COVINGTON, Ga. — Wendell B. Crowe, longtime owner of Covington Ford, has been named the recipient of Newton County’s 2020 R.O. Arnold Award.
According to the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce, the R.O. Arnold Award is given to someone annually within the business community “who has continued to give back to our community.” It is also considered one of the county’s most prestigious awards.
“I appreciate it; it’s quite a honor,” Crowe said during a previously recorded presentation.
The award is named after Robert O. Arnold, who chamber president Debbie Harper described as a local business leader “who gave unselfishly of his time and resources to Newton County” throughout his life. Harper said she and others felt Crowe embodied attributes similar to Arnold, making him a perfect fit for the award in 2020.
“I think the spirit of the original idea behind Mr. Bob Arnold’s award is right here,” former state Rep. Denny Dobbs said, referencing Crowe.
Crowe is a lifelong resident of Newton County. He has owned the Covington Ford dealership since 1974, when he took the reins from his late father, Wendell W. Crowe. Covington Ford has been a staple of the city since it first opened in 1941. It was originally located just off the Covington Square on Clark Street. There, the Crowe family was limited to selling only used cars due to a lacking economy at the time.
The dealership was later moved to Highway 278, where it operated for 50 years until relocating to 9101 Dr. Martin Luther King Avenue in September 2011.
Crowe has spent time serving on numerous boards of civic organizations and volunteering his time across Newton County, Dobbs said, which included coaching youth sports and chairing the chamber board in 1973.
“You talk about community involvement and what business leaders mean to this community, this is it,” Dobbs said. “… And I know there’s a world of folks — a world of organizations that he’s helped that we won’t ever know about, because he don’t ever want the spotlight.”
Crowe was officially named the award winner during the chamber’s annual meeting Thursday, March 25, which was held virtually due to the pandemic’s constraints.
Following Crowe, Piedmont Newton Hospital CMO Dr. Norris Little was given the 2020 Light of the Community Award for his efforts in helping lead the community through the pandemic.
United Bank was named the 2020 Dick James Small Business of the Year.
The 2020 Spirit of Excellence was presented to Tammy Bailey, of Express Employment Professionals, as the chamber staff's Ambassador of the Year. She was called “a great cheerleader for the chamber and our community.”
The chamber also celebrated expansions and milestones of Beaver Manufacturing, Bridgestone Golf, Fibervisions and General Mills.
Past board chair Mark Ross, of Right at Home, passed the the gavel to new board chair Hunter Hall, of Kelly Consulting. New members of the chamber’s Board of Directors were announced, including Joe DeCocco, of Verescence North America, Jay Bailey, of SteelCo, Barbara Morgan, Morgan Plaza, and Lanier Sims, of DualDeko Marketing.