Keene Chamber of Commerce  
US Department of Education Awards $483,900 Title V Grant to SWAU
October 07, 2020

Southwestern Adventist University has been awarded a Title V grant by the US Department of Education’s Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program.

Over the next five years, SWAU will receive about $500,000 each year, for a total of just over $2.5 million, which will be used to improve student outcomes through “Pathways to Student Success.” SWAU is one of half a dozen schools in the DFW area to be selected as a recipient of this competitive grant. 

“In Texas, more than one in three individuals identify as Hispanic, and I am proud to support Hispanic-Serving Institutions and their contributions to our state’s growing Hispanic community,” said Senator John Cornyn (TX-R).  “Quality education and diverse environments benefit everyone, and especially during these tough times I applaud Dallas - Fort Worth area schools for their work to secure these grants to better serve their students.”

The university is proud to be a Hispanic Serving Institution, with 48 percent of the student body being of a Hispanic or Latino background. The initiatives made possible through the funds from this grant will benefit not only its Hispanic population but the entire student body as well. 

Thanks to “Pathways to Student Success”, the Office of Student Success has been created to serve as a space where students can seek guidance and learn skills that will prepare them for life after college. This office will collaborate with the Center for Academic Success and Advising, also known as CASA, as they oversee the grant’s four elements: first-year experience, academic and career guidance, and internships. 

"As a result of receiving this grant and implementing these four components, the goal is simple: improve the lives of students by providing wrap-around services that complement their eduaction, encourage retention and increase graduation rates, said Dr. Ken Shaw, SWAU president. "We are most grateful for theses funds and what they will mean to our current and future students."

With funding going into effect Oct. 1, the Office of Student Success has been formed and a leadership team is in place. Furthermore, an oversight committee will be formed to support this office and its efforts to improve student success. 

Ribbon cutting ceremony held at Keene Dental
September 01, 2020

Keene Dental is the newest member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

A membership plaque was presented to Dr. Mona Agarwal at the Aug. 27 luncheon, after which a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the new office, 115 S. Old Betsy Road next to Dollar General.

Keene Dental (817-645-0053) has a modern office where medicaid and CHIP is accepted. 

In the photo below, Dr. Rohit Narayan cuts the ribbon while staff associates look on. Holding the ribbon are Paul Gnadt, left, and Dean Waterman of the Keene Chamber. 

Keene parade and fireworks ARE CANCELED
July 01, 2020

The 31st annual Keene Independence Day Parade, originally scheduled for 8 p.m. Sunday, July 5, followed by a fireworks show, ARE CANCELED.  

The decision to cancel was made because of concern for public safety during COVID-19. 

Thank you for understanding that the health and well being of you and your loved ones leads any parade of concerns.

We look forward to the 25th annual Keene Christmas Light Parade & Fireworks Show at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6. 

Happy 27th Birthday to Keene Chamber of Commerce
July 01, 2020

Happy 27th Birthday Keene Chamber of Commerce.

On July 1, 1993, 24 people met at Keene Diner to discuss forming a chamber of commerce, according to the minutes from the Keene chamber archives.

The group decided to extend charter membership in the chamber to all individuals and businesses who applied through September 1993. Dr. Brady Rusk and Bob Mendenhall, acting on behalf of radio station KJCR, were the first to apply for membership.

Besides Mendenhall and Rusk, other in attendance at that historic meeting were: the late Ivan Allen, Duane Barnes, Peter Bennis, Rebecca Bolinger, Giner Dickens, the late Eveline Gilley, Janet Goodman, Angie Hadley, Barbara Hainey, Betty Harrell, James Moody, Larry Moore, Tony Muse, Ray Nichols, Yddo Ortiz, Martin Read, Jenell Rusk, the late V.O. Schneider, Cathy Smith, Wanda Smith, the late Dolly Spells-Chastain and Carolyn Jo Wear.

On July 7, 1993, the chamber organizers met again and set membership fees at $25 (for individual, couple or business with 1-5 employees), $50 for businesses with 6-12 employees, and $100 for businesses with 13 or more employees.

According to the chamber minutes, the membership decided that the first board would service the remainder of 1993 and all of 1994. Elected to the first chamber board were: Peter Bennis, Brenda Denison, Bob Mendenhall, Susan Meyer, Brady Rusk, Randy Scoggins, Wanda Smith, Eldon Spady, and Carolyn Jo Wear.

That board chose its offers and elected Bennis as president, Rusk as president-elect, and Denison as treasurer.

By Aug. 12, 1993, according to the minutes, the chamber had 13 paid members. That grew to 19 two weeks later, and on Sept. 9, when the Keene City Council voted to allot $1,000. Tp the chamber, membership was 27. By the end of September, a total of 26 businesses and three individuals had joined and qualified as charter members.

The 29 charter members of the Keene Chamber of Commerce are:

Bennett Printing & Office Supply

Peter Bennis

Brandom Manufacturing

Campus Diner

Community Living Concepts, Inc.

DW Services

Dolly’s Beauty Salon

Exodus Products

First State Bank (now Pinnacle Bank)

General Insurance Service

Glass Expressions

Hardee Irrigation and Landscape

Huguley Memorial Medical Center (now Texas Health Huguley)

JLB Consulting

Johnson County Electric Co-op (now United Co-operative Services)

City of Keene

Keene Pharmacy

Keene Star

Keene Travel

Ladies Body Works

Milner TV

Mohr’s Construction

Odyssey Harbor

Brady Rusk, D.D.S. (now Mertz Family Dentistry)

Don Smith

Wanda Smith

Southwestern Adventist University

TXU (now TU Electric)

Tomblinson Real Estate (now Zacharias Real Estate)

Type B board purchases meals for all staff at Town Hall Estates
June 30, 2020

The Economic Business Development Corp., known as the Type B board, purchased 110 gift cards from local eateries for each employee at Town Hall Estates.

The gesture was in recognition of how quickly Town Hall reacted to the challenges of COVID-19.

“Town Hall Estates Nursing and Rehabilitation facility took immediate action before COVID-19 became wide spread by closing down the facility and using strict preventative measures," said Molly Martin, Keene's economic development director. "They have had zero cases and we are very proud of how Town Hall Administrator Jason Fautheree and staff handled this situation. The Economic Business Board wanted to show Town Hall Estates how much they are appreciated and thank them for all their hard work”.  

The gift cards were purchased from Dominos Pizza, Keene City Station Cafe, Los Juanitos Mexican Restaurant, Mr Jim's Pizza, Owlsome Nutrition Smoothie Cafe, Sonic Drive-In and Subway. 

Members of the Type B board are: President, Dr. Ricky Stephens, and board members  Donnie Beeson Jr, Nick Chesney, Aaron Moses, Cheryl Schram, and Russ Zeigler.

In the photo below, Molly Martin, fourth from right, presents the gift cards to Jason Fautheree, fourth from left, and the Town Hall administrative team.

Town Hall Estates is a longtime member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.


Owlsome Nutrition joins Keene chamber
May 27, 2020

The newest member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce will shake up your taste buds.

Owlsome Nutrition serves healthful shakes and energized teas at 312 S. Old Betsy Road in Legacy Plaza. It's immediately north of Zimmerman's Paint & Supply.

Owned and operated by New Orleans native Jannell Rose (in the photo below), the shakes and teas are available in a variety of flavors.

Owlsome Nutrition — 214-586-0382 — is open from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday thru Friday, and 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday. It is closed Sunday.

Start your day out owlsome at Owlsome Nutrition.

Forever Grateful!
May 25, 2020

Watch Keene's Memorial Day service on Facebook
May 24, 2020

The 2020 Memorial Day Ceremony in Keene has been canceled, but you can watch the 2018 ceremony on the city's Facebook page at City of Keene Texas.

The service of two years ago features U.S. Congressman Roger Williams. It begins with three and one-half minutes of personnel from Pinnacle Bank setting out the 366 U.S. flags along Old Betsy Road. 

Although this year's ceremony cannot take place because of COVID-19, Keene will continue to honor and show our thanks to the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Gillin Realty and A&B Electrical Service make generous donations to U.S. flag program
May 22, 2020

Two owners of local businesses deserve a salute.

Samantha Gillin, owner of Gillin Realty, and David Bass, owner of A&B Electrical Service, have combined to generously donate $750 to keep the flags flying along Old Betsy Road. 

Recently, when the flags were displayed 24/7 for six consecutive weeks to boost morale at the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, about 40 flags were damaged and needed to be replaced.

The lengthy display was above and beyond the usual four-day presentation but received a positive response throughout the county.  

In 1995, longtime Keene resident and business owner Brady Rusk began placing U.S. flags along Old Betsy Road on holidays and special occasions. Using his own funds, he purchased, installed and stored about 20 flags.

Now, 25 years later, the flag program, known as Old Glory for Old Betsy, has grown to 366 flags and is operated by the Keene Chamber of Commerce and managed by Yddo Ortiz, another longtime resident and business owner.

More than 215 people, mostly Keene residents, have purchased a flag or multiple flags in honor or memory of a loved one or friend. 

The flag installation process is a large undertaking, with Keene Police officers controlling traffic while representatives of various Keene businesses or educational institutions install the flags. 

The flags are placed inside a burried sleeve positioned along Old Betsy Road. The flags are removed by personnel from Keene Public Works Department.

The flags are displayed a couple of days before and after Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Flag Day, Presidents’ Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Sept. 11, Dec. 7, and special events such as Ride 2 Recovery, dignitary visits and special occasions by request.

The Keene Chamber of Commerce is responsible for raising money to maintain the flags, storing and protecting them, maintaining the sleeves, insuring and licensing the flag trailers, and organizing the installation ceremonies.

A flag costs $75, which includes flag, pole and installation sleeve.

To purchase a flag or donate to the Old Glory for Old Betsy program, contact the Keene Chamber of Commerce office at 817-556-2995 or Yddo Ortiz at 817-517-4650.

In the photos below are Samantha Gillin and David Bass.


Lola's Cafe & Pizza donates 10 pizzas to essential workers at Pinnacle Bank
May 17, 2020

Lola's Cafe & Pizza deposited some good will May 15 with the delivery of 10 pizzas to the Keene branch of Pinnacle Bank just in time for its 23 essential workers to enjoy lunch.

The donation continues the purchase of meals for Keene's essential employees via gift cards or certificates valued at $15 for meals at Keene City Station, Mr Jim's Pizza, Los Juanitos Mexican Restaurant, Sonic Drive-In and Lola's Cafe & Pizza. Most of the meals have been purchased by anonymous donors, however Lola's owner Gazmend Emini wanted to publicly thank the anonymous donor who purchased 38 meals at Lola's for Keene ISD cafeteria workers. He selected Pinnacle employees as the next recipients.

Previously, donated meals have been distributed to each member of the Keene Police Department, Keene Fire Rescue Department, Public Works Department, Keene Municipal Complex personnel, United States Postal Service, Hopps Automotive, Keene Pharmacy, Wash Depot and Keene ISD cafeteria workers, all essential workers who have remained on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lola's Cafe & Pizza, located at 3601 E Hwy. 67, is a member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

The Keene branch of Pinnacle Bank, located at 309 S. Old Betsy Road, is a charter member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

If you wish to sponsor meals for Keene's essential workers, contact the Keene Chamber of Commerce at 817-556-2995. You will, if desired, remain anonymous. 

In the photo below, Pinnacle Keene Branch President Ryan Fromme, left, accepts boxes of pizzas and other goodies from Lola's Cafe & Pizza manager Ana Dracy. 

May 28 luncheon canceled
May 15, 2020

The Thursday, May 28, Keene Chamber of Commerce Luncheon IS CANCELED

While we were looking forward to the message of our guest, the Weather Team from KTVT CBS Channel 11, the safety of our attendees is more important as we all deal with the challenges and ramifications of COVID-19.

As you know, many of our attendees are age 65 and older, and it is unfair to them to hold the program when attending would put them at risk.

The idea of "social distancing" would permit only one or two attendees per table, and that is unfair to the Channel 11 Weather Team, who present an entertaining and informative program.

We will reschedule the Channel 11 Weather Team and advise you of that date.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Stay safe. 


New roof at Mertz Family Dentistry
May 13, 2020

Mertz Family Dentistry is getting a new crown.

Roofers started early May 13 to install a new roof on the Mertz Family Dentistry building at 104 S Old Betsy Road in Keene.

The roof is the final touch of exterior improvements to the property that include a taupe-color paint with black doors, repainting white columns, new planters, a decorative bench and new identification sign.

Dan Mertz, DDS, purchased the dental practice of Dr. Brady Rusk in 2015. 

Mertz Family Dentistry is a member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

Anonymous donor purchases meals for Keene ISD cafeteria workers
May 08, 2020

The parade of anonymous donors purchasing meals at Keene restaurants for Keene's essential workers continues.

On May 7, a donor purchased 38 gift certificates valued at $15 each at Lola's Cafe & Pizza for distribution to the cafeteria staff at Keene ISD.

The KISD cafeteria workers and assistants have been preparing 3,000 meals per week for distribution to KISD student households. The breakfasts and lunches are distributed three days per week via the district's wrapped blue school bus. Distribution on Tuesday and Thursday includes meals for two days. 

The meals are prepared by 20 cafeteria staff then packed and distributed by a rotation crew of 18.

The donation continues the anonymous purchase of certificates or gift cards for meals at Keene City Station, Mr Jim's Pizza, Los Juanitos Mexican Food and Sonic Drive-In that have been distributed to each member of the Keene Police Department, Keene Fire Rescue Department, Public Works Department, Keene Municipal Complex personnel, United States Postal Service, Hopps Automotive, Keene Pharmacy and Wash Depot, all essential workers who have remained on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lola's Cafe & Pizza, located at 3601 E Hwy. 67, is a member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

If you wish to sponsor meals for Keene's essential workers, contact the Keene Chamber of Commerce at 817-556-2995. You will, if desired, remain anonymous. 

In the photo below, Lola's Cafe & Pizza owner Gazmend Emini, left, presents the 38 gift certificates to Keene ISD Supt. Dr. Ricky Stephens. 

Anonymous donor provides meals for four essential businesses in Keene
May 01, 2020

An anonymous donor has provided meals at Sonic Drive-In and Los Juanitos #3 Mexican Food for employees of essential businesses in Keene who have worked through the COVID 19 pandemic.

The donor arranged for give certificates valued at $15 each to be distributed to each employee at the Keene office of the United States Postal Service, Hopps Automotive, Keene Pharmacy and Wash Depot.

Each has remained open during the health crisis to provide service to Keene residents.

Earlier, anonymous donors provided meals at City Station Cafe for each member of the Keene Fire Resuce and Keene Police departments and Mr Jim's Pizza gift certificates for members of the city's public works department and city staff.

In the top photo below, Danielle Weger, manager of Keene Sonic Drive-In, displays some of the gift cards. In the bottom photo, Los Juanitos #3 owner Aaron Lopez, left, and his son, Axel, stand in front of their restaurant.

Sonic Drive-In and Los Juanitos 3# are members of the Keene Chamber off Commerce. 


Anonymous donor provides meals for Keene public works department and city staff
April 29, 2020

An anonymous donor has provided 21 meals at Mr Jim's Pizza for all Keene Public Works Department personnel and city staff who office at the Keene Municipal Complex. 

The donor arranged for give certificates valued at $15 each to be distributed to each member of public works and city personnel.

Last week, another anonymous donor provided meals at City Station Cafe for each member of the Keene Fire Resuce and Keene Police departments.

In the photo below are, from left, Mr Jim's co-owner Suzanne Stricklin, Keene Economic Development Director Molly Martin and City Manager Mike Boese. They are holding the gift certificates.

Suzanne Stricklin co owns Mr Jim's along with her husband, Clark. Mr Jim's is a member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce. 

Anonymous donor provides meals for Keene fire and police
April 27, 2020

An anonymous donor has provided 31 meals at Keene City Station for all Keene Fire Rescue and Keene Police Department personnel. 

The donor arranged for 31 give cards valued at $15 each to be distributed to each member of the police and fire departments.

City Station Cafe is a member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

In the photo below are, from left, Keene Police Officer Sean Amos, Keene City Station co-owner Dean Waterman, and Keene Fire Chief Dan Warner. Amos and Warner are holding the gift cards.

Huguley Hospital begins COVID-19 testing
April 14, 2020

Texas Health Huguley Hospital will begin offering drive-thru COVID-19 testing on Tuesday, April 14. 

Testing Criteria (Not all patients screened will meet testing criteria):Patient must have one of the following symptoms: cough, fever, shortness of breath and/or diarrhea
• Healthcare provider, law enforcement or EMS who have been exposed or have symptoms
• Have had close contact with a suspected or positive case of COVID-19
• Screened patients must be 2 years of age or older

Step 1: ScreeningTo be screened and schedule an appointment, call 817-568-5428 between 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday – Friday

• Drive-thru testing appointments will be scheduled between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday – Friday

Step 2: Preparing For Your Test

• If you meet the criteria for testing, please provide your primary care physician’s name.If you have an HMA physician, we can provide an order
• If you do not have an HMA physician, you will need to contact your primary care physician for an order
• If you do not have a physician, we have a physician who will provide you with an order for the COVID-19 test

Once you have completed these steps an appointment time will be provided to you for testing. Patients that are scheduled for testing will be asked to provide their insurance card, if applicable, and photo ID.
Please remember that this is only a COVID-19 collection site, no other healthcare will be provided.

Testing will take place at 11801 S Fwy, Fort Worth, TX between the Fitness Center and Medical Office Building 5 (Surgery Center). Please enter through Huguley Blvd. from South Freeway (I-35 Access Road) 

Important: Please call 817-568-5428 to schedule an appointment prior to arrival.

Texas Health Huguley Hospital is a charter member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

Quickway Food Store has new gas pumps
April 13, 2020

Pay at the pump is back in Keene.

Adam Quickway Food Stores, operating as a Valero gas station at 104 FM 2280, has installed two new gasoline pumps. Each pump has two gasoline dispensing devices.

The store is at the south end of Old Betsy Road where it meets U.S. Hwy. 67 Business.

The pumps cost $24,000 each, according to owner Imran "Jimmy" Qurashi, who purchased the store in 2013. It is named after his son, Adam.

The pumps are open 24/7 and have multiple payment options when the store is closed, including credit card, debit card and Apple Pay, Qurashi said.

Adam Quickway Food Store is a member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

How CARES Act affects small businesses
March 30, 2020

The following was sent to the Keene Chamber of Commerce by Don Nicholas, field representative for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams:


See Below for Frequently Asked Questions by Small Businesses That Have Been Impacted By The Coronavirus and Helpful Answers

Is your small business struggling due to the recent coronavirus epidemic?

-  Your business may be eligible for a new Paycheck Protection Loan.
-  This 4% interest rate loan is 100% guaranteed by the SBA.

Who is eligible?
- Businesses and 501(c)(3)s with less than 500 employees.Where can you get this loan?

-  Any existing SBA lenders and any lenders that are brought into the program through the Treasury.
-  You should talk to your preferred financial lender to see if they qualify.What can you use the loan amount for?

-  Payroll costs
-  Group health care benefits
-  Employee salaries
-  Interest on ay mortgage obligation
-  Rent
-  Utilities
-  And any other debt obligations occurred before Feb. 15, 2020.

How much can you borrow?
- The maximum amount is the lesser of $10 million or 2.5 times the average monthly payroll based on last year’s payroll.

How long will it take to receive the money?

- The SBA has authorized lenders to process, close, and service loans without SBA approval, giving you the means to invest in your business immediately.

What if you can’t pay it back?

-  First, all payment on principle, interest, and fees will be automatically deferred for six months.
-  Second, for businesses that retain their staff up until June 30, 2020, this loan will be forgiven.

Can the entire loan be forgiven?
-  No, only the portion of the loan used to cover payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities can be forgiven.
-  In addition, only 8 weeks can be forgiven.Other useful resources:

-  Full text of the final bill
-  Section-by-section summary of the bill

IRS announces sweeping changes
March 26, 2020

To help people facing the challenges of COVID-19 issues, the IRS announced today a sweeping series of steps to assist taxpayers by providing relief on a variety of issues ranging from easing payment guidelines to postponing compliance actions.  Please share this with your members, staff, clients, colleagues and anyone who may benefit from this information.

Due to the #COVID19 outbreak, #IRS is postponing payments related to Installment Agreements and Offers in Compromise and limiting other enforcement actions. See

#IRS will temporarily suspend many collections and enforcement activities as soon as possible. See details at:

In addition to extending tax deadlines and working on two new tax credits, #IRS will temporarily suspend many collections and enforcement activities. See

#IRS is easing the burden on people facing tax issues. In addition to extending tax deadlines and working on two new tax credits, we’ll temporarily suspend many collections and enforcement activities.

#IRS is taking several steps to assist taxpayers in various stages of the Offers in Compromise process. See

A new #IRS People First Initiative provides immediate relief to help people facing uncertainty over taxes. See details at:

Alicia Allen, Tax Specialist, Internal Revenue Service, Communications and Liaison

Phone:  469-801-1539

E-mail:  vog.sri@nella.d.aicila

March 26 luncheon canceled
March 08, 2020

The Thursday, March 26, Keene Chamber of Commerce Luncheon IS CANCELED

While we were looking forward to the message of our guest, Robert Borelli, and the mouth-watering meal from Massey's BBQ, the safety of our attendees is more important as we all deal with the challenges and ramifications of the coronavirus.

As you know, many of our attendees are age 65 and older, and it is unfair to them to hold the program when attending would put them at risk.

The idea of "social distancing" would permit only one or two attendees per table, and that is unfair to Mr. Borelli, who has a message for all to hear.

We will reschedule Mr. Borelli and advise you of that date.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

James Winegardner and Keene Church staff team named Citizen of the Year
October 27, 2019

A local pastor, a longtime postal worker, a fire chief and a police chief were among those honored at the 26th annual Keene Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet Oct. 24 at the Keene Community Center.

The event that recognizes local businesses and educators was attended by 296 people who enjoyed a meal prepared by Southwestern Adventist University food service director Chef Sualua Tupolo and a non-stop routine of laughter presented by Christian comedian Dr. Dennis Swanberg.

Keene Adventist Church Senior Pastor James Winegardner and the administrative staff team at the Keene Church were honored at Citizen of the Year.

Other honorees included: 

• Community Improvement Award: Keene Adventist Elementary School

• Community Service Award: Keene Police Chief Emmitt Jackson and Keene Fire Chief Dan Warner

• Educator of the Year Awards:

• Pioneer Award: June Hollis

• Young Entrepreneur Award: Matt Gillin

• Phillip Sparks Helping Hands Award: Judy Miles

The Citizen of the Year Award recognizes an individual who has been a model citizen and given dedicated and extensive service to individuals, organizations and the community on a continued basis.

The 3,000-member Keene Adventist Church operates the Keene Community Food Bank, Kids Eat Free backpack program with Keene ISD, a clothing outlet for needy families, a senior exercise class, a program that provides transportation anywhere within 10 miles of Keene for those who need to be transported to a doctors visit or grocery store, family campouts, countless Bible studies, water giveaways in needy areas, all organized by volunteers and attended by hundreds who have a new positive, can-do, outlook.

The Community Improvement Award honors businesses for contributing to the beautification of the city through new buildings and/or well-manicured grounds and landscaping, thus presenting a positive image and improving the quality of life in Keene.

KAES was honored for transforming itself from a 1980s rundown to a beautiful and up-to-date campus with actual grass on the front lawn, new exterior paint job, and a complete overhaul of the interiors of two buildings, with a new much-needed gymnasium on the way.

KAES Principal Todd Coulter accepted the award.

The Community Service Award is given to an individual and/or organization who has given extensive and continued service to the community.

Jackson and Warner were recognized for being actively involved in myriad community activities while leading organizations of first responders that keep residents safe. 

The Educator of the Year Award honors one who demonstrates excellence in the classroom and goes the extra mile by being involved in the lives of students outside the classroom. This award is selected by campus educators and administrators. One educator from the each of the four public schools and one from the each of the four private schools are honored each year. 

The award is accompanied by a cash honorarium of $100 and tonight these honorariums. The awards, presented for the public schools by Keene ISD Supt. Ricky Stephens, for KAES by Principal Todd Coulter, for Chisholm Trail Academy by Principal Tommy Simons and for SWAU by Vice President for Spiritual Development Russ Laughlin were:

Keene ISD Alternative School — Wallace Sullivan

Keene High School — Tommy Kennedy

Keene Junior High School — Caitlyn Fellers

Keene Elementary School — Mari Maldonado 

Keene Adventist Elementary School — Josh Samaniego

Keene Adventist Junior High School — Cheryl Blackburn

Chisholm Trail Academy is Debera Hall

Southwestern Adventist University is Jared Wood

The Pioneer Award recognizes an individual or organization whose long-ago contributions and influence helped make Keene what it is today.

The award was presented to June Hollis, who moved to Keene in 1956 and served 37 years with the Keene Post Office, serving five postmasters and training all of them, to the extent that Keene residents considered her the postmaster. During this time she was also appointed to the City Council to fulfill an unexpected opening.

The Young Entrepreneur Award is presented to a young business person who has made a commitment to Keene.

This year’s honoree,Matt Gillin, grew up in Keene and graduated from Chisholm Trail Academy and then from Hill College Fire Training Academy, joining the fire department in Keene, where he became chief in 2008. 

Medical challenges caused him to resign in 2017 but he accepted a business challenge when he purchased Zimmerman’s Paint & Supply, a company that had been in business in Cleburne since 1913, and relocated it to Keene in what was unproductive space next to Hoops Automotive, thus putting a new business on the tax rolls and providing a new service.

Phillip Sparks Helping Hands Award, honors an individual who provides continued assistance without seeking compensation or recognition.

This year’s honoree, Judy Miles, joined the Southwestern Adventist University family in July of 1979 and formally retired in 2014 after 35 years of teaching in the Business and Computer Science Departments; however, her love for the University and its students keeps her teaching in the classroom to this day.    

Understanding the financial struggles of students living off campus, she launched a student food bank two years ago, volunteering her time and energy to keeping University students well-fed.

In the photos below, courtesy of Jessica Pounds and the Cleburne Times Review, from top to bottom, are:

• Fire Chief Dan Warner and Police Chief Emmitt Jackson with the Community Service Award

• Pioneer Award recipient June Hollis receives the award from Bugger Putnam

• Kevin Sellers, left, presents the Young Entrepreneur Award to Matt Gillin

• James Winegardner received the Citizen of the Year Award from past honoree Gwen Beeson

Rosser Funeral Home foursome wins golf tournament
September 09, 2019

The foursome representing Rosser Funeral Home carded an 18-under-par 54 to win the 3rd annual Texas Health Huguley Hospital and Keene Chamber of Commerce Golf Invitational tournament held Sept. 6 at Southern Oaks Golf & Tennis Club in Burleson. 

The event was also financially supported by Ulrich Barn Builders, Callahan & Freeman Architects, Pinnacle Bank, Speed FabCrete, General Insurance Service, Town Hall Estates and Cleburne Ford.

The Rosser quartet was Perry Rosser, Chad Johnson, Shane Kimberling and Jason Williams. Johnson also won one of the four closest-to-the-pin contests.

The team of Jason Nash, Ricky Neiman, Kenneth Rose and Zeeshawn Siddiqui, one of two teams representing Texas Health Huguley Hospital, won second place with a 15-under-par 57. Nash also won the longest drive contest.

The foursome representing United Cooperative Services — Ryan Jamison, Kade Kincannon, Jeff Pannell and Chris White, finished in third place with a 59, 13 shots under par. Pannell also won a closest-to-the-pin contest, as did Zane Hackler and Jonathan Kerby.

Seventeen teams participated. They were: Ag Texas Farm Credit Services, Callahan & Freeman Architects/Speed FabCrete, City of Keene, Classic of Cleburne, Cleburne Ford, Cleburne Railroaders Baseball Club, General Insurance Service, Johnson County Sheriff's Office, KTH Transportation, Keene Economic Development, Pinnacle Bank, Rosser Funeral Home, Southwestern Union Conference, Texas Conference, Texas Health Huguley Hospital and United Cooperative Services.

Om the photos below are the Rosser Funeral Home team of, from left, Shane Kimberling, Jason Williams, Chad Johnson and Perry Rosser.

The other photo is Jeff Pannell of United Cooperative Services, one of four closest-to-the-pin winners.


Eva Campbell
September 03, 2019

A memorial service for longtime Keene Chamber of Commerce office volunteer Eva Campbell was held Thursday, Sept. 5, at the Keene Adventist Church Chapel.

Eva, 74, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, as a result of a heart attack at her home in Keene.

Eva was an ever-present presence in the Keene chamber office, always pleasant and professional.

Attendees at the chamber's monthly luncheons and annual business expo and banquet could count on being greeted by Eva at check-in.

She was a golf fan and looked forward to greeting players at the annual golf invitational.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, Eva's hometown. 

In the photo below are Ken and Eva Campbell.

Roberts, Pinnacle Bank win parade honors
June 30, 2019

A longtime Keene businesswoman and a longtime employee of Southwestern Adventist University were marshals for the 30th annual Keene Fourth of July Parade.
Amy Lingo, former manager of the Keene branch of Pinnacle Bank, was the grand marshal. Lingo has been with Pinnacle for 27 years. She currently serves as treasurer of the Keene Chamber of Commerce. 

Dale Hainey, director of plant engineering at SWAU was the parade marshal. Hainey has been with SWAU for 42 years, the last 25 as director of plant engineering. He is a member of the Keene Business Expo and Health Fair planning committee and the Keene July 4 Celebration committee.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office color guard led the parade.

Keene resident Dan Roberts won Best Overall category with his refurbished vintage Dr Pepper delivery truck. Pinnacle Bank won in the Best Business category. 

Team of chamber members wins golf tourney
June 11, 2019

A foursome of members of the Keene Chamber of Commerce has a won a golf tournament that helps provides specialized wheelchairs for children with severe physical disabilities.

Playing as representatives of the Burleson Star newspaper, the team of Dan Mertz, Ken Shaw, Jonathan Wall and Paul Gnadt won the 7th annual Marine Corps League Longhorn Detachment 1069 Charity Golf Tournament June 7 at Hidden Creek Golf Course in Burleson. The foursome carded a 16-under-par 56 to win by one stroke. 

The event raised $5,500 for Wheelchairs 4 Kids, a Tarpon Springs, Florida,-based organization that provides wheelchairs and other mobile devices for handicapped children. 

Nineteen teams were registered for the four-person best-ball scramble. 

Mertz is owner of Mertz Family Dentistry in Keene, Shaw is president of Southwestern Adventist University, Wall is assistant professor of music at SWAU, and Gnadt is a reporter/columnist for the Burleson Star. All entities are member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

In the photo below, Wall, Shaw, Gnadt and Mertz receive their first place trophies from Bill Carver, past commandant of the Marine Corps League Longhorn Detachment. 

Cleburne Ford presents scholarship to daughter of Keene chamber member
June 02, 2019

Bobby de la Garza, president of Cleburne Ford, presented scholarships to some of Johnson County’s top students including Emily Weaver of Keene High School, daughter of T'resa and Rick Weaver. Rick is pastor for administration at the Keene Adventist Church.

The scholarships were presented at the Ford Driving For Your Dreams award banquet in Dallas.

In addition to Emily, the other Johnson County recipients were Ryan Geddie from Joshua High School and Tarek Arouse from Cleburne High School.

Cleburne Ford is a longtime member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce and the Keene Adventist Church is a charter member.

In the photo below are, from left, Emily Weaver, Bobby de la Garza, Ryan Geddie and Tarek Arouse. 

Ribbon cut at Universe Tea
May 30, 2019

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held May 23 to formally open Universe Tea at 101 S Old Betsy Road in Keene.

Owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Victor and Elgina Parilla, Universe Tea features Boba Tea served via Universal (or common) teas, milky tea and slushes.

Boba is a chewable, brown-sugar flavored ball-like item that can be added to any order.

There are a variety of flavors for all regular teas, milky teas and slushes, such as caramel latte, red bean, strawberry, mango, avocado, honey dew, red guava, honey roasted oolong and many, many more. 

Universe Tea (817-526-5171) is the newest member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

In the photo below, Victor Parilla is holding the scissors with Elgina at his right.

Thomsen Observatory is renovated and updated
May 30, 2019

The Eugene V. Thomsen Observatory at Southwestern Adventist University has been renovated and updated to meet increasing levels of community interest. Now, with a new 10-inch Thomas Back APO Chromatic telescope, mount, lenses, and cameras, and the options of either astrophotography or eyepiece viewing, the experience at the Thomsen Observatory is bigger and better than ever. In the spring of 2018, SWAU reopened the observatory with its first of many “star parties” where guests view planets, nebula, star clusters, and the lunar landscape. 

State-of-the-Art Equipment
The Thomsen-Hall telescope, an imposing 10-inch TMB apochromatic refractor (254 mm lens), grants exceptional deep-space vision, using all the light that enters to provide direct views of planets, stars, and nebulae. A CMOS camera, lenses, filters, and viewing screen support the refractor’s capability. 
Additional portable telescopes, including the Dickerson Meade 178-ED APO refractor and the Bo Walker Coronado Max- 70 H-alpha sun telescope, extend viewing during star parties and other special events. 

Recent History
In 2000, the observatory closed to the public due to a void of leadership and management. However, various faculty, alumni, community volunteers, and donors rallied around the cause over the years to bring the observatory back to life.
“The university is grateful for the dedication and generosity of the many individuals and groups that have allowed the observatory to flourish once again,” University President Dr. Ken Shaw said. 

Going Forward
In the spirit of the observatory’s namesake, Eugene Thomsen, a much-loved language professor who “was passionate about learning of all kinds,” the observatory is for anyone who loves to learn new things, see new sights, and “reach out to something bigger than oneself,” said his daughter, Cristina Thomsen. 
Potential observers are reminded that all events are free, and visitors are welcome to bring their own telescopes and chairs. For more information on upcoming events, or to view a gallery of photos including the Orion Nebula and the M3 star cluster visit To become a Friend of the Thomsen Observatory, visit or contact the Development Office at 817-202-6231. You may also make observatory inquiries or donations by email or phone at ude.uaws@yrotavresbo or 817-202-6573.

Southwestern Adventist University is a charter member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

Keene's sales tax revenue remains positive
May 15, 2019

As the Texas Rangers continue to sink further and further under .500, Keene's sales tax revenue continues to stay positive.

The city received $$87,978 in sales tax revenue for May, an increase of 3 percent more than the $85,090 it received in May of last year, according to figures released last week by State Comptroller Glenn Hagar.

The allocation is based on sales made in March by businesses that report tax monthly, and January, February and March by businesses that file quarterly. The monies are collected in March, counted in April and distributed in May, according to Hagar’s report.

Keene was one of seven Johnson County cities to receive an increase compared to May 2018, Hagar’s figurers indicate. 

As regards Keene’s immediate neighbors compared to May of last year, Cleburne is barely in the positive by 0.12 percent on revenue of $1,137,686 versus $1,136,271 in May 2018. Joshua is ahead 9 percent on sales tax revenue of $154,665 compared to $141,415 in May 2018. Rio Vista is up by a healthy 23 percent on revenue of $16,736 compared to $13,565 in May 2018, and Venus is up 6 percent on revenue of $68,991 compared to $65,326 last May.

On the negative side of the ledger are Alvarado, Godley and Grandview. Alvarado is down 24 percent on sales tax revenue of $212,688, compared to $278,501 in May 2018. Godley experienced a decline of 25 percent on sales tax revenue of $90,174 compared to $120,772 last May, and Grandview is down 4 percent, receiving $83,153 compared to $86,241 in May 2018.

Keene’s sales tax is 2 percent. The city retains 1 percent and the other 1 percent is divided by the Keene Economic Development Corporation (Type A board) and the Keene Business Development Corporation (Type B board).

Harlee Owen is Miss Teen of Johnson County
May 10, 2019

Harlee Owen has been named Miss Teen of Johnson County. 

Harlee is the daughter of Christa and Jeremy Owen, owners of Owen's Body Works Paint & Body at 122 E. Hwy. 67 in Keene.

Harlee will the the opportunity to compete for the title of Miss Teen of Texas 2020. 

Owen's Body Works Paint & Body is a member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

United Cooperative Services achieves safety milestone
April 24, 2019

United Cooperative Services employees have shared many safety highlights in the eight years it has taken to amass a recent company record of more than 2.5 million work hours without a lost-time accident.

Hitting the 2.5 million-hour benchmark puts United’s 158 employees in a league nearly all their own when compared with similarly-sized utility employee groups across the state and nation. The rare achievement is especially significant when considering the business United is in—delivering electric power to more than 57,000 member-owners across the co-op’s 14-county service territory.

Assuring the reliability of United’s electric distribution system often requires employees to work in some of the harshest conditions when restoring power or simply performing day-to-day maintenance. Some of the challenges faced by employees include tornadoes, wildfires, raging winds, lightning and heavy downpours. Despite these hurdles, United employees perform their jobs professionally and, more importantly, safely.

“Safety practices are not just for our lineworkers,” UCS CEO Cameron Smallwood said. “No employee is immune to factors that can contribute to an injury or a lost-time accident, and every employee is trained to observe safety not only for themselves, but for their fellow workers, too. That was emphasized recently when our employee group collectively pledged its support for adopting a more inclusive employee safety campaign we call ‘Commitment to Zero’—zero contacts, zero accidents and zero incidents.

United Cooperative Services is a longtime member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

Established in 1938 and headquartered in Burleson, United Cooperative Services is an electric distribution cooperative serving nearly 85,000 meters and more than 57,000 members. United plays a key role in the economic development of its communities and unlike a private utility, the cooperative is a not-for-profit business owned by the members it serves.  Maintaining more than 10,500 miles of energized line, United serves all or parts of Johnson, Erath, Hood, Bosque, Somervell, Palo Pinto, Coryell, Eastland, Comanche, Stephens, Young, Hamilton, Tarrant and Ellis counties.

Owens Paint & Body has new name
April 22, 2019

Owen's Paint & Body is now Owen's Body Works Paint & Body.

The complete auto repair and pant and body shop is located at 122 E. Hwy. 67 in Keene, just east of S. College Drive.

Owen's Body Works Paint & Body has been at that location since 2015.

Prior to that, the shop was on County Road 318 since 1997, owner Jeremy Owen said. 

Owen's Body Works (817-517-2338, specializes in collision repair, auto body repair, auto paint repair and restoration.

Owen's Body Works is a member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce. 

Quality Brakes & Alignment moves to new location
April 10, 2019

Quality Brakes & Alignment has moved to a new location in Cleburne.

After operating for 25 years on East Henderson, QB&A is now at 210 W. Smith Street.

(Head south on Main Street from the Courthouse and turn right on Smith Street.)

The expanded facility features six bays served by three ASE certified technicians.

"Our goal is to repair your vehicle’s problem the right way the first time at a fair price without making unnecessary repairs," said Cleburne native Joel Henslee, who has owned and operated QB&A since 1994. "Our specialty is honesty."

From the brake pedal to hydraulic brake fluid, brake master cylinder to power brake booster, drum brakes to disc brakes and electronic anti-lock brake sensors, QB&A technicians know every part of your brake system inside and out, Henslee said. 

QB&A also provides air conditioning repair, front end alignment, chassis repair, and trailer brakes and bearings. 

"We specialize in brakes, alignments, air conditioning, and shocks and struts," Henslee said. "At Qualtiy Brakes and Alignment, we offer complete car care for all vehicle makes and models. Our Multi-point inspection provides a clear picture of what you need to extend the life of your vehicle."

Joel probably won't be standing outside as he is in the photo below, but you can't miss the refurbished building. 

Quality Brakes & Alignment (817-556-2455) is a longtime member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

Rick Bailey recognized for 10 years of service
April 10, 2019

Johnson County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rick Bailey was honored April 8 for 10 years of service to the county.

Bailey was one of 30 employees to receive years-of-service pins during the Commissioners Court meeting at the Johnson County Courthouse.

Bailey, elected to office in 2008, received a 10-year pin from County Judge Roger Harmon, third from left.

Precinct 1 is in the southwest quadrant of the county and includes Cleburne, Rio Vista, The Retreat, Bono, parts of Pecan Plantation and Hamm Creek State Park. The precinct has 300 road miles.

Bailey also serves as president of the North & East Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association.

In the photo below, Bailey, second from left, receives his 10-year pin from Harmon. Looking on, from left, are commissioners Kenny Howell, Jerry Stringer and Larry Woolley. 

Bailey, Harmon and Woolley are members of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

Ground broken for new gym as KAES
March 31, 2019

Ground was broken for a new gymnasium/auditorium March 31 on the campus of Keene Adventist Elementary School.

About 150 people, including administrators of the Adventist Southwestern Union, Texas Adventist Conference, city elected officials, Keene Adventist Church pastoral staff, alumni and parents braved chilly Sunday morning temperatures to attend.

"This building will be destroyed someday, but the lessons learned here will last forever," KAES Principal Todd Coulter told the crowd

Work on the $1.5 million building will start when permitting is completed, Coulter said. Fifty percent of the funds have been raised and the school board does not want to take out a commercial loan to finish the work, he said.

Construction is expected to be finished toward the end of the 2020 school year, Coulter said. 

The building site is west of the Elementary School building. The KAES campus also includes a Middle School building. A large outdoor playground was relocated to the the north side of the Elementary School to create room for the gymnasium.

KAES is a longtime member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

Wielding shovels in the photo below are, from left, KAES Principal Todd Coulter, Kindergarten teacher Ruth Just, Keene Mayor Gary Heinrich, Texas Conference President Carlos Craig, eighth-grade class President Dominique Thomas, Kindergarten student Serena Bowyer, school board President Doug Bowyer, construction manager Ronnie Foust, Keene Adventist Church Senior Pastor James Winegardner and Texas Adventist Conference Superintendent of Education John Hopps.

Zimmerman's Paint & Supply opens at 316 S. Old Betsy Road
March 27, 2019

Zimmerman’s Paint & Supply is the newest member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

Owned and operated by Matt Gillin, Zimmerman's is the one-stop shop for auto body professionals and do-it-yourselfers, alike. It is located at 316 S. Old Betsy Road, immediately north of Hopps Automotive & Towing Service and across the street from Pinnacle Bank.

Zimmerman’s has the ability to mix any auto or industrial paint colors that you may need. They also carry all the necessary supplies to get the job done from start to finish, Gillin said.

Inventory includes custom mixed paint, sand paper, primer, sealer, tools, solvents, masking tape, body filler, and more.

Zimmerman’s Paint & Supply (817-645-2428, or Facebook) is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday thru Friday.

Gillin, a graduate of Chisholm Trail Academy who attended Hill College, worked from age 5 - 22 with his father, Wayne Gillin, at Wayne & Son Auto Repair.

Gillin also served 16 years with the Keene Fire Rescue Department, retiring in 2017 after 10 years as Fire Chief.

Coin counting machine open at Pinnacle Bank
March 14, 2019

The Keene branch of Pinnacle Bank has a machine you can count on.

A self-service coin-counting machine is now open in the bank's entrance. The machine counts coins and produces a receipt that customers present to a teller for paper currency.

"The machine is fun and saves time," Branch President Amy Lingo said. "Previously, our tellers had to leave their station to count coins at a different machine."

A small container is available for machine users to sort through their coins, making sure there are no objects such as paper clips, nails or foreign coins,  Lingo said.  

The coin machine is free for customers. Non-customers pay a transaction fee equal to 10 percent of the total.

In the photo below, Lingo prepares to pour a bucket of coins in the machine.

The machine is available during the bank's lobby hours: 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday and until 6 p.m. Thursday. 

Pinnacle Bank is a charter member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

Keene Pharmacy will take back drugs
March 14, 2019

A local business that sells drugs now takes them back.

Keene Pharmacy is participating the Oinmar Consumer Drug Take-Back program.

Keene residents can bring unused or expired prescription medication (including Schedule II-V controlled substances) to the pharmacy for deposit in a large safe-type receptacle.

Also accepted are unused or expired over-the-counter medications and pet medications.

Drugs and medications that cannot be accepted are Schedule I controlled substances and illegal drugs.

The Consumer Drug Take-Back receptacle is open during pharmacy hours, 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 5 p.m. Friday. 

In the photo below, Keene Pharmacy Technician Jenny Brown deposits prescription drugs in the take-back container.

Keene Pharmacy, 114 S. Old Betsy Road (817-558-3341) is a longtime member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

Crystal Sparkman joins General Insurance Service
March 12, 2019

Crystal Sparkman has joined General Insurance Service as professional administrative assistant.

The announcement was made by GIS owner Richard Bothe. General Insurance Service, 100 S. Old Betsy Road in Keene, is a charter member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

Sparkman returns to GIS after working there from 1999-2000. She left to join the Farmers Insurance office of George Williams, her brother, for 16 years. 

A graduate of Cleburne High School and resident of Godley, Sparkman has two adult children, two grandchildren and one on the way.

Sparkman fills the vacancy created by the unexpected Jan. 27 death of Maylene Jeffress, who was entering her 37th year with GIS.

Kelli Jamison will continue to serve in the GIS office on a part-time basis.  

Contact Us
Keene Chamber of Commerce
110 S. Old Betsy Road
Keene, Texas 76059
(817) 556-2995
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