By Curt Yeomans
A dozen Clayton County community leaders and elected officials were recognized with the title of "Outstanding Servant" on Saturday night, during the Coalition of Clayton County Clergy's first-ever Community Awards Banquet.
The event was held in the ballroom at Clayton State University's Student Activities Center.
The coalition is made up of the Association of Christian Ministers of Clayton County, the Clayton County Ministers' Conference, and the Forest Park Ministers Association. The theme for the event, which was attended by approximately 300 people, was "Uniting As One."
During his address to attendees at the beginning of the event, State Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Ellenwood), also the president of the Clayton County Ministers' Conference, called out unnamed critics, whom he only referred to as "They," for not supporting the event.
"We wanted to do something in Clayton County, for Clayton County," Glanton said. "'They' said it couldn't be done. 'They' said Clayton County would never support it. 'They' said people in Clayton County would never dress up, and pay $50 to attend something like this. 'They' said we could never find a place nice enough to hold it. When you see 'They,' I want you to tell them that they should have been here with us tonight."
The 11 people listed in the event's program who received leaderships awards were: Clayton County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services Valya Lee (Education); Rex resident, Larry O'Keeffe (Community Activist); Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough (Government-Elected); Clayton County Chamber of Commerce President Yulonda Beauford (Business); National Archives at Atlanta Regional Administrator Jim McSweeney (Community Partner); Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner (Government-Appointed); Hearts to Nourish Hope Executive Director Deborah Anglin (Community Non-Profit); Faith in Christ Mission Outreach Center Pastor Wilbert Jordan (Religious-Clayton County Ministers' Conference); Keep Clayton County Beautiful Executive Director Edie Yongue (Religious-Forest Park Ministers Association Conference); New Macedonia Baptist Church Pastor Gerry T. Anderson (Religious-Association of Christian Ministers of Clayton County); Association of Christian Ministers of Clayton County President and Lakewin Christian Center Pastor Harry J. Riley (Community Cornerstone Award).
In a category that was not announced until the banquet was underway, Glanton received the Exceptional Servant Award from Riley, and Forest Park Ministers Association President Leon Beeler.
Several award recipients touted the organization, department, or group they represented as they were recognized during the banquet. Beauford pledged that the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce would always support the community, while Sweeney said that the community could "find its history" at the National Archives at Atlanta.
Turner said he shared his award "with all of the men and women who wear the uniform of the Clayton County Police Department every day."
Kimbrough, in accepting his own award, said he was surprised to win it when he has only been an elected official since January. "If you like what you've seen in 10 months, we've got more of it coming," the sheriff pledged.