Pharos-Tribune business writer

STAR CITY — Two weeks have passed since Pulaski County showed two of its residents how much it appreciates their charitable efforts.

Wayne and Mary Lou Bonnell of Star City are this year’s H. J. Halleck Community Service Award recipients. Why were they chosen?

Because of their involvement in the Pulaski County Community Foundation, Power from the Past, the annual Snowball Tournament, and their roles in church leadership, says Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce President Renee Burton.

“It is an award from the Chamber of Commerce to an individual, or in this case a couple, who have given of themselves of their time to enhance and benefit the county and the people that live in it,” Burton said.

The Snowball Tournament that takes place every February at the Pond View Golf Course in Star City raises money to benefit local families and charities. This year the money went to the families of Crystal Haschel of Winamac and fallen Pulaski County Sheriff's Deputy Shad Bassett.

Haschel was hit head-on by a pickup truck last December. The wreck broke both her arms and legs and left her need of constant care. Husband, Rick, had to quit his job to provide that care along with caring for their two daughters.

Pulaski County Sheriff's Deputy Shad Bassett was killed Oct. 7, 2005 in a single-vehicle crash while on duty in northern Pulaski County. His family also received proceeds from the golf tournament.

The golf tournament has been an annual event since 1986, when it raised a little more than $1,000. Participants generated $26,000 this year.

Mary Lou Bonnell says she and her family have been getting too much attention over receiving the award.

“We haven’t done anything so outstanding that a lot of other people haven’t done,” Mary Lou said.

The family has received lots of cards and phone calls, flowers and gifts from people showing their appreciation.

“We were surprised and very honored to have won.”

She gives credit to her family and all those who donated their time, money and effort into making the tournament happen each year.

“Well, it’s not us. It’s the merchants and the golfers. You can’t do something like that yourself. You can lead the parade. It just doesn’t happen. Someone has to work it.”

Mary Lou said her children and grandchildren have taken over the daily operations and carry on the tradition.

“We have turned everything over to the kids and the beat goes on.”

Besides building a golf industry business, the Bonnells were instrumental in establishing Pulaski County Community Foundation, according to Burton. They also have created two charitable endowments.

Pine View and Pond View each have “established endowment funds within their County Community Foundations that will continue to generate income to carry out their charitable wishes,” said Mary Lou.

The funds have generated thousands of dollars.

The Halleck Award has been given annually since 1979. Nominations come from the community and there is never a shortage.

“There are a lot of people that give their time and set their heart into the places around here,” Burton said.

The Bonnells were given a plaque and a dinner to honor the achievement. When asked if she is proud that her children and grandchildren get the same satisfaction in giving back to the community?

Mary Lou responded, “Yes indeed.”

Kevin Lilly can be reached at 722-5000, Ext. 5117, or via e-mail at

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