By JOHN ANDERSON
Over the years, youth and high school sports programs in Avoca had all the advantages of a small, rural community with the benefits of playing for a large school or city.
One of those reasons was the behind-the-scenes work of Wayne Benton.
Professionally, Wayne was best known for his work when he opened the Arnold & Benton Insurance Agency in Avoca in 1981. In 2017, the agency merged with Genesee Valley Insurance Agency and Benton continued as president of both agencies.
His involvement with sports started small. Like other businesses, he sponsored a youth baseball team. Then he sponsored softball, soccer and other sports and activities.
The real difference started in March of 1989.
During the 1987-1988 high school basketball season, the Avoca Tigers basketball team traveled to Glen Falls as lost to a team from Chester (Sugar Loaf) by an 81-52 score.
The next season, the team went 26-0 and made the state final four again.
Benton led a community effort to raise money for the team to have the best travel experience and accommodations. The team won the semi-finals, and then capped off a perfect 28-0 season by avenging the loss from the year before and defeating Sugar Loaf, 66-61 for the New York State Class D championship.
Benton’s leadership did not stop there. He purchased new sod for the Little League Field at Hees Park. He worked with other community organizations to get new lights on the field as well.
When it came to civic duty, Wayne jumped in as an active member of the Avoca Lions Club and the Avoca American Legion Post 1315 where he is a lifetime member. He served on the board of directors for the Bank of Avoca as well.
His years of dedication have not gone unnoticed.
On Feb. 25, Wayne Benton will be honored at the Central Steuben Chamber of Commerce 2022 awards banquet when he receives the Community Lifetime Achievement Award for Avoca.
His son , Aaron Benton, who has continued the same community spirit at the insurance agency, will be accepting the award for his father, who can not attend.
HOW TO GET TICKETS (deadline is Feb. 15)
Tickets are now on sale for the annual awards dinner which will be held at the Charles E. Westcott American Legion Post #173 at 14 West William Street in Bath.
The dinner will be held on Feb. 25, but the chamber would like RSVP information by Feb. 15.
The cocktail hour begins at 5 p.m. on Feb. 25 with dinner at 6 p.m. and the awards banquet at 7 p.m.
The cost is $40 and you can RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 607-776-7122.
Any individual or business interested in the general advancement of the Central Steuben County Area are eligible for membership. The Chamber office hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. or by making an appointment at (607) 776-7122.
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