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Posted: Thursday, May 15th 2014 at 10:16pm

Gov. Deal headlines Greater Hall Chamber gala

By Mitch Clarke, Editor
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Gov. Nathan Deal addresses the crowd at the 106th annual Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce gala Thursday night. Photo by Dave Simpson.
Gov. Nathan Deal and his wife, Sandra, highlighted the 106th annual Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Gala on Thursday night.

Speaking to an overflow crowd at the Chattahoochee Country Club, Deal thanked local business and economic development officials for their efforts to bring jobs to Hall County.

Deal said 243,000 jobs had been created statewide since he took office in 2011.

“That’s a remarkable figure,” he said. “We are rapidly closing in on a quarter million jobs.”

Deal said the state’s decision to hold the line on taxes and to pass other business-friendly legislation is why so many businesses are looking at Georgia.

“We realized the only way to bring ourselves out of a down-turned economy was to create jobs, and we’ve done that,” the governor said.

In Hall County alone, the governor said 33 projects have been announced by either new or existing industries since he took office.

The gala is an annual event held by the chamber to celebrate the group’s success and to honor volunteers and other who have served the chamber in the past year and longer.

“We are here tonight to celebrate the year with our business friends and guests,” said outgoing chairwoman Dixie Truelove. “We are proud of the work of our chamber. We successfully created new jobs from large and small businesses, new and existing industries and we provided education and leadership opportunities for our members.”

“It is a perfect Chamber of Commerce evening on the shores of beautiful – and full – Lake Sidney Lanier,” said president and CEO Kit Dunlap.

One of Deal’s closest confidantes, businessman Philip Wilheit, was presented the Distinguished Citizen Award. Deborah Mack, former Hall County commissioner and community volunteer, was given the W.G. Mealor Award for outstanding volunteerism in the chamber and the community.

Truelove said that when she was growing up in North Hall, she didn’t realize the vision of community leaders that had helped put a hospital, shopping malls, banks and other businesses nearby.

“But traveling around the state and country, I realize there are many visionaries and risk takers of the past and of today that need to be thanked,” Truelove said. “Their love of this community has set us on a path of success. … I am happy to be a part of this chamber family.”

Truelove passed the gavel to new board chairman David Lee of Jackson EMC who will lead the chamber in the coming year.

The award winners include:

-- Distinguished Citizen Award to Wilheit. A close personal friend and advisor to Deal, Wilheit is currently chairman of the state Board of Regents, which oversees the university system. He has been involved in numerous civic and philanthropic causes in Hall County over the years.

“There is no one I know of in the state of Georgia or elsewhere that has meant more to our community, given more of his time and resources and who continues to serve than Philip Wilheit,” Dunlap said.

-- W. G. Mealor Award to Mack. Named after the chamber’s first chairman, the award is given by the current chairman to a volunteer who has gone beyond the call of duty working for the chamber and the community.

“Mack has served the community more than just politically,” said Truelove, citing Mack’s contributions to the founding of Gateway Domestic Violence Center and WomenSource, among other endeavors.

-- Community Service Award to businessman Dallas Gay, Dr. Tennant Slack and Dr. Jack Chapman for their involvement in the Medical Association of Georgia Foundation’s “Think About It” campaign to reduce prescription drug abuse.

Gay is one of the primary architects of the “Think About It” campaign as he addresses the dangers of prescription drug abuse, which took the life of his grandson in 2012. Slack, the co-chair of the campaign, traveled the state to raise awareness with physicians and community groups. Chapman, president of the Medical Association of Georgia, played a key fundraising role.

-- Small Business of the Year to Cotton Eyed Joe’s, which provides promotional materials and branding services to schools and businesses.

“No matter the size of the company or job, they are able to maintain the same standard of excellence,” said Lee, who presented the award. “Clients continue to applaud their products and services.”

-- Family Business of the Year to McGarity’s Business Products.

“Our philosophy is simple,” said owner Scott McGarity. “Provide quality products at competitive prices and always provide absolutely excellent customer service.”

The chamber also announced the winners of the annual Silver Shovel Awards, given to outstanding chamber volunteers.

Silver Shovel Awards will given to Randall Frost, Stewart Melvin & Frost; Brent Hoffman, Berkshire Hathaway Georgia Properties; Dale Jaeger, The Jaeger Company; Lane Jones, Highland Mountain Beverage; Randy Knighton, Hall County Government; Jody Lail, Chattahoochee Bank of Georgia; Malissa Lawrence, Lanier Technical College; Bill Lightfoot, Brenau University; Steve Naughton, Enterprising Solutions; Kip Padgett, City of Gainesville; Tony Paramore, Gainesville Paint; Carl Romberg, Direct South; Bill Sanders, Jackson EMC and Todd Young, Publix.

Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News

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