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Local rec volunteers win awards

COVINGTON - Two Newton County men have been recognized by the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials (NACPRO) for their volunteerism.

Newton County Recreation Board Vice Chairman Danny Stone has been named 2009 NACPRO Outstanding Public Official, and board member Flemmie Pitts has been named 2009 NACPRO Outstanding Volunteer. Both are national awards.

The two were nominated by the local Recreation Commission.

"I'm sure some great people were nominated. We were very fortunate to have two at the same time here," Recreation Commission Director Tommy Hailey said.

Stone has served on the Recreation Commission since 2001.

"When he was appointed to the Recreation Commission, it was a blessing to us, with him being a former commissioner and giving us a lot of guidance in what direction we might need to go in before we made the move to do it," Hailey said.

The Outstanding Public Official Award can go to an elected or appointed official. Hailey said Stone's status as a former county commissioner and involvement in a variety of organizations in the county likely played a part in his selection.

In addition to his service on the Recreation Commission, Stone is involved with Hands On Newton, Newton County United Way, Newton County Community Partnership, Newton County READS and is active in various chambers of commerce.

"Danny is a leader for securing recreation facilities and programs, green space and education through his volunteerism and elected positions throughout the tri-county area. He has the vision, persuasive power and community support to overcome obstacles that might hinder progress in these areas," the Recreation Commission's nomination letter states.

"I was extremely pleased to even be nominated and quite surprised to hear that I actually won. It's not me. We've got leadership and staff at the recreation department that makes the department second to none," Stone said.

Pitts is also a long-time member of the Recreation Commission, having served on the board since 1999.

"I knew Flemmie had the community at heart and the kids at heart. He's been a great board member, just a joy to work with," Hailey said.

In addition to serving on the Recreation Commission, for which he helped spearhead an ongoing renovation of the R.L. Cousins School football field and gym and classroom spaces.

"He listens to the community - their needs, their wants, and in particular, their dreams. He sees the community and has the ability to visualize future needs. Then, he quietly but quickly goes about bringing change for the citizens of Newton County," the commission's nominating letter states.

"I'm just glad to see the two of us on one board in Newton County (win). We've just got a good recreation department. They're doing a great job," Pitts said.

Hailey said he's glad two of the Recreation Commission's most dedicated supporters are getting some well-deserved recognition.

"They don't get paid. It's a volunteer service. I don't have a problem stepping up and nominating anybody. It's just our way of saying thank you to them," he said.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.