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Lanners, others honored by chamber of commerce
0124CHAMBER buncie landers r.o. arnold award
Buncie Lanners - photo by Bryan Fazio

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Randy Reeves
By: staff_report2

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It was a banner night for the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce at the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center Tuesday evening, with awards going to several business men and women throughout Newton County.

The night’s biggest honoree was the Arts Association in Newton County’s Director, Buncie Hay Lanners, who received the R.O. Arnold Award. The R.O. Arnold is given annually to a Newton County resident who contributes to his or her community. Lanners has done just that through her work with the arts, introducing hundreds of Newton County children to music, dance, drawing, painting and other forms of creative expression.

Louise Adams, a former recipient of the R.O. Arnold Award, described Lanners as having excellent leadership skills, a thirst to help others and a big heart.

“She is like a wildflower blooming everywhere in Covington and Newton County ever year,” Adams said. “Her enduring spirit does not give up.”

The presentation of a crystal vase to Lanners capped off an evening of several awards given out by the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce, the election of new board members, a few words from Georgia’s Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and dinner.

Other award recipients were Next Play Promotions for the Dick James Small Business of the Year; Precision Locksmith for the Emerging Business Award; Dawn Dalton of Bridgeway Hospice for the Spirit of Excellence Award; Navin Shah for Deal of the Year; Phillip Hight, Shah, John Crow and Dan Mahoney, Harry Kitchen, Jerry Silvio and Esther Williams; and Randy Jackson and Corinne Hodges for the Office of Economic Development Partners of Excellence awards.

Josh Fuller, Kevin Rollins and Adam Parker accepted the Dick James Small Business honor recognizing a business that shines in staying power, growth, innovation, and being a salesperson for Newton County.

Their business, Next Play, is a full service promotional advertising company, operating around the nation, providing promotional products, corporate apparel, executive gifts and more to clients.

Originally based in Conyers, Next Play moved to Newton County in 2014 and has seen a 30 percent year over year growth for five straight years.

“It is a great honor,” Fuller said. “Things have been great since moving offices to Newton County. It’s been great getting to know the Covington community.”

Other business owners who have been busy getting to know the community are James and Tracy Barthelemy of Precision Locksmith.

Precision Locksmith earned the Emerging Business Award for providing valued service while advancing best business practices. To earn the Emerging Business Award, a business must be in operation less than three years.

In August of 2014 Precision Locksmith opened a storefront on the Covington Square, and have been doubling their annual sales every year.

“I visited here in 2006, and walking around the Square I said this is a place I could do a lot of good work in,” James Barthelemy said.

Dalton has done a lot of good work for the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce, and was named its volunteer of the year, or Spirit of Excellence Award.

Dalton has been a member of the chamber for more than 10 years, working on several committees, including Main Street Promotion, the golf tournament and Taste of Newton.

“She was very instrumental in revamping our Chamber Ambassador Committee in 2006 and continues to be active on that committee reaching out to new members, renewing memberships and is a common face at chamber ribbon cuttings,” Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce President Ralph Staffins said. “There are not many events the Chamber hosts that Dawn is not in attendance and/or participating in.”

The final award given out at Charlie Elliott was to Shah for his work in developing the Holiday Inn Express, which recently started construction. The hotel is Shah’s second in Newton County, bringing with it $14 million in investment and 75 employees.

“Royal Hotel Investments has invested more than $20 million in our community and created over 150 jobs. This is a continuation of hospitality and service that has defined Covington to five star accommodations,” said Serra Hall, Newton County Director of Commercial Development. “There is never a moment that I can’t lean on Mr. Shah and his team — his faith in his staff and the community make him a pleasure to work with for years. His can-do attitude and structure for hospitality make his business model work successfully.”

The honorees were part of what helped make 2015 a successful year for the chamber of commerce, which was recognized by the State Chamber Association as one of 50 certified chambers in the state. The Newton chamber also grew its membership by more than 20 percent in 2015, with 86 new members joining.