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Citizen, Farmer, Businesses of Year honored

The annual Chamber of Commerce dinner was well attended as the Citizen of the Year, Farmer of the Year and Small and Large Businesses of the Year were honored. George Norris received a standing ovation as he was named Citizen of the Year. Rebekah Betsill, past Kiwanis Club president, presented him with the award. ’It is said that a man may do an immense deal of good if he does not care who gets the credit for it. Our choice for this year’s Citizen of the Year has exemplified this throughout his life,’ said Betsill. ‘He was raised in Pike County. As he watched his father’s efforts to join with other local farmers to implement a FDR program to save southern agriculture during the Great Depression, he learned how the care of the land was bound up in service to his community,’ she said. ‘˜Following in his father’s footsteps, he worked the soil until he joined the Soil Conservation Service, later the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This southern son of the soil accepted an agency-sponsored opportunity to enroll at Harvard University to earn a Masters in Public Administration. Thank goodness he returned to Pike after retirement. He has been a community leader, nurturing cows, hay and men with an overriding faithfulness to the land, his family, and his community. He is a mentor for the Scouting program, a guardian of spiritual places, a soft spoken, yet steadfast advocate for responsible growth, and always, a steward of the land.’ It was noted that Norris was one of the founding members of the Pike County Agribusiness Authority and the Pike County Historic Preservation group. ’He is a grower of citizens through his quiet, steadfast example. He reminds us that we all have a responsibility to roll up our sleeves and work to make this community better than we found it. For all of his commitment to our community, our land, and our future, tonight, let us give credit where credit is due,’ said Betsill. ‘We are pleased to award the 2017 Person of the Year honor to George Norris for his lifetime of service to Pike County.’ Tom Lacey was named Farmer of the Year by Ken Gran of the Agribusiness Authority who presented the award although Lacey was unable to attend. ’The Agribusiness Authority wants to recognize him for his unwavering commitment to agriculture, not only in Pike County but in the state of Georgia as well,’ said Gran. ‘Tom was a founding member of the Pike County Agribusiness Authority which began in 1994 and he has been a faithful member ever since. He currently serves as supervisor on the Towaliga Soil and Water Conservation District Board, Two Rivers RC&D board and is president of the Pike County Farm Bureau. In past years, he has served on the Water Authority board and was a Pike County commissioner. In short, Tom Lacey is a man who has served agriculture and his community for many years.’ The 2017 Small Business of the Year award was presented to Eye Can See 2 which is located on the courthouse square. Chamber board chairman Jason Brisendine presented the award to owner Holly Autry, manager William Chancellor and apprentice optician Tiffany Edmonds. ’Eye Can See has built a reputation that customers do no have to pay a high price for high quality. They are also involved with the local Kiwanis Club chapter and help to improve the lives of those who suffer from poor vision but do not possess the means to pay a high price for medical services and devices,’ said Brisendine. ‘The patients, the community and the well being of the staff always come first. Owner Holly Autry thanked everyone for the honor of being named Small Business of the Year. ’We opened in August 2016 and I cannot express enough our gratitude to the people of Zebulon who have made us a part of their family,’ she said. ‘I thank everyone who has done business with us and if there is anything we can do for the community, let us know. We want to help the community move forward and this is truly an honor. Thank you.’ McLeRoy Inc. was named the 2017 Large Business of the Year and the award was presented to Dee and Eric McLeRoy by Chamber board chairman Jason Brisendine. ’McLeRoy Inc. is a company that has been around for 46 years in Pike County and they have existed not only through difficult economic times, but have also experienced tremendous growth over the years,’ said Brisendine. ‘They believe in supporting the community and local economy. They have often been a drop off location for various charities and have spearheaded the Pick Your Pirate campaign to help local teachers with supplies needed for their classrooms. They were recently a drop off location for supplies and donations for victims of Hurricane Irma. The McLeRoy name is well known and respected in the community and they are one of the companies that stand out as ‘˜the face of Pike County.”

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