Outstanding persons recognized at Delmarva Poultry banquet

MD-preston couple 2x-042116

Special to Dorchester Banner/Delmarva Poultry Industry
Tom, Mary, and Eric Cheezum of Preston, 36-year growers with Allen Harim, LLC and its predecessor companies, were named outstanding chicken growers at the April 20 Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. Booster Banquet. Shown are Tom, on the left, and son Eric. They were among 12 farm families honored at the banquet.

SALISBURY — Hundreds of persons supportive of the Delmarva Peninsula’s chicken community gathered in Salisbury, recently for the Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. (DPI) Booster Banquet, the 1,800-member trade association’s annual membership dinner. During its 60th banquet, DPI recognized 12 outstanding chicken growers and four individuals for their work on behalf of the chicken industry.

The J. Frank Gordy, Sr. Delmarva Distinguished Citizen Award, DPI’s highest honor, was presented to Charlie Carpenter of Somerset County. Just weeks out of college in Kentucky, Mr. Carpenter began work with Perdue Farms and has been with Perdue his entire 43-year career in a variety of positions.

He served on the Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. Board of Directors from 1991 until 1994 and then returned to the board in 2006, serving as president in 2009. He remains on the board today. He has been one of the most active board members. He has represented the chicken industry for several years on the Maryland Agricultural Commission and is this year’s chairman.

He has the distinction of being named a Kentucky Colonel by two separate governors of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. These recognitions were given for his work in the poultry industry and agriculture and contributions to the community and state.

He and his wife, Marsha, live near Princess Anne. They have two sons, Chris and Chad, two daughters-in-law, and six grandchildren.

The Edward H. Ralph DPI Medal of Achievement was presented to Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown of near Salisbury, Maryland. The award goes to a non-elected person for outstanding service on behalf of Delmarva’s chicken industry.

Dr. Stewart-Brown has been active with DPI since early in his Delmarva career in 1998, serving on the DPI Board of Directors for many years and as chairman of the DPI Emergency Poultry Disease Task Force. He has helped the chicken industry and governments improve emergency disease preparedness and response plans.

The DPI Medal of Achievement for an elected official went to Maryland State Delegate Charles Otto of Somerset County. Born in Salisbury and raised on the Lower Eastern Shore, Delegate Otto has a long history of service to the agricultural community through both community activities and his employment.

A final DPI Medal of Achievement was presented to Dr. Paul Twining of Somerset County, who Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. recognized in 1988 with Delmarva’s Distinguished Citizen Award. Over the last 28 years he has continued to make important contributions to DPI and Delmarva’s chicken industry.

Additionally, DPI recognized 12 outstanding chicken growers. Selected by their companies from Delmarva’s more than 1,600 poultry growers, Among this year’s recipients were Tom, Mary, and Eric Cheezum of Preston.

Tom and Mary Cheezum became chicken growers in 1980 when they bought a farm with two chicken houses near Preston. They now operate just one upgraded house in which they grow 20,000 antibiotic free birds per flock for Allen Harim.

Tom and Mary’s youngest son Eric also is involved with the chickens. In addition to chickens, the Cheezums til 750 acres in small grain, corn, and beans. Tom and Mary attend Bethesda United Methodist Church in Preston.

Since 1980, Tom has seen many changes in the chicken industry, including use of tunnel ventilation, controllers, and other technological advances. Tom credits “consistency” as being important to success in growing chickens and adds that “a little common sense goes a long way.”

Tom and Mary have two sons, Tom II and Eric. In addition to helping around the farm, Tom II teaches music at Col. Richardson High School in Federalsburg. He and his wife, Christy, are parents to Tom III, Jill, Susannah, and Violet.

Eric is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a doctorate in history. Along with farming and raising chickens, he is an author and lecturer and serves as an adjunct professor at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills.

Close to 700 people attended the DPI banquet; an annual celebration of the Delmarva Peninsula’s chicken industry.

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