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ARC chairman applauds the county's collaboration

The chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission has cited the cooperation he has witnessed between Henry County's governmental leaders and the business community as a model to be copied.

"I am proud of what you all are doing in Henry, and I am going to take this example ... to this region," Tad Leithead said over the weekend.

Leithead made the comments as the guest speaker at the Henry County Chamber of Commerce's 4th Annual Meeting/Dinner, at the Eagle's Landing Country Club in Stockbridge. "Hopefully, we will emulate it," Leithead said.

Mayors Billy Copeland, of McDonough, Lorene Lindsey, of Locust Grove, R. W. Coley, of Hampton, and Lee Stuart, of Stockbridge, were in attendance. Also on hand were: County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B. J." Mathis, and commissioners Bruce Holmes, and Fred Auletta, as well as Henry Schools Superintendent Ethan Hildreth.

"All four mayors and Chairman ‘B.J.,' are voting members of the chamber," said Leithead. "Business, government and the school board working together to embrace diversity ... That is an example this entire region should follow."

The event attracted some 300 people, and tribute was paid to five who made a difference in the community in the categories of education, business, volunteerism, public service, and citizenship.

Leithead also told the group one of the issues they will face is the widening of Interstate 75, near the Eagle's Landing Parkway. He also said that on Aug. 1, 2012, residents in the county could be voting for a 1-cent sales tax, which would generate $10 billion to spend in the region.

He also warned those in attendance to prepare for the county's rapid growth. "...Transportation is threatening to choke the life out of this region," said Leithead.

A highlight of the event was the Chamber's board of directors' presentation of awards to five people: Vice Chair for Government & Education, June Wood, announced that Gina Rochell was chosen as "Teacher of the Year." She is a fourth-grade instructor at Hickory Flat Elementary School.

"One of Ms. Rochell's techniques is her ability to inspire students sowing seeds of confidence in their lives," said Wood. "She writes about their day-to-day accomplishments to empower them ..."

Chairman-elect Danny Brown announced that JCPenney is "Business of the Year" for its community involvement. Mike Hall, former General Manger of the McDonough JCPenney store accepted the award.

"The original JCPenney store was called the ‘Golden Rule' store," said Hall. "I am thankful to work for a company that still believes in that philosophy. I have the pleasure of working with 200 of the very best people. I am proud to accept this award on their behalf."

Vice Chair for Chamber Development, Kevin Smith, presented the "Volunteer of the Year" award to Denese Rodgers. "This year's recipient ... exemplifies the word "volunteer," said Smith. "She has played a significant role in our Chamber, and the entire community, for many years."

Secretary/ Treasurer, Eddie Ausband, presented Jim White with the W.L. "Billy" Carter Public Service award. "With over 20 years of service as a member of the Henry County Development Authority Board of Directors, [he] unselfishly contributed thousands of hours to the betterment of our community," said Ausband.

Henry Chamber Chairman Taylor Rice gave the "Citizen of the Year" award to David Gill, who has served on the Henry County Development Authority's Board of Directors for 15 years, and as an executive with First State Bank.

" I am very appreciative, and it's very humbling ...," said Gill.