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Catherine Martin named Palmer Newspapers Group's Employee of the Year
by MIKE McNEILL
Banner-News of Magnolia

MAGNOLIA, Arkansas -- Feb. 7, 2006 --The third time was the charm for Catherine Martin. Martin, who has three times been selected as the Banner-News and Banner-News Office Outfitters' best employee, was named Friday, March 17 as the Walter E. Hussman “Employee of the Year” for the Palmer Newspapers Group.

She was selected for the honor in competition with “Employee of the Year” nominees representing the Banner-News, Camden News, El Dorado News-Times, Hot Springs Sentinel-Record and the Texarkana Gazette.

Surprising Martin late Friday morning was the arrival at the Banner-News of Walter E. Hussman Jr. of Little Rock, Palmer Newspapers CEO; and Buddy King of the Texarkana Gazette, Palmer Newspapers president. Hussman made the formal presentation to Martin as Banner-News co-workers watched.

“Oh goodness gracious!” she said.

“Catherine, this is great. Twenty-seven years. You've done a great job. I commend you for all the work you've done. You really deserve this honor and we're proud to have you with our company,” Hussman said.

“Thank you so much. I really appreciate this. I am really surprised,” Martin said.

Martin had commented to a co-worker earlier in the week that she didn't think she would be named the company's top employee this year, and joked that she expected to become the “Susan Lucci” of Palmer Newspapers, referring to the television actress best known for receiving multiple Daytime Emmy Award nominations, but not winning until recently.

For Martin, the string was broken by the announcement.

Banner-News general manager Betty Chatham was less surprised.

“She has such a great personality and she gets along so well with the advertising community. She is cross-trained in not only selling but inner-office work and computer graphics. She's a good role model for other employees,” Chatham said.

The “Employee of the Year” process starts at local Palmer Newspapers, each of which selects one worker for the annual award from quarterly award winners. The nominees are forwarded to a special committee of Palmer Newspapers management for the corporate selection.

As Walter E. Hussman Employee of the Year, Martin received a trophy, cash award and an additional week of vacation.

Martin is a graduate of Natchitoches, La., Central High School, and holds a journalism degree from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. She moved to Magnolia with her husband, Ricky Martin, in January 1977. She began career with the Banner-News in the classified advertising department in 1978 and later moved into retail sales. She works daily with advertising accounts, assisting with ad design and scheduling.

The Martins have one son and one granddaughter.

Martin is the fourth Banner-News employee to receive the Hussman awards.

Sports editor Chris Gilliam received the award in 2003. Pressman Bobby Gurley was honored in 1999. Mary Haynie won the award in 1991.

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