Bill Loeble has devoted much of his life to improving the lives of others at every stage of development, from young men learning responsibility and nature skills, to college students preparing for a bright future, to manufacturing laborers earning a steady wage and providing for their families.
For a lifetime of hard work and community service, Loeble was given the R.O. Arnold Award, one of Newton County’s most prestigious honors, at Thursday’s annual meeting of the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce.
Loeble’s bio contains a laundry list of leadership positions for local, state and national organizations, including his beloved Boy Scouts of America, as well as his church, his alma mater and a handful of local nonprofits. And on top of all of that, he helped transform local Mansfield industry Beaver Manufacturing from a regional provider of industrially treated yarn into a global force.
“He is an outstanding community leader as well as a businessman, and he has contributed so much to local, state and national organizations,” friend Lee Aldridge Thursday said before the ceremony. “He has really made an impact on the business and industry in Newton County.”
Loeble was nominated by past R.O. Arnold winners Jerry and Lee Aldridge and Nonie Needham, whose late husband Ed founded Beaver Manufacturing.
Loeble is the president of the board of directors of the Arts Association in Newton County, is on the executive committee of the Miracle League of Newton County, is an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Covington, helped recruit Georgia Perimeter College to the county, has served on the chamber’s board of directors and economic roundtable, and has received some of the highest honors available to Scouts, including the Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope.
“He is very dependable. When he says something, that could be written down as law, because what he says he will do, he will do,” Lee Aldridge said. “He loves the Lord, loves working in his church and loves being part of the growing religious community in Newton County.
“He is a very kind man. He’s understanding. He’s like a gentle giant. He is real.”
Loeble retired in December after a 20-year career as Beaver’s vice president and chief operating officer, during which the company grew from 90 to 140 employees and from one manufacturing plant to three.
Loeble and his wife, Diane, have a daughter, Janet, and a son, Dexter.
The chamber gave out several other awards Thursday night.
• Mystic Falls Tours, “The Vampire Diaries” tour company run by Jessica Lowery, was named the small business of the year.
Finding herself an unemployed paraprofessional after cuts at the Newton County School System, Lowery started blogging about “The Vampire Diaries” and realized the show’s growing popularity could be turned into a business opportunity. Her company now does several tours most weeks, for dozens of visitors from throughout the United States and the world.
• Right at Home, an in-home caregiver company, received the Emerging Business award.
Mark and Dr. Nicole Ross opened the local Covington franchise in 2012, and it has grown to 70 part-time employees.
• Newton Federal employee Greg Proffitt received the Spirit of Excellence award for his five years of service to the chamber’s executive board as its financial director and treasurer.
Chamber President Hunter Hall said Proffitt spends many hours each year working on budgets for the chamber’s small business, tourism and economic development arm and was active in helping to shape chamber policy.
•The Deal of the Year was awarded to the Newton College and Career Academy and its principal, James Woodard, for earning a Ford Next Generation Learning grant, which will help the academy expand courses and programs.
The academy is central to the county’s efforts to improve its workforce, said James Johnson, the chamber’s director of existing industry and workforce development.