DOVER — The man never at a loss for words when it comes to sharing his love of Dover International Speedway kept it short Friday afternoon when he was named Kent County Tourism’s Person of the Year.
“Thank all of you very much,” said George Keller. “I appreciate it.
“Have a great afternoon.”
The announcement of the award climaxed the 25th annual Kent County Tourism Celebration of Tourism awards, silent auction and luncheon held at the Duncan Center in Dover.
Mr. Keller, a retired Dover High School teacher and coach, has not missed a race at the Monster Mile since it opened in 1969. The track historian, he not only gives weekly tours of the track, but helps with orchestrating the victory lane celebration at the end of each race. In those roles he has had interaction with countless fans visiting the speedway.
Dover Motorsports and Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment were named Icon of the Year. Jerry Dunning, general manager and senior vice president of Dover Motorsports, accepted the honor, thanking those in the community who have supported the companies through the years.
“We have enjoyed a very successful 46 years and hope to continue to have success,” he said.
Other awards well received by those attending were the presentation to longtime community leader Reuben Salters with the Lifetime Achievement Award and the recognition of Dave “Mr. Dover Days” Skocik’s 25 years of volunteer service.
Mr. Salter, former Dover councilman and founder of the Inner City Cultural League, has been “an icon in the Dover community for more than 45 years,” said Lorraine Dion, director of special events for Kent County Tourism.
“He recognizes the importance of community,” she said, and education as a way to engage Dover’s youth.
He also founded the Sankofa Dance Theater and was an early organizer of the annual African-American Festival in Dover. Mr. Salters also has been the force behind the construction of the Sankofa Cultural Arts Center, set to open soon on South Kirkwood Street.
“Thank you,” said Mr. Salters. “It’s been a long time, a hard road.
“But many people have helped.”
He thanked God, his family and the youngsters who have participated through the years.
“I thank God for the opportunity to serve this community and great county,” he said.
Mr. Skocik, a Vietnam veteran who has made it a life’s mission to help fellow veterans, was honored for his service to the many organizations in which he is involved, his role as the host of the “Academic Challenge” on Comcast cable station and for being the longtime official announcer for the Dover Days parade.
Kent County not only is the middle county of the state, he said, but the “best of the First State.
“We have a lot to be proud of here.”
The other awards presented were:
• Tourism Partner of the Year: Chesapeake Utilities
• Tourism Attraction of the Year: Killens Pond State Park
• Tourism Volunteer of the Year: June Jam volunteers
• Hotelier of the Year: Home2 Suites by Hilton, Dover
• Media Partner of the Year: Phil Feliceangeli, news editor of WDOV-AM