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HUBBARD: Best seat in the house

On Tuesday night, we — The Covington News — held our annual Visions Banquet to gather and celebrate local community members for their accomplishments over the last year. 

This was the seventh year our newspaper has done this and I have been a part of the last three occasions. This year, I had a more hands on role with this event and I had an absolute thrill. 

Approximately 50 people gathered at the Newton County Recreation Department Banquet Room to help honor the 2024 Visions award winners.

I served as the banquet’s emcee and, as such, I presented each honoree their award and accolades. It was a rewarding experience. 

You might even say I had the best seat in the house. 

One-by-one, each of this year’s recipients were announced and were greeted with a round of applause. Then, as they approached the podium, I had the distinct pleasure to shake each person’s hands and say, “Congratulations.” 

First, Dr. Kristian Shriver accepted Animal Medical of Covington’s Employer of the Year award. Then, our three Unsung Hero Award recipients — Fred Johnson, Lindsay Dycus and Johnny Edwards — were announced. 

Next, the team of Newton College and Career Academy students of Nevaeh Craven, Layla Crayon, Hulet Neely and Shania Stewart were recognized as the Youth of the Year. It is also the first time ever that a group of youth received the honor whereas, in previous years, it went to an individual. 

Last but not least, the top award of Community Spirit was awarded to the city of Covington fire department. Like the Youth of the Year, it marked the first time a department was awarded this honor. 

The reason I consider my place behind the podium the best seat in the house is because I got to shake hands with some dynamic individuals. 

These are people who have inspired me in many different ways and it was a privilege to be among greatness. 

What makes them great? I cannot give that away. Check out our 2024 Visions Magazine to know that information. No spoilers here. 

When you secure your copy and read about these amazing people, I know you all will be inspired by each of their stories. 

Not only have these winners been remarkable, but what they accomplished and what they represent goes hand-in-hand with our magazine’s theme as well. 

The 2024 Visions theme is “Better Together.” 

Overall, I hope readers will take away the importance of working together, Because, it is by being together that we’re closer, stronger and can better withstand when things pop up out of nowhere. 

So, yes, Newton County. We are better, but we are even better…together. 

Phillip B. Hubbard is managing editor of The Covington News. He can be reached at