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Clayton County Chamber of Commerce celebrates human assets at annual banquet

Attendees at the 60th annual Clayton County Chamber of Commerce don their masks for the masquerade-themed event in College Park Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

Attendees at the 60th annual Clayton County Chamber of Commerce don their masks for the masquerade-themed event in College Park Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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Sutherlands Food Service President Gene Sutherland Sr. accept the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year award as family and friends look on. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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Outgoing Clayton County Chamber of commerce Board Chairman Tim Hynes shares a laugh with his successor, Deborah Collins, during the chamber’s 60th annual banquet Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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This year’s Clayton County Chamber of Commerce banquet carried a masquerade ball theme. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

COLLEGE PARK — The Clayton County Chamber of Commerce is celebrating 60 years of holding its annual banquet by putting the spotlight on the county’s human assets Saturday.

The chamber held the banquet — which carried a masquerade ball theme — over the weekend at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in College Park. The chamber used Clayton County singers, provided by Jonesboro-based Freestyle Productions, as entertainment.

The event marked a departure from tradition for the chamber as it announced the winners of its lifetime achievement, Carl G. Rhodenizer community service and Business of the Year awards beforehand.

“This year, we want to just celebrate the greatness of our county and that is why we decided to announce many of our award winners in advance,” said chamber President Yulonda Beauford. “As you all know, we typically keep it a surprise, but we want people to know what’s happening in Clayton County and we want you to be able to come out and celebrate all of those good things.”

Attorney Robert Oliver received the chamber’s lifetime achievement award from Jack Hancock, a colleague of his at the law firm of Freeman Mathis & Gary. Oliver is a former president of the Clayton County Bar Association, a former deputy assistant attorney general and a charter member of the Clayton State University Foundation Board of Trustees in 1974.

He received an honorary doctorate from Clayton State in 2001 and currently serves as a trustee emeritus for the foundation. A legal studies scholarship was created in his name at the university last year.

Former Clayton County Commissioner Carl Rhodenizer bestowed accolades upon New South Package Store President Lata Chinnan as he presented her with the community service award that bears his name. Among the many activities cited by Rhodenizer were Chinnan’s support of activities in Riverdale, her involvement with the Rotary Club of Clayton County and her position on the Arts Clayton Board of Directors.

Allan Vigil presented Sutherland’s Foodservice with the Business of the Year Award. Vigil cited his long friendship with Sutherland family including its patriarch, Gene Sutherland Sr. Sutherland joked that their friendship came in spite of the fact that he is a University of Georgia supporter while Vigil is a fan of the University of Florida.

Pin Strikes Entertainment Center in Stockbridge won the Small Business of the year award. The other finalists for the award were FEPCO Trucking, Inc. and JD Full Service Auto Repair.

Georgia Power Vice-President of Environmental Affrais Ron Shipman received the Chairman’s Award from outgoing Chamber Board of Directors Chairman Tim Hynes. Shipman was the 2011 board chairman and Georgia Power was the presenting sponsor for the banquet.

Clayton State University Career Resource Center Director Dorothy Herzberg received the Chamber Partner of the Year Award for the second year in a row. Incoming chamber board Chairwoman Deborah Collins said Herzberg has been such a visible and regular supporter of the chamber at its events that she is sometimes mistaken for a member of its staff.

Herzberg chalked up her support of the chamber, however, to its quality.

“This is the best chamber that we could ever be a part of,” she said.