COVINGTON, Ga. - Covington Police Officer Matt Cooper received The Covington News Community Spirit Award as the newspaper celebrated its Visions magazine award winners with a reception Thursday at the Reserve at Hendricks.
Newton High School and Newton College and Career Academy sophomore James Wilson was named the Youth of the Year. Denny Dobbs, Stevanie Reynolds and Gary Stevenson were named Unsung Heroes and Georgia Piedmont Technical College was named the Employer of the Year.
All winners are featured in the 2019 “Visions” magazine, which is inserted in this weekends’ newspaper.
The News Editor and Publisher Jackie Gutknecht presented the awards as part of the paper’s celebration of its annual project.
“You don’t have to be in Covington for very long to get the feeling that you’re at home,” she said. “This year’s theme of ‘One Newton’ shows how our community leaders are working to continue to build a place we can all be proud of. In the magazine you’ll get in this weekend’s paper, we explain how schools, businesses and leaders are working together with this one common goal.”
Gutknecht congratulated Cooper on dedication to service and his commitment to protecting his hometown.
“Our Community Spirit Award winner was just doing his job,” she said. “While many of us were gearing up for bar-be-ques and spending the day with our families, he got up, put on his uniform and went to work. Matt Cooper risked his life for his hometown that day.”
Unable to attend Thursday’s event due to scheduled therapy appointments, Cooper’s father, Coley Cooper accepted the award on his behalf.
Matt Cooper: Community Spirit Award 2019
Wilson was selected as this year’s Youth of the Year for his continued dedication to go beyond the classroom to make sure he is getting the most out of his Newton County experience.
“I can’t promise that I’ll be in Covington my whole life, but I can promise that if I do leave, I will leave some type of positive impact,” Wilson said.
Dobbs has been in Newton County his entire life and giving back was just what he was raised to do.
“With a lifetime of service to Newton County, Denny is now looking to the future and looking to mold the next generation of community leaders. It is that continued dedication and commitment to betterment that made him an easy selection for this award,” Gutknecht said.
Reynolds said she felt she was just doing what she thought she was supposed to do and was honored to be named one of this year’s Unsung Heroes for her work with Piedmont Newton Hospital.
“She is the director of impatient nursing at Piedmont Newton Hospital. While that would be enough to fill the plate of any normal person, that’s not all she does,” Gutknecht said. “Whether it is cheering on her five children, volunteering at a local clinic, speaking at Georgia State University, providing local industries with health tips or attending support groups with patients, the workload this honoree volunteers herself for would make the average person exhausted.”
Stevenson is currently the longest-serving Alcovy Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children. Through his work with CASA, he helps guide children through the confusing world of the foster care system.
“As someone who grew up in a home with two loving parents, I never thought of the challenges that children face in the foster care system on a daily basis. These challenges can be confusing for adults, so imagining what it must be like for a child is overwhelming,” Gutknecht said. “That’s where our next unsung hero steps in.”
GPTC President Dr. Tavarez Holston, who accepted the award for GPTC, said it was an honor to be named this year’s Employer of the Year.
“This year’s employer of the year is a little different for us,” Gutknecht said. “Fitting into that ‘One Newton’ theme, not only does this business have a large footprint within Newton County and employs many of our residents, it also works to make sure there is a quality workforce for the rest of us. Whether it is opening its doors to area companies for a regional job fair or helping local residents obtain a certification, this business is working to serve the community in any way it can.”