Keith Word named 2012 Citizen of the Year
by Eddie Burkhalter
Consolidated News Service
Jan 26, 2012 | 1536 views |  0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo: Special to The Star
Photo: Special to The Star
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The civic life of a community is a precious thing. Towns can suffer when residents no longer feel tied to one another. For that reason and many others, The Piedmont Journal chooses a resident each year that helps tie citizens together. Keith Word has been chosen as the 2012 Citizen of The Year.

A 1975 graduate of Piedmont High School, Word is the executive director of the Piedmont Housing Authority and a co-owner and funeral director of Folsom Funeral Home.

“I don’t think you could give this award to anyone more deserving,” said Piedmont Public Library director Tessa Anderson. “It would be very difficult to find anyone who works harder and loves the city more than Keith. He does an incredible job with the Housing Authority, especially with the kids there.”

Word began working at the Piedmont Housing Authority in 1989, becoming its third executive director in 1991. In 2002, he began a program to help encourage the children living in the housing authority to stay in school and to excel. That first year, only one student in the program made his school’s honor roll. By 2009, that number had grown to 10 children, and the next year to 16. Last year, 19 children made their honor rolls all year long, and, at one point during the school year, 44 made a single, nine-week honor roll.

“Keith makes sure the children of the Piedmont Housing Authority are recognized for their achievements,” said Piedmont Mayor Brian Young.

As part of their rewards, kids on the A-Team (Academic Team) have in the past received limousine rides and autographed photos of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, and they each receive a medallion engraved with their name.

“Keith Word is a great asset to the police department, to the City of Piedmont, and especially to the public housing tenants he serves,” said Piedmont Police Chief Steven Tidwell. “Keith goes above and beyond in supporting all of the entities mentioned and is well-deserving of this recognition.”

The list of awards won by the housing authority since Word became director is enormous. In August of 2009, the housing authority moved into its new 5,700-square-foot administrative offices, a building that came with no payments. Word and his staff saved for years to construct the new facility without having to apply for loans.

Without ever charging for his services, Word acts as emcee at all sorts of local events, from DAV meetings to Christmas parades to Fourth of July celebrations. Mayor Young said Word always could be counted on to lead a civic event.

Ben Singleton, communications director for the City of Piedmont, said he’s worked with Word on numerous civic events and that Word always gives his all to make each event a success.

“It is a pleasure working with Keith on all of these projects,” Singleton said. “He cares very much for Piedmont, and it shows in everything he does.”

Due to health problems, Word was unable last year to organize many of the events. The Piedmont Ministerial Association took up the cause, and, along with Singleton and the Piedmont Parks and Recreation Department, the association helped organize last year’s Downtown Halloween Trick or Treat and Annual Piedmont Christmas Parade.

“You could call on him day or night,” said Folsom Funeral Home’s Brian Folsom about Word. “He’s always had an open heart and been willing to do anything he could for the city or for anybody.

“That’s Keith in a nutshell, dedication and a willing heart.”
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Keith Word named 2012 Citizen of the Year by Eddie Burkhalter
Consolidated News Service

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