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Hometown hero
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Two years ago, we began to run a new series of stories designed to honor local folks for something special they had done, whether out of the ordinary or in their everyday life, to make their community a better or brighter place.

Over the years, we've highlighted several of these "Hometown Heroes," and one our of biggest community heroes, General Mills, has been a fantastic partner in recognizing these people's accomplishments.

For the second straight year, we came to the difficult task of choosing one person to be our Hometown Hero of the year for 2011.

We asked you, these heroes' neighbors and friends, to help us choose the top three candidates, while a team from General Mills and The News had the tough choice of choosing the final winner.

This morning, we held a low-key breakfast at Town House Café on Washington Street, an atmosphere we felt was fitting for honoring these everyday heroes. Once again the winner received a unique plaque and a basket of healthy goodies from General Mills.

Just like last year's winner, mother to multiple special needs children Kelli Hopkins, our three finalists for this year's award were special women: Pam Dew, Terri Kimble and Sylvia Shy.

We're proud to select Pam Dew as this year's Hometown Hero. Dew is a physical education teacher and was the coordinator of the Newton County Special Olympics for 23 years before retiring last year.

We honor all three of our finalists; check out today's dedicated section, for their special spirit and dedication to making our community a grand place to live.