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Dean takes Chamber of Commerce gavel

By Neil B. McGahee

Managing Editor

The Board of Director’s 72nd Annual Cordele-Crisp County Chamber of Commerce meeting looked very different this year. Instead of in-person attendance by the directors, the awards presentation was recorded and will be televised on South Georgia TV, Channel 22 on Friday, April 2.

Outgoing Chamber Chair Marlene Kimball handed the gavel over to incoming Chair Doug Dean.

Dean, a partner in the Lawson, Reid and Dean law firm, presented some of his ideas for Crisp County’s economic future.

“First I would say that Cordele and Crisp County is a very big community,” he said. “There are many opportunities, not only for ourselves but for the benefit of all.”

But there is a lot of work to be done before the benefits may come.

“We have to get rid of the trash before we can do anything,” Dean said. “Another thing we have to address is the farmer’s market situation. The farmer’s market was in danger of being closed, but the state agreed to keep it open another year and the chamber is going to have some input in that process.

“Then we must face work force development. We have to attack both the reality and the perception that (our) people don’t work or they are lazy. Our high school is contributing with the development of the ‘7-Year-Work-Base Learning program. There are other things that the community is doing and the chamber wants to become more involved in these initiatives.”
Dean opened the awards ceremonies with his presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to A.J. Rivers, the first African-American to be elected to a city office, and whose

accomplishments include the Outstanding Citizen’s Award from the Peaceful Rider’s Club, the 8th District Community Award from the Georgia Municipal Association, the GMA Lifetime Achievement Award and many others.

Other award winners included Dean, the Volunteer of the Year and the Chairman’s Award to the late Edward Beach, former Cordele City Manager, who died last spring.

Crisp County High School anatomy teacher Jessica Gordon Young was awarded the Exceedingly Excellent Teacher Award for her work with “Enabling the Future,” a program that teaches high school students to use 3-D printers to make prosthetic hands.
Finally the winners of the Business of the Year Awards were Mike Fraser’s Auto Repair for small business, Mike Brown/State Farm Insurance for medium business and Big Tex Trailers, the Large Business of the Year.

Retiring directors Ben Wright and Steve Rentfrow were recognized for their contributions to the business community and volunteer Timothy Kilpatrick was awarded The President’s Award by Chamber President Monica Simmons “for his unhesitating willingness to work.”