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Newton County Bicentennial award winners named
K-9 Memorial
Attendees of We Ride to Provide's recent ceremony in Porterdale hold their memorials to fallen K-9 officers. (Special Photo | Lou Crouch)

COVINGTON, Ga. — A local pastor, a longtime community activist and a nonprofit that honors fallen police dogs were among winners of the county government's 2021 Bicentennial Awards.

Chairman Marcello Banes, the Newton County Board of Commissioners and its Bicentennial committees announced the winners Monday as part of the Bicentennial Celebration of the 200th anniversary of the county's founding. 

Winners will receive their awards during the Bicentennial Birthday Bash scheduled for Dec. 18 between 5 and 8 p.m. The award presentation is slated to begin at 6 p.m., officials said.

The awards were designed to "commemorate and recognize the work and legacy of local residents and Newton County businesses who reflect a high level of integrity, character, ethics, longevity in service and community commitment," a news release stated.

Award names and winners included: 

Bicentennial Award: Archie Shepherd

A description of the awards on the county's website stated the Bicentennial Award is a "citizenship award presented to an individual for acts of service to the community, kindness and good deeds. All Newton County citizens were eligible to be nominated."

Shepherd is president of the local chapter of National Action Network, which awards scholarships and school supply giveaways, among other events. It is a civil rights organization with almost 100 chapters nationwide. 

#OneNewton Award (tie): Dr. Laklieshia Izzard, Jackie Smith

The #OneNewton Award "acknowledges the significant positive impact of citizens who take positive steps to create a culture and climate of respect and inclusion, who value differences and find innovative ways to improve opportunities for the diverse communities we serve in six different municipalities. 

"This person would exemplify promoting the Newton County’s mantra of a 'Work, Live and Play' community. They epitomize our #OneNewton “daisy” logo: growing together in unity where each petal and blade of grass matters," the website stated.

Izzard is a Newton County-based licensed professional counselor who is active in the National Alliance on Mental Illness, among other organizations. Smith has served as county clerk since 1997.  

• Chairman's Award: the Rev. James T. Walden Sr.

The Chairman’s Award honors Newton County citizens or Newton County government employees who have performed services in the furtherance of the county’s goals and objectives, and for the recognition of exemplary actions and deeds by members of this county. It serves to honor those individuals with specific achievement. 

"Awarded at the discretion of the chairman of the Board of Commissioners, the award is a non-monetary prize designed to recognize the individual whose philanthropy, integrity, sacrifice and/or character is distinguished by a pattern of and/or a singular accomplishment and achievement. It is recognition of an exemplary actions and deeds by a citizen of Newton County," the county website stated.

Walden is pastor of Calvary Community Church and serves as a chaplain for the Newton County Sheriff's Office, among other duties.

He also is set to receive an "Unsung Hero" award from U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia.

Non-Profit Award: We Ride to Provide

The Non-Profit Award honors a 501C3 organization (excluding churches) that gives back/serves the community. 

We Ride to Provide organizes the country's only annual memorial event in Porterdale for fallen police dogs.

Hometown Business Award: Fletcher's Jewelry Inc.

The Hometown Business Award honors a business in Newton County that has been in operation for 30-plus years and is a staple in the community. 

Fletcher's Jewelry has operated on the Covington Square since 1932.