Elected and municipal officials applaud former Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell Saturday as he receives the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
COLLEGE PARK Two well-known Clayton County men were recognized by the county’s Chamber of Commerce Saturday for years of service and leadership.
Business leaders presented the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award to former Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell, and its Carl G. Rhodenizer Community Service Award to Southern Regional Medical Center CEO Jim Crissey during the 59th Annual Chamber Banquet.
“They both have brought so much commitment to improving the quality of life in the county,” said Chamber of Commerce President Yulonda Beauford. “Both of them think on a national level and we thought this would be a great way to let them know how much we appreciate them.”
Bell and Crissey combined have decades of work in public service, albeit in different areas. Crissey has worked in health care while Bell has worked in public safety and government.
Bell was recognized for his tenure with the Atlanta Police Department from 1990 until 1994. However, many of the reasons cited by Clayton State University President Tim Hynes as he presented the award focused on Bell’s eight years as the leader of Clayton County government.
Those reasons included Bell’s work on a 2009 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, the commissioning of a disparity study designed to increase minority-owned business opportunities, efforts to improve regional transportation and work to get funding for parks, libraries and programs for senior citizens.
“He has traveled all over the country to represent Clayton County and has been instrumental in securing millions of [dollars in] federal and state funds for the county,” Hynes said.
Bell took the opportunity to thank several officials, including former county Commissioner Virginia Burton Gray. He also used the event as a chance to let business leaders know he wasn’t done with the county despite speculation that he planned to move away after his election loss last year to former Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner.
Bell is expected to start up his own consulting company.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Bell said. “I plan on staying in Clayton County.” He then turned to Hynes and Beaufort and jokingly said, “What year should I look forward to winning ‘Small Business of the Year?’ ”
Meanwhile, Crissey was honored because of his 15 years of healthcare-related work in the county.
Georgia Power Legislative Affairs Manager John D’Andrea cited Crissey’s work to help the county get a federally qualified health center last year designed to provide affordable health care to residents and his past involvement with the chamber and the Clayton county Archway Project.
D’Andrea also praised Crissey for his involvement in building “strong relationships with health agencies” in the Atlanta area.
One such relationship is the budding partnership between Southern Regional and Emory Healthcare, which will ultimately bring Emory’s resources to the Riverdale-based hospital and its satellite campuses.
“The affiliation between these two health systems will preserve and enhance high-quality health care for residents of Clayton County and the Southern Crescent,” D’Andrea said.
Crissey thanked several people he has worked with in and out of health care, including Hynes, Clayton County Health District Director Dr. Alpha Fowler Bryan, attorney Jack Hancock and Clayton County Hospital Authority Board Member Rev. Edward Best.
He also said the award was a treat because of the fact that it is named after Rhodenizer, the former county commissioner with whom Crissey is friends.
“I first met Carl about 14 years ago and I’m just honored to receive this award,” Crissey said.