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Weadick wins top award at Chamber meeting

Staff photo by Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Jim Weadick, administrator of Newton Medical Center, walks to the podium Thursday night to accept the R.O. Arnold Award from the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce at their annual meeting at the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center. Considered to be the most prestigious honor a Newton County resident can receive, the award recognizes a lifetime of community involvement and achievement. Look for more coverage of the meeting in Sunday's Citizen and on line at www.newtoncitizen.com

Staff photo by Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Jim Weadick, administrator of Newton Medical Center, walks to the podium Thursday night to accept the R.O. Arnold Award from the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce at their annual meeting at the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center. Considered to be the most prestigious honor a Newton County resident can receive, the award recognizes a lifetime of community involvement and achievement. Look for more coverage of the meeting in Sunday's Citizen and on line at www.newtoncitizen.com

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Staff photo by Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith The Dick James Small Business Award was given to Chris and Teri Haler (center) of Current Events Productions. Making the presentation are (left) Chamber President Hunter Hall and (far right) Small Business Committee Chairman Ric Burnette. Founded in 2002, Current Events helps businesses utilize video marketing to create corporate training, DVD brochures, webmercials and more. The award is named in honor of the late Dick James, a long-time president of the Chamber of Commerce. It was created in 2000 to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of small businesses in Newton County.

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Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Terry Shigemasa,center, president of Nisshinbo Automotive Inc., accepts the Deal of the Year Award from Chamber President Hunter Hall and Danny Stone, chairman of the Newton County Industrial Development Authority.

MANSFIELD -- The top honor at the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting on Thursday night went to Jim Weadick, administrator and CEO of Newton Medical Center.

Weadick said he was surprised to win the R.O. Arnold Award, often described as the most prestigious honor a Newton County resident can receive. The award recognizes extraordinary community involvement and achievement.

"It's rare. I'm at a loss for words," said Weadick, who was presented the award by his friend and Newton Medical Center board member Billy Fortson. "I am extremely honored and flattered. I really and truly am. It's recognition from people I live with in the community."

Weadick said he's faced challenges every day with his job but, "I've never gotten up in the morning and said 'Oh, geeze, I have to go to work.' I've always looked forward to it. It's a lot of fun."

Weadick moved to Covington in 1984 to become administrator of the hospital. Under his leadership, Newton Medical Center has added numerous services, including the Women's Diagnostic Center, wound care, cardiac rehab, sleep lab, pain clinic, neonatal intensive care unit and digital mammography.

The number of employees has more than doubled to more than 800 and the facility has expanded from 140,000 square feet to more than 285,000 square feet in multiple facilities.

Weadick is a board member of Newton County United Way and a member of the Chamber's Economic Development Committee. He is also a former member and chairman of the Board of Directors for the Chamber; former board member of the Newton County Chapter of the American Red Cross; and the 2003 Honorary Chairman of Newton County Relay for Life.

Weadick and his wife Gerri have been active donors to the Newton Medical Center Auxiliary, hosting various fundraising events in their home.

Weadick is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives; the American Bar Association; Georgia Academy of Healthcare Attorneys; the Georgia Hospital Association Worker's Compensation Self-Insurance Fund; and is chairman of the Georgia Hospital Association's Recovery Audit Contractor Task Force.Small Business of the YearAlso honored at the Chamber meeting were Chris and Teri Haler of Current Events Productions, receiving the Dick James Small Business of the Year Award.

Founded in 2002, Current Events is a design and video agency specializing in print design, online media, video taping and editing services for individuals as well as businesses.

The Halers volunteer for various organizations, including Main Street Covington programs and Newton County Recreation, and are a Partner in Education with the Newton County School System.

In 2009, they received the Spirit of Excellence Award for their volunteer efforts with the Chamber. There they became involved with Tourism Advisory Council, the Ambassador Committee and the Small Business Committee. They were instrumental in the development of the Buy Local program, the wedding destination program and the creation of the Chamber's logo.Emerging Business AwardThis new award recognizes a business that has grown in a down economy or is new, reorganized, merged or under new ownership and highlights best practices of businesses that are succeeding. The inaugural winner was Jay Jaynes of Honda of Conyers.

Since Jaynes took over the car dealership in 2009, annual sales have doubled from 700 to 1,400. The tsunami that hit Japan and flooding in Thailand resulted in a decrease in inventory from 200 new cars to between 20 to 30.

"Making lemonade out of lemons, Jay has now become, according to Google sales analytics, the leader in used car sales from east of (Interstate) 285 all the way to Augusta," said Chamber President Hunter Hall.

Jaynes, a Newton resident, has been a sponsor of numerous local events, including the Fourth of July celebration in Porterdale; Covington Police Fuzz Run; Newton County Arts Association; holiday lighting on the Square; and Newton County Sheriff's Office cyber training.

Jaynes has also donated funds to families of deputies wounded in the line of duty; batteries for smart boards and money for paper to Middle Ridge Elementary School; and provided shuttle service for veterans to and from the VA Hospital, secured grave markers and paid utility bills for veterans. He used his ad agency to film World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans documenting their stories to be shown in local schools. Jaynes also offered $10 oil changes to furloughed state and federal workers.Deal of the YearAnother new award, the Deal of the Year, recognizes outstanding achievement in the location or expansion of new business processes in Covington/Newton County.

To be eligible, a company must have announced a project in 2011 and the project must meet community economic development goals and involve significant community, regional and/or state support.

The inaugural winner was Nisshinbo Automotive Manufacturing Inc. Nisshinbo added 49 full-time employees and nearly $2 million in additional payroll, taking advantage of Georgia's Quickstart Program through Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Nisshinbo also added $6 million in equipment, generating $200,0000 in additional annual property taxes, and leased an additional 44,000 square feet of storage space inside the county.Spirit of ExcellenceChamber staff members select the recipient of the Spirit of Excellence to show appreciation for a volunteer who has gone above and beyond in support of the Chamber.

The 2011 winner was Mike Petroff of Bizzy Bee Exterminator. A Chamber member since 2006, Petroff has been involved in the Chamber Champion and Ambassador programs; member and chair of Leadership Newton County; and is chair of the Golf Committee.