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Stone receives Newton Chamber's R.O. Arnold Award
Organization honors top residents, businesses at annual banquet
Phil Stone
From left, Buncie Hay Lanners, Phil Stone and Deon Gibbs pose for photos after Stone won the 2021 R.O. Arnold Award from the Newton Chamber of Commerce during its annual meeting and awards dinner Thursday, March 10, at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield. - photo by Tom Spigolon

MANSFIELD, Ga. — A longtime Newton County health care professional Thursday received what is considered one of the top awards given to those in the Newton County business community.

Phil Stone won the 2021 R.O. Arnold Award from the Newton Chamber of Commerce during its annual meeting and awards dinner Thursday, March 10, at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield.

Stone is the president of Longleaf Hospice & Palliative Care and former, longtime owner and operator of City Pharmacy drug store on the Covington Square.  

He told the crowd, “I’m totally honored, and I appreciate you recognizing me for this.”

“This is a wonderful place to live, and I feel like a big part of why it’s so wonderful is this organization of business leaders has just created a wonderful foundation and we benefit from that,” he said.

The R.O. Arnold Award is considered one of the county’s most prestigious awards. It is given to someone annually within the business community “who has continued to give back to our community,” according to the Newton Chamber of Commerce.

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. 

Stone told the hundreds in attendance that he knew Arnold.

“I didn’t expect this and I’m not sure I deserve it,” he said.

Deon Gibbs, a former Arts Association board member, and longtime Arts Association executive director Buncie Hay Lanners nominated Stone for the award for his longtime support for the organization.

Gibbs, who as a boy delivered prescriptions for Stone, said Stone and his family have contributed to the Arts Association and numerous other nonprofits and their church, Good Shepherd Episcopal, for years.

Stone began working as a teen as a soda jerk at the original City Pharmacy. He later earned a pharmacy degree from UGA and bought the business — which had been renamed Evans Drug Store — in 1977, according to information from City Pharmacy’s website.

After changing its name back to City Pharmacy, Stone worked as a pharmacist there until the late 1990s and was the last pharmacist for the business, the website stated. 

In addition, Stone operated Option Care, which provided medical equipment, respiratory services and home infusion services to 28 metro Atlanta counties with six locations for more than 20 years. In 2009, he opened Longleaf Hospice & Palliative Care in Covington.

His family still owns the landmark City Pharmacy building on the Covington Square and has operated a variety of businesses that have operated there since Stone purchased it 45 years ago. A restaurant now operates in the building under the name City Pharmacy.

The Chamber gave out four other awards Thursday, including:

• 2021 Dick James Small Business of the Year – Berry’s Tree Farm.

Berry’s Tree Farm’s 2021 accomplishments included winning the Reserve Grand Champion award in the National Christmas Tree Contest for a Murray cypress Christmas tree it grew on its 200-acre site in the Almon community.

The award earned it the right to have its award-winning tree erected in the home of Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington, D.C., for the holidays in 2021. Owner Chuck Berry and wife, Lori, made the 10-hour drive to the nation’s capital Nov. 24 to personally deliver the tree.

• 2021 Emerging Business – Covington Family Chiropractic, which Harper said had worked to help promote the chamber and helped the community through organizing food drives and grown throughout its history.

• 2021 Spirit of Excellence – Nwaka Hughes of the Newton County Board of Commissioners.

The award is given to a top chamber ambassador who volunteers at a variety of events for the organization.

Hughes was integral in organizing Newton County’s yearlong Bicentennial celebration which included such activities as free showings of movies shot in Newton County, roadside cleanup days countywide, and a concluding fireworks and music show on the Covington Square. 

She also was the Newton County Domestic Violence Task Force’s director for the “Walk a Mile in their Shoes” event in November which brought 100 walkers to the Square and donations of numerous supplies for victims of domestic violence.

• 2021 Deal of the Year – SKC Inc. for its planned expansion.

SKC Inc. announced in October it will create more than 400 new jobs as it works with several business partners to manufacture a part for semiconductor chips in a new facility at its Covington site on Hazelbrand Road. 

The company will invest more than $473 million to create glass-based substrates for the chips in Newton County, with production to begin by late summer 2023. 

The South Korea-based company began operations in Covington in 1999 to produce polyester PET film, which is used for everything from printing to food storage, according to its website.

Chamber members also watched the 2021 chairperson, Hunter Hall of Kelly Consulting, pass the gavel to 2022 chairperson David Kent of Piedmont Newton Hospital during the event.

Its newest board member is Ted Cummings of Onyx Media Services, while board members continuing from 2021 include:

• Jay Bailey of SteelCo;

• Joe DeCocco of Verescence North America;

• Cathy Dobbs of Berkshire Hathaway;

• Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent of Newton County School System;

• Louly Hay-Kapp of Covington YMCA;

• Barbara Morgan of Morgan Plaza;

• Tessa Nolan of Newton Federal Bank;

• Lanier Sims of DualDeko Marketing.