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Chamber of commerce hosting annual meeting at Charlie Elliott Center
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It's not too late to buy your tickets for The Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce's Annual Meeting this Thursday evening at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center.

The chamber's annual meeting is one of the highlights of the year for Newton County and this year looks to be no different with motivational speaker Dr. Earl Suttle scheduled to be the night's special guest speaker.

The night's festivities will also feature the announcement of this year's R.O. Arnold Award recipient.

Tickets are $55 and include dinner and two drinks.

Named after "Mr. Bob" Arnold, who with his wife, Florence, established The Arnold Fund, the R.O. Arnold Award is awarded to an individual who has shown significant service to the Newton County Community and has lived in the county for at least five years.

Arnold Award recipients are nominated by past recipients of the award and by past chairs of the chamber.

The nominees are then voted on together by the past recipients and chairs.

Last year's Arnold Award recipient was Betty Bellairs, chair of the Humane Society of Newton County.

 Two other awards will also be handed out Thursday night, the Dick James Small Business of the Year Award and the Spirit of Excellence Award.

Named after a former president of the chamber, the Small Business of the Year Award is nearly 10 years old and goes to one business in the county with 100 employees or less that has been in business for at least two years. In choosing the Small Business of the Year the judging panel gives points for staying power, the number of new employees, increase in sales, financial standing, innovation, response to adversity and involvement in the community.

According to Lisa Powell, director of programs for the chamber, the Spirit of Excellence Award goes to an individual who has "gone what we consider to be above and beyond normal volunteerism" for the chamber.

The recipient of the Spirit of Excellence Award is selected by staff at the chamber who take into account the number of chamber functions attended, monetary donations, hours spent volunteering with the chamber and the number of sponsors brought in.

The evening's speaker, Suttle is the CEO and founder of the Three E Corporation, an international training company based in Atlanta. According to his Web site, the company specializes in working with businesses and organizations to increase their profits and productivity through developing their employees.

Powell said the chamber decided to invite Suttle to speak after several executive board members recommended him after hearing one of his motivational lectures.

Thursday night will also mark the passing of the gavel from last year's chamber chair Marshall Ginn to this year's chair, Troy Brooks. Powell said the chamber will also recognize several outgoing board members.

Social time begins at 6:30 p.m. with dinner served at 7 p.m. Dinner will be catered by Tara Foods Elite Cuisine.

Call the chamber at (770) 786-7510 or go online at to order your ticket.