Walton Chamber announces our 2020 Award Winners at the Annual Banquet January 28th!

Posted By: Teri Smiley Community,

Ambassador of the Year Award

We have several wonderful ambassadors, and this is a vital outreach program of the chamber.  The ambassadors serve as a liaison from the membership to the board of directors and assist with our Membership Retention. 

Our 2020 Ambassadors:

Blake Peters-Azalea Reginal Library System

Bonnie Haynes-Peach State Federal Credit Union

Carla Joyner- The Dainty Plum                         

Daphnne Faulkner-The Houston Group

Debbie Jones- Heritage Realty                    

Destiny Wright-Effectv

Heather Boyce- Piedmont Walton                       

Heather Forrester-Legacy State Bank                   

Janis Williams-CitruSolution Carpet Cleaning

Jocelyn Wykoff – AOC during 2019 now Rinse 

Josh Wilson- Push Motion           

Kylie Myers-Pest Force  

Leslie Watson-Synovus

Liz Robertson-Liz Rose Coaching

Maria Turner-Barrelle Roofing

Melanie Jackson-Your Local News

Natalie Pifer- Precision Planning                 

Robin Chadwick-Southeastern Paving

Samuel Vaughn-Velocity Technology Partners

Sandra Asbell-Ginny’s Custom Embroidery

Seth Parr-United Community Bank

Shallan Farmer-Edward Jones Financial Advisor

Sheri Hawes-Allstate-The Ellerbee Agency

Tanner Aycock-Acopia Home Loans

Timmy Hutson-Washington National

These ambassadors are asked to do a lot –serve as greeters at chamber events and meetings, help set up for meetings, attend ribbon cuttings, assist with Reality Check, contact current members, recruit new members, and help with other chamber projects as needed.

Our Ambassadors, as is fitting of the title, are often the face and first point of contact for the Chamber to new members and businesses throughout the County.  The ambassadors are on a point system, earning credit for each event they attend.  We are extremely honored to present the award this year to a very deserving person.  …

Here are our top 3 ambassadors for 2020.   In alphabetical order by Company – all starting with a P!

Piedmont Walton – Heather Boyce

Precision Planning – Natalie Pifer

Push Motion – Joshua Wilson

We can only recognize one as our Ambassador of the Year…and it was close – only 200 points difference between the top 2!  We are very proud to present the 2020 Chamber Ambassador of the Year Award to Joshua Wilson of Push Motion!

Industry of the Year Award

Industries bring investment, jobs, and stability to a community. Thriving industries are vital for a strong quality of life. The Development Authority of Walton County is the local champion of existing and future industries and is pleased to present the Industry of the Year award. 

Because of their investment in our community and their commitment to being a great neighbor, the Development Authority is pleased to award the 2020 Industry of the Year to Facebook 

Facebook is investing more than $1 billion in their Newton Data Center. The 1.5 million-square-foot operation located in Stanton Springs will support more than 200 high-paying jobs. Stanton Springs is the industrial park of the Joint Development Authority partnership with Walton, Newton, Morgan, and Jasper counties. 

Facebook’s investment in community and support of their neighbors goes beyond physical buildings. In the spring of 2020, Facebook provided nearly $1.5 million in grants to local schools, nonprofits and small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic located in the four-county region. Two notable local donations include a $370,000 grant to Social Circle City Schools to accelerate their plan to provide Chromebooks for 3rd -12th grade students and a $175,000 small business grant program administered by the Walton Chamber of Commerce that helped 73 local companies.  

Teri Smiley stated, “When Katie called me in 2020 right after the pandemic hit and stated that Facebook would like to donate some funds to small businesses in Walton County who had been affected by COVID but needed someone to administer the grant, it was a no-brainer for the Walton County Chamber to agree to take this lead.  The chamber launched its application process and Facebook donated $175,000 to help our local Walton County small businesses.  We were able to grant $1000-$2500 per business, again, helping 73 total local businesses here.  We cannot thank Facebook enough for this boost for our local business community.”

Facebook’s 2020 support was not a one-time activity. The 2021 Facebook Community Action Grant recipients will be announced this spring. 

We are proud to honor Facebook as our 2020 Industry of the Year. This award is sponsored by the Development Authority of Walton County.  

J.L. McGarity Citizenship Award

 Here is a little history about the J.L. McGarity Award…it was initiated in 1968 to recognize those citizens of Walton County who have exemplified those qualities of LEADERSHIP, INITIATIVE and DETERMINATION that are essential to effective public service. As of this date, 63 men and women have so been recognized for their contributions to Walton County.

Our J. L. McGarity Citizenship Award winner for 2020 is Patrick Graham. Because he has made a tremendous impact on Walton County through his leadership of the Walton Tribune and his many volunteer roles in the community, it is fitting to recognize his outstanding leadership, commitment, and dedication with this award.

Patrick’s involvement in United Way dates back to 2003 and was his first commitment upon his arrival in Walton County as publisher of the Walton Tribune. His dedication to our local agencies led to his appointment as campaign chair and then board president, serving two rounds in each position over the years. His passion for the agencies and the people they serve is rooted in compassion and his strong desire to help others and to make our community the best it can be. The Walton Tribune has the longest streak of 100% participation in United Way, which is a direct result of his leadership. To say that he has been instrumental in United Way over the last 17 years would be an understatement. Nothing that happens in United Way is untouched by his many years of leadership and the intelligence, integrity and commitment he brings to every decision.

Patrick has shown his commitment to a number of other causes through his participation and sponsorship, including Georgia Right to Life, the Pregnancy Resource Center, March of Dimes, Relay for Life, Student Success Alliance, Downtown Monroe and the Chamber. Since he acquired the newspapers in Covington and Alabama, he has made similar impacts on those communities as well.

Active for many years in the Monroe Rotary Club, he has served as publicity chair and is now serving as the president. He is also a Paul Harris Fellow. He served on the parish council and the building committee for St. Anna’s Catholic Church where he and his family are dedicated members.

Patrick is one of the few remaining community leaders who is truly independent. His actions spring from his own desire to make Walton County a great place to be, not from a corporate policy on community relations and social responsibility. He is a man with a tremendous character, spirit, and dedication, and richly deserves to be recognized with the J. L. McGarity Citizenship Award.

Member of the Year

The Member of the Year award is presented based a vote from our membership, from a pool of Member of the Month award winners.  The member of the month winners are selected by the Business Council from nominations made by the membership. 

The criteria for selection for this award are as follows:

  • Nominees must be of the retail, manufacturing, distribution, service or professional sector
  • Member must be a member in good standing of the Walton County Chamber of Commerce and have been in business for a minimum of 2 years.
  • Member must project a positive image
  • And, the nominee must have donated time, talent, and resources for the betterment of our community via projects, civic organizations, etc.

We would like to first recognize our Monthly Winners for 2020.  Due to the pandemic and not having all meetings in person, we have five (5) monthly winners for 2020 yet they are all wonderful local businesses and organizations in our community. Our five monthly winners for 2020 were Boys & Girls Club, Athens Technical College, The Houston Group CPA, Your Pie, and Peach State Federal Credit Union.

Our 2020 winner is a business that has been a chamber member for over 10 years.  The company’s employers and owner have been involved in the chamber and community throughout that time.  In the last few years, the ownership of the company changed yet she and her employees have remained active in the community and in the Walton Chamber.   Some of the involvement includes – Chamber Ambassador, Women in Business, Leadership Walton Graduate, Shepherd’s Staff Board.

“On their website it states that their approach to the service they provide in all about value.  They offer the skills and expertise of a larger company in their field combined with the personal attention and responsiveness of a smaller one.  When you partner with us, we take the time to get to know you, understand your goals and build an enduring professional relationship.”

During the pandemic, this owner offered workshops on the PPP Loans and compared those and the EIDL loan to give companies a better understanding of both and which might be the best fit for their business.  The office located in Between, GA – our 2020 Member of the Year award goes to The Houston Group CPA!  Congratulations to the owner, Cathi Houston!

Public Servant of the Year Award

The public servant award is presented annually to a person that best exemplifies the characteristics of a true servant leader in our community. 

For the dedication, long hours and true compassion for the citizens of Walton County, we are honored to present the Public Servant of the Year award, not just to one person but to a group of people.  As you all know, 2020 was a year none of us expected – a global pandemic hitting us at the end of the first quarter and as it turns out even harder here locally in December 2020 and January 2021. 

We cannot imagine the emotions that our healthcare workers have dealt with over the past year and continue to deal with even now.  We are excited to present our 2020 Public Servant of the Year award to our local Piedmont Walton Workers.  Heather Boyce, Director of Community Relations for Walton County accepted this award on their behalf.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you do!