SCAGT presents $65K in scholarships to local grads


Supporters of Smith County Area Go Texan packed the inside of the Harvey Hall Convention Center in Tyler Saturday, July 21, for the fifth annual Smith County Area Go Texan Scholarship Gala fundraiser event.

“We had a great event again this year,” said Gary Hettenbach, member of the Smith County Area Go Texan and board member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. “Naturally, we couldn’t do what we do without the efforts of our committee members, whom I deeply appreciate. My absolute thanks goes out to each and everyone that attended and helped to support our Smith County AGT goal of raising scholarship money for the youth of Smith County.”

This year’s Smith County Area Go Texan scholarship gala event drew a capacity 400 attendees.

At the event, attendees were treated to a three course Italian dinner catered by 1836 Texas Kitchen in Tyler, serving beef and chicken fajitas with all the Tex-Mex fixings.

Musical headliner for the evening was the Frankie Ray Band, a local area Texas Country band covering many Country artists including George Strait and Garth Brooks, as well as many of their original songs.

The highlight of the event was the live auction, with local personality Jim Bob Lindsey serving as the event’s auctioneer again this year.

“Our auction this year was incredible,” said Hettenbach. “With the money raised just from the auction this year, we will be able to provide more Smith County students with scholarships at next year’s event. With the auction and ticket sales, we were able to raise over $49,000 this year. We hope our future events will continue to exceed the previous year’s efforts.”

The leadership of the Smith County AGT organization also presented a total of eight $5,000 scholarships to Smith County area agriculture students for the upcoming year.

Whitehouse High School graduates, each presented with a $5,000 scholarship, included Courtney Eeds and Katherine McLeod. Eeds will attend Texas A&M while McLeod will attend Southern Methodist University.

Troup alum John Womack was also among recipients of the Smith County Area Go Texan scholarships. Womack will attend Texas A&M.

Other winners of $5,000 scholarships from Smith County Area Go Texan included Addison Baquet (Lindale High School/University of North Texas), Katherine Dulaney (Brookhill/Baylor University), Kathryn Kuczkowki (Bullard/Texas A&M), Natalie Lim (Grace Community School/University of Texas), and Conner White (Bullard/Texas A&M).

Shayna Ballin of Whitehouse was the big winner of scholarship money from Smith County Area Go Texan this year, earning a $20,000 scholarship from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Ballin will attend Texas A&M.

Also honored, with an extention of $2,500, were two previous scholarship winners, Bullard High School graduate Spencer Dempsey and Winona alum Sara Bass.

The Smith County Area Go Texan committee was formed in 2014 and has presented over 40 recipients with a total of $277,000 in scholarships.

Smith County Area Go Texan is an all volunteer organization which is associated with and serves to promote the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Local committee members do not chose scholarship recipients.

Current committee members include Dr. John Alexander, Duane Barber, Dr. John Camp, Kara Camp, Susan Davis, Pam Frederick, Wade Frederick, Hollie Gambino, Gary Hettenbach, Kathy Hettenbach, Ken Langley, Betty Odom, Sherri Reed, John Tucker and Wanda Tucker.

“This year’s fundraiser was the epitome of a successful event,” said Hettenbach. “I hope everyone keeps our name on their list, and that we will see them again next year.”

Sponsors for the 2018 Smith County Area Go Texan scholarship gala included Our Family Vet Clinic (Venue Sponsor), SDS Petroleum Consultants (Band Sponsor), Lakota Energy, Risk Placement Services, Kathy and Gary Hettenbach (Beverage Sponsors), R&K Distributing, Holiday Inn, Brookshire’s, Kiepersol Winery, G&G Distributing, and Sherri and Don Reed (Event Sponsors).

For more information about Smith County Area Go Texan, visit


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