Tom Byars, a native of Roaring Springs, Texas, and currently a resident of Lockney, Texas, was recently named the "Cooperative Ginner of the Year" for the state of Texas. The award is made annually in recognition of the top general manager of a farmer -owned cooperative cotton gin in the state.

Byars was cited for his many years in the cotton ginning business, having helped to build the co-op gin in Enochs, working for the Beck Gin Company in Lubbock, assisting in a major turnaround at the co-op gin in Friona, running Welch Farmers Gin for a brief period, but spending most of his career and raising his family in Seminole, where he ran his own gin.

He was also recognized for his work at rebuilding, establishing, and managing more than 15 gins in Mexico. His international background, his ability to assess the situation and bring remedy to a gin, made him a valuable resource to build two cotton gins in Africa. He took on all those assignments with an open mind, a focus toward efficiency and a commitment to see things to completion.

Prior to landing his present job as general manager of Lockney Co-op Gin in 2005, Byars took his skills to Mississippi to restore a troubled gin. As noted in his presentation, everything he touched seemed to turn to gold and he quickly developed a reputation as a staunch turnaround specialist.

He and Patsy, his wife of 39 years, have a daughter living in Colorado and a son in Lubbock.

Over the years, he served on the Seminole Independent School District Board of Trustees, president of the Seminole Ag Boosters club, and is a member of the Masons in Plainview and the VFW in Lockney. He was drafted into the military at the age of 24 and was stationed in Germany achieving the rank of sergeant.

Byars was recognized during ceremonies at the CoBank / Texas Agricultural Cooperative Council (TACC) Joint Cooperative Meeting in Corpus Christi in March.

During the 4 - day meeting attended by some 350 representatives, Randy Reid, general manager of TriCounty Producers Co-op in Loop, was elected president of TACC. In addition, John Cowan, the CEO of the Texas Association of Dairymen in Grapevine, received the "Cooperator of the Year" award and Ed Bercot, an agribusiness CPA living in Boerne, received the Distinguished Service Award.