Palestine Magazine January 2019 - Page 60

Steve Presley Mayor helps launch Operation Read Mayor Steve Presley helped launch a grassroots campaign – Operation Read – to encourage elementary students to read, and families to read together. Operation Read provided free books to kindergarten to third-grade students. Presley had read to students at Southside Elementary School. Later, after talking to the school’s librarian and principal, he learned many of the students had no books or reading materials at home. Presley, 65, a pharmacist, spoke to other community groups, such as Kiwanis, and urged them to also get involved with the new community- based reading program. Before becoming mayor in 2017, Presley served on the airport advisory board, school board (one year as president), and planning and zoning commission. With Operation Read, Presley used his position as a com- munity leader to step outside politics and serve the community in a grass-roots manner. Whatever he’s doing, Prelsey’s bottom line remain the same: Make Pal- estine a better place to live. “When I grew up, I was taught those fortunate enough to be in a posi- tion to help others are responsible for doing so,” he said. “My wife and I have always tried to do that.” Before running for mayor in 2017, Presley served for 12 years as the council member for District 6. “I want to help in any way I can,” he said. Stuart Whitaker A renaissance man with a camera Stuart Whitaker inhabits a variety of social circles around town. During the day, he is a respected attorney, representing clients in all walks of life. On weekends, you can find him playing DJ at the Shelton Gin. But most locals know him best as the man with the camera – taking pictures of events and happenings all over town. Whitaker’s love of photography started when his grandfather, an ama- teur photographer, gave him a nice camera as a gift. In high school, Whitaker took pictures for the yearbook. Taking event photos carried over into his adult life. Today, Whitaker is expected to commemorate practically every event in Palestine. With his love of photography came a love of community history. “Peo- ple started giving me old photos,” he said. “I would go through them and find these gems: pictures of people I had known my entire life. “I started collecting them. Now that collection has grown to thousands of old photos of people and places in Palestine.” A Rotary Club member, Whitaker is a community leader and avid volun- teer. He serves not only on the Palestine Economic Development Corpo- ration and Tourism Boards, but also the Hot Pepper Festival Committee and the board of the East Texas Museum of Culture.