Hinton's mayor has named Sandy Turner this year's "Spirit of Hinton" award winner. She will serve as the grand marshal of the Hinton Christmas Parade at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. She will be honored at 3 p.m. at the freight depot and presented with a key to the city. She will also take a part in the tree-lighting ceremony in the city park at the corner of Third Avenue and Temple Street after the parade.
Last year over 300 people attended the lighting festivities and even bigger crowds are expected this year, depending on the weather.
Mayor Joe Blankenship said Turner was selected because she goes beyond the call of duty to help others in the community. This is his 10th selection in his tenure as mayor. Turner heads several civic organizations and 4-H camp for kids and is involved with the Hinton Area Foundation.
Turner, who became the director of Camp Summers in April 2008, was tasked to improve and restore the deteriorating camp on the banks of the Greenbrier River in Summers County. For over 80 years, Camp Summers has provided weeks of fun and memories for numerous organizations, churches, 4-Hers and family reunions.
Since 2008 they have been working on restoring the facilities through grants and partnering with civic groups. With the help of the community, County Commission, Camp Summers’ alumni and friends, Turner said she has crossed many items off of the original punch list; however, the 2016 flood pushed the need for many improvements to be completed quickly.
Improvements included new roofs on all of the buildings, new wiring, a new full-size basketball court, two new double convection ovens, a new dishwasher, new ceilings and flooring in the dining hall, new air conditioning units, new ventilation and refrigeration, and a hot water system. One of the biggest and most noticeable improvements happened this past season with completion of a new swimming pool. This pool project was definitely a labor of love, Turner pointed out.
“Our community has restored the camp, not Sandy Turner. My wish is that any child, who wants to go to camp, can enjoy a quality, safe camping experience while making memories that will last a lifetime," Turner noted.
"Once they are at camp, the kids can play and interact with other children while experiencing character education, team building and learning leadership skills. Part of the charm of Camp Summers is that it allows kids and adults to be 'unplugged from the world' in our rustic setting."
Turner's drive is to promote and perform service in Hinton and around Summers County. She serves as the Kiwanis Club president and is very active in supporting and promoting the local youth through the Summers County High School Key Club, Summers County High School Cheerleaders, Bobcat Football teams and many more local activities.
She is married to Mitch Turner and has four children and three grandchildren, Chastity Ratliff and her children, Ashley and Anthony Goodman, John Robert Ratliff and his daughter, Haley Ratliff of Hinton, Jordan and Cynthia Berry of San Diego, Calif., and Tyler Turner of Morgantown. Sandy’s family will quickly add, “If Mom is involved, then we are involved with whatever endeavor she has undertaken.”
"I want to do my part to give our local children tools to be able to compete in this world. I want them to be able to go to college or a trade school and come back to Hinton or go elsewhere and to give back and serve their communities.
“Camp Summers holds a special place in folk’s hearts that have had the privilege of staying in those historic cabins," Turner explained. "I am so thankful that I can be a part of those memories and I am grateful to be helping sustain and improve the facility that allows the memories to happen.”