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Our thoughts: Congratulations Chamber
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The Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce held its annual year-end banquet this past week.

A full house was present at Charley Elliot to see the chamber honor William ‘Billy” Fortson, Jr. with its highest honor: the R.O Arnold award.

Fortson, who has been the leader of local car dealership Ginn Motors for years, is in our opinion the perfect winner of this esteemed award.

He has run a business and kept it afloat during the most worst of economic times, preserving the jobs of many local breadwinners. During that time he has not only survived but he has also expanded his business.

He also has been a leader in groups like the Kiwanis and the Hospital Authority and has contributed his time and efforts to support almost every other non-profit in town.

We salute Billy Fortson. He truly represents the true spirit of the R.O Arnold award.

The Chamber continued to hit it out of the park as it picked Steve Kapp and Sunbelt Builders for its coveted Dick James Small Business of the Year award.

Sunbelt Builders was hit as hard as anybody during the great crash of 2008. At that time Newton County had more than its share of builders and developers, and when the crash happened most either folded or just went away. Steve and his company weathered the storm and continued to do first class quality work and today they are as strong and solid as ever. Their success is an example of a company that met adversity and adapted and survived.

We are fortunate to have Sunbelt Builders in our community; their success bodes well for our future.

The chamber again picked the right business for their Emerging Business of the year. The Mystic Grill built on a dream of owners Ronnie and Kelley Johnston and John and Angie Beszborn, and was certainly a challenge to build, but through the perseverance of the four owners it became a reality.

The Mystic Grill is more than a restaurant. Its creation opened up the door for the downtown Square to come alive. And because of the Mystic Grill’s presence and success, we have no doubt that more first-class restaurants will open and the Square will become a major night-time destination.

We admire courage and determination, and Ron, Kelly, John and Angie are filled with more than their share. We are proud that they have won this award; it was well deserved.

Last, and of course not least, Jimmy Tanner was awarded the Spirit of Excellence award — a great choice. Jimmy is just the type of guy that you can trust to accomplish any mission you might give him; his smile lights you up and his can-do attitude is a morale lifter.

Again, a great choice for a good guy.

The chamber also introduced some folks who are assisting the county with their brains, expertise and money to help the county grow. Very impressive.

Thanks, Chamber. Great job.