as far as I’m concerned.

“I love Decatur County, and I loved my job. I couldn’t wait to get up in the mornings and go to work every day.”

Two county commissioners, Dr. David C. “Butch” Mosely and Russell Smith, were students of Wheeler’s.

“You’ve always exemplified what a man ought to be about,” Mosely said. “I’m proud this happened for you and your family, and I’m proud to have had the opportunity to have known you for a long time.”

Wheeler expressed his appreciation to his wife; Bert Stein, who served as a soil conservationist in Wheeler’s office; a longtime friend Gary Brinson; and Woodrow Long, who was the county chairman when Wheeler began working as the county’s extension agent.

“He’s the person that really put me here in that position,” Wheeler said, of Long. “I still owe him and his family.”

In other presentations, the board:

• Recognized Troy McQuiston, an employee of the county’s public works department.

Breedlove explained that McQuiston was working on a project on Dell Road, on Aug. 1, when he found an elderly woman collapsed in a ditch. McQuiston administered first aid and also notified one of her friends to come pick her up, waiting with her until the friend arrived.

“His bravery and selfless service brings credit to himself, the public works department, and Decatur County,” said Breedlove.

Public Works Director Dennis Medley and County Board Chairman Dr. Charles T. Stafford presented McQuiston with a certificate of appreciation.

• Recognized Capt. Liz Croley of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office, who was named the state’s deputy of the year on July 17.

County Sheriff Wiley Griffin and Stafford presented Croley with a resolution in her honor. Griffin noted that more than 10,000 deputy sheriffs state-wide were eligible for the award that only Croley received.