Our Town Hero

The OurTown Hero Award is presented by Swainsboro’s City Council and Mayor in honor of an outstanding citizen who has shown leadership, self-sacrifice, or great distinction in serving or representing the Swainsboro community. The City Council presents these honors on the first Monday of each month during the regularly scheduled City Council Meeting at City Hall. To nominate someone for the OurTown Hero Award, please complete the OurTown Hero Nomination Form and return it to Swainsboro City Hall.

Meet “OurTown Hero”

Pastor Christine Peebles

Pastor Christine Peebles was named the recipient of the OurTown Hero Award at the March 2021 meeting of Swainsboro City Council. A minister for 40 years, she has pastored Victory Temple Ministry of Reconciliation for the last 23 years. Pastor Peebles has touched many lives in and beyond Swainsboro. From helping those in need throughout the community, to inspiring others worldwide through her published books, Pastor Peebles has helped countless people. Of recent note, Pastor Peebles partnered with Crider Foods in coordinating two community food giveaways. She rallied 98 churches to participate in the distribution of more than 40,000 pounds of chicken and other necessities to help community members in need. 

Mr. Perry “Raymond” Riner

Mr. Raymond Riner was presented with the OurTown Hero Award at the January 2021 meeting of Swainsboro City Council. Mr. Riner is known for his work in  helping individuals and families overcome alcoholism and addiction. From his service on the Board of Directors of Bridges of Hope to his role in establishing “Swainsboro Crossroads,” which consists of four recovery houses, Mr. Riner has helped countless people break the chains of addition. As a member of the Georgia National Guard, Mr. Riner served in the Korean Conflict. He worked at the Central Bank for 12 years and at Perry’s Open Air Market and Perry’s Auto Auction with his father, becoming owner of the auction in 1962.

2015 Dixie Youth League Coach Pitch State Champs

DYLMayor Charles Schwabe and Swainsboro City Council recognized the 2015 Dixie Youth League Coach-Pitch All-Stars as OurTown Heros at the September 2015 Swainsboro City Council meeting. The team secured the DYL Georgia AA Coach Pitch State Championship in July, earning a spot in the DYL World Series in Myrtle Beach, SC representing the state of Georgia. The team was led by coaches Billy Lively and Billy Chapman.

Mr. Mason OglesbyOglesby & Schwabe_cropped

Mason Oglesby became the youngest recipient of the OurTown Hero Award in May 2015. Shortly before his seventh birthday, Mason learned of a litter of abandoned puppies that had been taken in by the Emanuel County Animal Shelter. The story touched Mason’s heart, and upon his own reflection that he had “too many toys,” he decided to ask for donations for the local animal shelter for his birthday in lieu of traditional presents. Word of Mason’s birthday wish spread and by the time his birthday party approached, he had filled the bed of his grandfather’s pickup truck with food and treats for the animals at the shelter. Along with his grandparents, Mason personally delivered the donations to the shelter, taking the time to visit and share a treat with each pet.

Miss Ansley Smith

Ansley Smith OurTown HeroAnsley Smith was presented with the OurTown Hero Award at the March 2, 2015 meeting of Swainsboro City Council. Ansley is an active volunteer within the community, often working to take up donations for the local animal shelter and collect items for victims of home fires. She has assumed a leadership role with the Weekend Blessings backpack food program that provides meals and snacks to school aged children on weekends and during school breaks. Ansley devotes several days each week toward preparing bags for the program which currently feeds more than 170 local children on a weekly basis. She gathers bags and organizes them by school a few days before “packing day,” which takes place each Wednesday afternoon at the office of East Georgia Realty, her father’s business. During this process, she is joined by other volunteers, including Angel Lane and Courtney Wells, who began the local program. The homeschooled senior plans to obtain her real estate license after turning 18 years old and attend Georgia College & State University to major in Business. Upon graduation, she looks forward to a career in property management. Ansley is the daughter of Ricky and Renee Smith and the granddaughter of Harvey and Bobby Jean Meeks, and Martha Cameron.

Mr. Jerry CadleJerry Cadle

Jerry Cadle was named the City of Swainsboro’s OurTown Hero on February 2, 2015. Cadle has been an integral part of the revitalization efforts in downtown Swainsboro. Through his involvement with the Swainsboro Jaycees, he rallied a group of members to initiate an economic development project in downtown through the renovation of the Courtyard on Green Street. The project garnered the local club a national economic development award. Since that initial project, Cadle has been involved in renovations on all four sides of the Square, and he manages the repairs, maintenance, landscaping, and bookkeeping on many of the properties with his only compensation coming from the satisfaction of knowing that downtown Swainsboro is being revitalized.  Cadle held the position of Chairman of the Downtown Development Authority from 2007 until December 31, 2014. During his tenure the DDA implemented many new downtown events, provided plans for seasonal decorations, began a façade grant program, developed the Main Street Market, and much, much more. Cadle has served as President of the Swainsboro-Emanuel County Chamber of Commerce, President of the Swainsboro Exchange Club, President of the Emanuel County 4-H Foundation, Treasurer of the Emanuel Arts Council, Chairman of the East Georgia College Foundation, and Chairman of the City of Swainsboro’s Planning Commission. As a member of the Emanuel County Commissioners, Cadle was active in planning the new Emanuel County Court House and the renovation of the downtown Square and fountain. In addition, he played an active role in the development of a number of local residential neighborhoods, including Country Acres, Marlow Plantation, Deer Creek, and Swainsboro Oaks. Cadle and his wife, Paula, have three children – Ivy and wife Leslie, of Macon; Don and wife Deana, of Savannah; and Jean Marie and husband Neil Hunter, of Swainsboro. They are also the proud grandparents of Jolene Cadle.

Beta Sigma Phi – Kappa Omega Chapter

OurTown HeroThe local Kappa Omega chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, an international women’s philanthropic organization, was recognized with the OurTown Hero Award at the December 1, 2014 meeting of Swainsboro City Council. The organization is widely recognized within the community as a leading contributor to many local organizations, projects, and initiatives. Of note is the club’s “hay bale project” which involves placing large hay bales throughout the community and decorating them in celebration of holidays such as Halloween and Christmas. The hay bales are sponsored by local businesses, organizations, and individuals and the funds raised through the project are used to provide Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to more than 80 local families in need, as well as Christmas gifts for more than 100 local children. In addition to the hay bale project, the club makes monthly contributions to local organizations and sponsors two $1,000 college scholarships that are available to students at Georgia colleges and universities who have a background in community service in Emanuel County.

Mr. Bonnie OgburnOgburn & Schwabe

Mr. Bonnie Ogburn was presented with the OurTown Hero Award at the October 6, 2014 meeting of Swainsboro City Council. A native of Laurens County, Mr. Ogburn served in the Merchant Marines and in the US Army’s 88th Infantry Division’s 313th Medical Battalion in Italy. After his return in 1947, Mr. Ogburn moved to Swainsboro to manage the Sims Store. Upon moving to Emanuel County, he joined the First Baptist Church where he served as deacon, Sunday School teacher and superintendent, trustee, brotherhood chairman, and organizer of the greeter program, among other duties. He also served on the Emanuel County Board of Education for 8 years, holding the title of Chairman for a portion of that time, and is a past president of the Swainsboro Exchange Club. Having managed the local Piggly Wiggly supermarket for 27 years, Mr. Ogburn grew to be known as “Mr. Piggly Wiggly” to many youngsters of the time. In 1968, he purchased a tract of land on Old Wadley Road and formed Ogburn Subdivision, in which he constructed approximately 200 homes. As he was constructing the homes Mr. Ogburn decided to open his own hardware store, so in 1975 he opened Ogburn Hardware on East Main Street which he operated until August 2014. Mr. Ogburn stated that his mission in life has been to help people, quoting a line from poet Sam Walter Foss, “Let me live in my house by the side of the road, and be a friend to man.” Mr. Ogburn was married to the late Eloise Veal Ogburn for 66 years. They had three children, Lee Ogburn, Patti Ogburn Hall, and the late Franky Ogburn.

Mr. Gary Hackett

FR Hackett OurTown HeroGary Hackett, the owner of Inspirations Barber Shop, Pastor of Jesus Christ Ministries, and founder of One Unity Youth Center was presented with the OurTown Hero Award at the September 8, 2014 meeting of Swainsboro City Council. The native of Swainsboro was living and working in Orlando when he was discovered by NBA great Dwight Howard. It was then that Hackett moved to California to barber and conduct devotional services for Howard and his friends.  “My whole world was changed through the mentoring that I did while I was in LA,” stated Hackett. “I felt like I found my purpose.” When Hackett returned to Swainsboro, he noticed a need for mentoring in his hometown. After opening Inspirations Barber Shop, he started One Unity Youth Center which is located adjacent to the barber shop on West Main Street in downtown Swainsboro. The youth center offers tutoring and mentoring services while assisting with the life development of Swainsboro’s youth.

Mrs. Lisa DaileyLisa Dailey Cropped

Lisa Dailey was presented the OurTown Hero Award at the August 4, 2014 meeting of Swainsboro City Council. Dailey spearheaded a fundraising campaign to assist Ms. Louise Hancock in obtaining a new wheelchair when her existing chair malfunctioned. Hancock, who was diagnosed with Polio at age 4, relies on the custom-made wheelchair to carry on her life as normal, including allowing her to work as a greeter at Swainsboro’s Walmart. Dailey set out with a goal of raising the $7,000 required to purchase Ms. Hancock’s new wheelchair. With tremendous community support, including radio interviews on WXRS, articles in the Forest-Blade, and flyers that were posted in local businesses, Dailey met her goal in just under two months. “The way the community pulled together makes me so proud to be from Swainsboro and Emanuel County,” said Dailey.  Dailey is the owner of Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio in Swainsboro. She is a native of Emanuel County, the wife of Kelvin Dailey, and the mother of Marshall and Austin Williamson.

Mr. Johnny Peebles

Johnny PeeblesMayor Charles Schwabe and Swainsboro City Council honored Mr. Johnny Peebles with the award at Council’s April 7, 2014 meeting. Mayor Schwabe commented, “[Mr. Peebles] has been an inspiration to all of us for his dedication to what he believes.” The Swainsboro native has conducted a sign ministry for many years. He is a member of the Kite Church of God and the son of the late George L. and Christine Peebles, and the grandson of the late Callaway Moore.

“I know that there are many times that I’ve failed the Lord, but I know he loves me still,” commented Peebles.

First Responders

City of Swainsboro First Responders

The City of Swainsboro First Responders were presented with the OurTown Hero Award by Mayor Charles Schwabe and Swainsboro City Council at the March 3, 2014 City Council meeting. Swainsboro and the surrounding community were affected by an ice storm that descended on the area February 12 – February 14. Mayor Schwabe commented that he was amazed by the response of the First Responders, adding that it was a unique experience that could not be adequately trained for.

Mr. Henry Thompson

Thompson & Mayor SchwabeHenry Thompson was presented with the City of Swainsboro’s OurTown Hero Award for the month of December 2013. A graduate of Swainsboro High School, Thompson served four years in the Air Force and an additional 24 years with the Georgia Air National Guard. He is a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Commander of the Sons of the American Legion Squadron #103. Thompson was instrumental in the Veterans Memorial Wall project at Pine Brook Park. He is married to Deborah Thompson and they have three daughters and nine grandchildren.

Ms. Dorothy “Dot” West

At the September 9, 2013 meeting of Swainsboro City Council, Mayor Charles Schwabe presented the OurTown Hero Award to Dorothy “Dot” West. West was born and raised in Emanuel County, but moved to South Carolina with her husband Robert West, Sr., as they pursued their careers. West returned to Swainsboro in 1992 as a widow and has since become part of the fabric of the community. A member of Swainsboro First United Methodist Church, West belongs to the 55 Alive group as well as the United Methodist Women which administers the church’s thrift shop at the Boneyard. As a UMW member, West can often be found volunteering at the thrift shop. West is known for going above and beyond in helping others in the community  – from providing transportation to doctor’s appointments to going out of her way to make someone’s day brighter. West has four children, Elizabeth Gilmer, Billy West, Jimmy West, and the late Bobby West. She also has nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

2012-2013 EGSC Men’s Basketball Team

At its regular scheduled May meeting, Swainsboro City Council and Mayor Charles Schwabe honored the 2012-2013 East Georgia State College Men’s Basketball Team as the City of Swainsboro’s OurTown Heroes. In presenting the award, Mayor Charles Schwabe acknowledged the individual players and coaches whose hard work has brought great recognition not only to themselves and East Georgia State College, but also to the community. The 2012-2013 East Georgia State College Bobcats men’s basketball squad turned heads in its third year of competition as it captured the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association Championship which it followed with a quarterfinal appearance in the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament in Kansas.

City Administrator Al Lawson pointed out that though the city is proud of the team’s athletic accomplishments, the City Council wanted to commend the team even more for its demeanor off of the court. Head coach Neil Bailey accepted the award on behalf of the team, commending the players for their hard work and dedication in representing their school. The Bobcats’ successful 2012-2013 season included an impressive 31-3 overall record which featured a stand of 17 undefeated home games.

The 2012-2013 East Georgia State College Men’s Basketball Team, which was in attendance for the City Council meeting, includes Jon Blair (Hinesville, GA), Corinthians Brown (Augusta, GA), Larry Bullock (Rome, GA), Brian Byrd (Mount Vernon, GA), Deion Craig (Augusta, GA), Da’Vanon Felder (Hinesville, GA), Tre’ Hagood (Pensacola, FL), Jordan Johnson (Hinesville, GA), Marcus Mikell (Statesboro, GA), Alex Reid (Savannah, GA),  Brian Pearson (Monroe, GA), Stetson Smith (Sandersville, Georgia), Jaquavious Tennyson (Milledgeville, GA), Jalen Watson (Hinesville, GA), Tommy Williams (Augusta, GA), and Leslie McMillian, Manager (Augusta, Georgia).

Ms. Joan Dunn

Joan Dunn, recipient of the OurTown Hero Award for the month of April, is a native of Michigan. After marrying and living in nearly a dozen different environments ranging from Maine to Saudi Arabia to Virginia to England, she and her family settled in Swainsboro approximately 25 years ago. Because of Dunn’s frequent relocations, she never really connected to a community, but as her family settled into Swainsboro, she began to get involved in community projects through her love for art. That involvement then grew past art-based projects and she was soon volunteering with a variety of civic organizations and events. Dunn’s involvement has included Swainsboro Pilot Club, Swainsboro Garden Club, Special Olympics and Relay For Life, and she served as Director of Keep Emanuel Beautiful for 16 years. She has held a lengthy tenure on the Emanuel Arts Council Board of Directors serving multiple roles and currently holds the title of “Empress” of the Emanuel Artists Guild. Dunn is the Market Manager of the Main Street Market at the Boneyard where she also established the Live Oak Arts Gallery, the Main Street Jam monthly musical performances, the Artists Café arts workshops, and where she has organized several art strolls and exhibits.

Miss Sarah Jane McKay

At its March 4, 2013 meeting, Swainsboro City Council recognized its youngest OurTown Hero to date – 8 year-old Sarah Jane McKay. McKay is a third grader at Swainsboro Elementary School who enjoys playing in the mud, climbing trees, and watching television. She looks forward to becoming a teacher when she grows up.  McKay was nominated for the OurTown Hero award by Swainsboro Police Detective Richard Peacock after he witnessed McKay voluntarily cleaning up graves in the Swainsboro City Cemetery. “As an officer, I typically see the bad, but as I watched this little girl go through the cemetery cleaning up one grave after another it was uplifting to me, it gave me hope,” said Det. Peacock. Sarah Jane had ridden to the cemetery with her neighbor that day. “I just saw some flowers knocked over, so I decided to pick them up. Then there were more, so I picked them up too,” said McKay. She eventually made her way through the entire city cemetery picking up litter and straightening flowers.  “As you are out there doing something good, it doesn’t matter who is watching, because you are doing it for the right reasons. We are proud of you,” said Mayor Schwabe.

Mr. Ronnie Womack

Ronnie Womack was recognized as the OurTown Hero at the February 4, 2013 meeting of Swainsboro City Council. A native of Garfield, Georgia, Womack is a graduate of Emanuel County Institute and Georgia Southern University. Embarking on retirement as Director of the Swainsboro-Emanuel County Recreation Department, Womack has been employed by the department for 38 years. Over the years Womack has worked with thousands of children as they have grown from playing T-ball to now watching their kids run the bases during their own games. “I have enjoyed, first and foremost, the people I work with…but also the kids. I love to see the kids growing up. That’s what makes this job worthwhile, when the kids come back and thank you for being there for them through the years,” he said. Womack thanks the community for its support over the years, noting that he will miss the public interaction that the position involved. Though Womack has no formal plans for retirement, he looks forward to spending time with his wife, Vikki, a retired teacher, sons Ron and Tyler, and grandchildren Briley, Cade, Cal, and Kinsley.

Mr. Billy Dawson

Billy Dawson was recognized as the City of Swainsboro’s OurTown Hero at the September 10, 2012 meeting of Swainsboro City Council. A lifelong resident of Swainsboro, Dawson found himself earning “hero status” as he witnessed a purse-snatching as he passed by a local parking lot. Dawson responded by abandoning his running car in the middle of the street and chasing the offender on foot until another passerby provided assistance in stopping and retaining the offender until police officers arrived on the scene. Thanks to Dawson’s heroic actions, the victim’s belongings were recovered and the offender was apprehended.

“[Dawson] demonstrates the purest form of heroism,” said Mayor Charles Schwabe.

“I admire his heroism,” added Swainsboro Police Chief Randy Ellison. “I wish we had more citizens like him.”

Mrs. Lynda Morgan

Lynda F. Morgan was recognized as the City of Swainsboro’s OurTown Hero at the August 6, 2012 meeting of Swainsboro City Council. A board member of non-profit community medical facility East Georgia Healthcare since 1998, a Morgan has served as the board’s chairperson for the last decade. Morgan has held a position on the Southeastern Technical College Foundation for more than eight years, including her current role as Chairperson of the Board. She also currently serves as Chairperson of the Franklin Memorial Library Friends of the Library Board, which she has been involved with for many years. As a long-time member of Swainsboro First Baptist Church, Lynda has served on various committees within the church. She is also a member and past president of the Emanuel County Pilot Club. Lynda and Husband David have one daughter and son-in-law, Melinda and Jeff Johnson, and three granddaughters, Abby, Emily, and Claire.

“Lady Rattlers” 1958 State Championship Basketball Team

The Emanuel County Elementary and High School “Lady Rattlers” 1958 basketball team was recognized by Swainsboro Mayor and City Council as the July 2012 OurTown Heroes.  The Lady Rattlers accomplished a once-in-a-lifetime feat by winning both the 1958 region basketball championship and state basketball championship. The historic achievement, however, went unrecognized by the Georgia High School Association for 54 years, until a recent push by local supporters resulted in both wins being added to the GHSA record books. Though the region championship trophy has been recovered, the team has yet to locate its state championship trophy.

The 1958 championship team consisted of members Christine Quarterman (Captain), Bonnie R. Moore, Anna L. Oliphant, Martha Lawrence (Co-Captain), Ada B. Williams, Anna L. Moring, Earnestine Handsome, Mary Jackson, Barbara Fullard, Mariyn Warren, Betty Wadley, Mary Habersham, Mary Lawrence, and Myrtle Gupple (Coach).

“Winning the championship was a happy, joyous, exhilarating occasion for our team,” said Christine Quarterman, captain of the championship team.

Mr. Mike Lisenby

At its June 4, 2012 meeting, Swainsboro City Council presented Mike Lisenby with the City’s coveted OurTown Hero Award. A native of Macon and lifelong resident of Georgia, Lisenby and wife Nancy moved to Nancy’s hometown of Swainsboro after his retirement from ING Investment Management in Atlanta. A chess player since age 12, Lisenby had often thought of moving to Swainsboro and teaching local children the game of chess. Upon his retirement and relocation to Swainsboro, Lisenby began pursuit of that notion in August 2011. Lisenby worked with the Emanuel County Board of Education, Swainsboro Exchange Club, PTO groups, individuals, businesses, and the Mill Creek Foundation in receiving financial support totaling nearly $4,000. Using the funds, he purchased a perpetual software license for “Think Like A King” chess instruction software for three of four participating Swainsboro schools.  Lisenby’s efforts have resulted in the introduction of chess instruction at all Swainsboro public schools and Twin City Elementary School, with more than 100 students participating in the instruction. During the course of the initial chess year the Emanuel County Schools won a total of 11 school trophies and one individual trophy at a chess tournament held in Statesboro which featured many public and private schools from around the region.  Lisenby continues to work toward advancing the game of chess in Swainsboro and Emanuel County as he plans to offer instruction for both children and adults through East Georgia State College’s Sudie A. Fulford Center. Lisenby sees the game of chess as a tool to “foster interaction among parents and kids in a positive manner.” The Lisenbys have two children, son Joe of Savannah, and daughter Jamie Anna of Baltimore, MD.

Mr. Sid Shepherd

Sidney “Sid” B. Shepherd was honored as the City of Swainsboro’s OurTown Hero for the month of May by Mayor Charles Schwabe and the Swainsboro City Council. Shepherd has served as the City Attorney in Swainsboro for 50 years, getting his start in the state’s legal council office in Atlanta as legal assistant to George L. Smith. Shepherd developed a bond with Smith and subsequently moved to Swainsboro in November 1961 to join Smith and Dennis Williams in their law practice. That same month, Shepherd attended his first meeting of the Swainsboro City Council as a member of the law practice that represented the City of Swainsboro. Shepherd is a member of the Emanuel County Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the Georgia State Bar Association, on which he served on the Board of Governors from 1971-1976. He is a Past President of the Swainsboro Jaycees and has served on the First Baptist Church of Swainsboro Board of Deacons. He is currently a trustee of the Southeastern Technical College Foundation, grantor of the Mill Creek Foundation, and Chairman of Citizens Bank, of which he has held a position on the Board of Directors for 38 years.  Shepherd also served as City Recorder (now referred to as Municipal Court Judge) for the City of Swainsboro during the 1960s and he served on the Georgia State Bar Association Disciplinary Board Review Panel.  He was married to the late Jane G. Shepherd and has three children, four grandchildren, and two great-grand children.

Ms. Phyllis Strobridge

Swainsboro native Phyllis Strobridge was presented with the OurTown Hero award at the April meeting of Swainsboro
City Council. Strobridge opened Kiddie Kampus Learning Center in 1987 to provide a safe, nurturing environment where she could teach children on a personal level. In 2001, Kiddie Kampus moved to a new location and expanded its facilities to employ 16 people and care for up to 153 children. Strobridge’s contributions to local children are just the beginning of the charity and service that she has bestowed upon the community. Known as someone who unselfishly gives to others, Strobridge has fed those that were hungry, clothed those in need, and paid bills for those on the brink of disaster. Recalling a period in her life when she was without a car and relied on walking as her primary means of transportation to work, Strobridge did not hesitate to give her own car away to someone in need of transportation.   She is now working to open a shelter for the hungry. She also gives through volunteerism with various organizations in Emanuel County including United Hospice, the Swainsboro Optimist Club, the Emanuel County Nursing Home, the NAACP, and the Southeastern Technical College Advisory Committee. She played an integral part in the organization of the first ever SOULfest: Celebration of African American Culture. Strobridge has two sons and six grandchildren.

Mr. Dess Smith III and Mr. Wilder Smith, Jr.

Lifelong residents of Swainsboro, brothers Wilder Smith, Jr. and Dess Smith III have dedicated countless hours toward the betterment of the community through various organizations, most notably for the brothers – through the Boy Scouts of America. As a leader in the Scouts since 1984, Dess served as Committee Chair of Troop 75 for 18 years. He has led four groups to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and planned the 2009 trip. He is the Ogeechee District Eagle Scout Coordinator and is the recipient of the Silver Beaver Award, the highest honor awarded to adult Scout volunteers. Also a leader in the Boy Scouts, Wilder has served on the Troop 75 Scout Committee since 1976, serving as Committee Treasurer for much of that time. His volunteerism with the organization has also included a cumulative 9 years as Scoutmaster, 8 years as Cubmaster, and many years in various other leadership roles such as Den Leader, Assistant Scout Master, and more.

As a member of the Georgia National Guard for 32 years, Dess graduated with Honors from the Command and General Staff College and received the Bronze Order of the De Fleury Medal from the Army Engineers Association. He commanded Company D,  878th Combat Engineer Battalion, Hvy from 1976-81 and was the Commander of  the 878th Combat Engineer Battalion, Hvy from 1992-95.  During the 1996 Olympics, Dess was the Battalion Commander for the Duration Security Battalion that provided security for all the Olympic venues in Atlanta and Athens.  He served in deployments to Grenada in 1985 and Egypt in 1987 for Operation Bright Star, and he served as Task Force Commander on his deployment to Oman in 1992 for Operation Eastern Castle.  During the second deployment of Swainsboro’s Army National Guard Unit to Iraq in 2006, Dess was recognized with the “Army National Guard-Citizen Soldier Hero Award” for assisting the Family Readiness Group of the State of Georgia. A past-president of the Swainsboro Jaycees (1970-1971), Dess keeps busy through his work as Vice President of the Swainsboro Kiwanis Club, member of the Sons of the American Revolution, member of Swainsboro First United Methodist Church and member of the church choir.  He is also on the Board of Directors of the Emanuel County Historic Preservation Society. Dess is married to Ginny Lockhart Smith and has four children, Dessie and wife Terri Smith, Mary Ellen Smith, Richard and wife Kaytee Smith, and Anna Kate and husband Kenneth Willoughby; the couple also has a special extended family, Franziska & Ulf de Haus Kossel. Dess and Ginny have three grandsons, 5 granddaughters and one great-granddaughter.

Wilder owns and operates Smith Rural Health Clinic with his brother Mason. A Physician Assistant who graduated in the Medical College of Georgia’s third class of the new profession, Wilder served in the United States Army Medical Service Corps, including a year of serving as Medical Supply Officer of the 27th Surgical Hospital at Chu Lai in Vietnam. He later served as Company Commander, C Company, 15th Medical Battalion, 1st Calvary Division at Fort Hood, Texas. In addition to his volunteerism through the Boy Scouts, Wilder has found other ways to give back to the community, including through his work with Swainsboro First United Methodist Church. Besides being in the Chancel Choir and teaching Sunday School, Wilder has also served as Dublin District Lay Leader, Dublin District United Methodist Men President, and United Methodist Men Local President. Wilder has served on several foreign mission trips to Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Honduras.  He also led a medical and construction trip for Swainsboro First United Methodist Church to Santa Elena, Honduras in 2006. He serves on the Board of Directors for Mission on the Move, an agency serving Mexico, Honduras and Kenya.  Locally, Wilder is a member of the Exchange Club and also serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Sunshine House.  He has also served as a manager and coach of the Dixie Youth League, and he served as a Physician Assistant for the National Boy Scout Jamboree in 1985.  He is also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. Wilder is married to Elaine Snellgrove Smith and their family consists of daughter Katherine and son-in-law Mac Barron; late son Wilder Smith III; daughter Barbara Jean Smith; daughter Leila Gladys Smith; daughter Kari-Lin and son-in-law Trent Swygert, and son Colby Smith. Wilder and Elaine also have three grandsons and two granddaughters.

Mr. Donald Jenkins

The City of Swainsboro named Donald Jenkins as its OurTown Hero at the January 2012 meeting of the Swainsboro City Council. A lifelong resident of Swainsboro, Jenkins worked in education in Emanuel County for 37 years. He began as a teacher at Swainsboro Elementary School before moving on to become Principal of the Academy of Career Science sand Assistant Principal at Swainsboro Elementary School and Swainsboro High School. Jenkins is noted in the community for his musical talents, which he expresses as a volunteer for the Emanu’Ole Opry, as the pianist for Mount Moriah AME Church and Smith Grove Baptist Church, and as the leader of the Union Gospel Singers. Jenkins spent 15 years on the Swainsboro City Council, eight years on the Swainsboro Technical College Foundation, and he served on the Emanuel County Hospital Board. He is currently on the Emanuel Arts Council Board, the East Georgia College Foundation, the Swainsboro Planning Board, and the Emanuel County Library Board. Jenkins is a member of St. Paul/Noah’sArkAMEChurch. He and wife, Erma, have three children, Dorna Taylor, Donald Jenkins II, and Robert Jenkins, and three grandchildren, Ashlee Taylor, William Taylor IV, and Kayden Sumpter Jenkins.

Mr. Curtis Lewis

The Swainsboro City Council honored Curtis Lewis with the OurTown Hero award at its December 2011 meeting. Lewis, a lifelong resident of Emanuel County, is employed by the Emanuel County Clerk of Courts Office. There he goes out of his way to help anyone in need, not only at the courthouse, but in all other county offices. His other contributions to the community come through his volunteer work with Southwatch, a non-profit mentoring program for local youth, and in his extensive volunteerism with Community Baptist Church. As a member of the church for nearly 20 years, Lewis drives the church van, maintains the church grounds, assists with finances, and ensures that the church property is well maintained. An avid gardener in his spare time, Lewis is looked to as a motivator within the community. Lewis is the son of the late Mary Wells and grandson of the late Elizabeth Lewis.

Dr. John Black

Dr. John B. Black was presented with the OurTown Hero award at the November 2011 meeting of the Swainsboro City Council. A native of WhitfieldCounty, Dr. Black was educated in EmanuelCountyschools until moving with his family when he was in 2nd grade. Dr. Black served a variety of roles in higher education and the advancement of medicine in the field of infertility before returning with wife Dorothy to Swainsboro in 1994 to serve as Vice President for Academic Affairs atEastGeorgiaCollege. After spending 1999-2004 in other educational administration positions, Dr. Black once again returned to Swainsboro to become President of East Georgia College.

During his tenure, EGC has become the fastest growing two-year institution in the University System of Georgia, received State College designation, added online degree offerings along with a baccalaureate degree in Biology, and fostered partnerships with Darton College for an Associate of Science in Nursing and Georgia Southwestern State University for an online baccalaureate degree in Business Administration. In addition, EGC has seen campus expansions in the form of a 200-bed dormitory, the Sudie A. Fulford Community Learning Center, and a permanent campus in Statesboro, Georgia.

In addition to his work with EGC, Dr. Black is also involved with: Directions, a program for rising high school freshmen that addresses the drop-out rate; the Celebration of Education Essay Contest; the Excellence in Education Scholarship; the Second Grade Exploration, when all Emanuel County second graders visit EGC; the Swainsboro Kiwanis Club; the Pine Tree Festival Committee; the Emanuel Arts Council; the Swainsboro-Emanuel County Chamber of Commerce; the Emanuel County P-16 Council; the Emanuel County Teen Health Initiative Task Force; the Emanuel County Historical Preservation Society; and Good Shepherd Episcopal Church.

Mr. Neil Kalmanson

Kalmanson, a native of Brooklyn, New York, received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Pratt Institute and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Florida. In 1973, Kalmanson moved to Swainsboro to become a Professor of Art at Emanuel County Junior College (now East Georgia College), a position he held until retiring in 2003. A pioneer in the arts in Emanuel County, Kalmanson has sat on the Board of Directors of the Emanuel Arts Council since its inception in 1978 and directed the Kalmanson Gallery (renamed in his honor in 1998) located at the Emanuel Arts Center, where he schedules and hangs monthly exhibitions for viewing by the local community. The list of Kalmanson’s contributions to the community is extensive, including teaching various art workshops, creating sets for many community plays, organizing local events such as the ArtsEmanuel Festival, and coordinating student art shows at EGC for more than 30 years. A boomerang aficionado, Kalmanson and his wife, Mary, live in Swainsboro and have one daughter, Leah.


Mr. David Morgan

David Morgan was presented with the City of Swainsboro’s prestigious OurTown Hero Award at the September 12, 2011 meeting of the Swainsboro City Council. A graduate of Jenkins County High School and Georgia Southern College, Morgan lived in Germany as a sergeant in the US Army before moving to Swainsboro in 1970. A long-time supporter of the Franklin Memorial Library, Morgan has served on the library’s Board of Trustees for more than 20 years. Many of these years he has served as Board Chair. In addition to his service to the community through the library, Morgan is also the head of Emanuel County’s Angel Tree program, which provides Christmas presents to local children whose parents are incarcerated, and he works to ensure that children throughout the county are able to visit with Santa Claus during the Christmas season. As a member of the First Baptist Church of Swainsboro, Morgan recently completed his term as the Chair of the Board of Deacons and he also currently volunteers with the Mill Creek Foundation, a local organization that provides valuable support to other local non-profit groups through grants. Morgan and wife, Lynda, have been married for 43 years and have one daughter and son-in-law, Melinda and Jeff Johnson, and three granddaughters, Abby, Emily, and Claire.


Ms. Verdell Brinson

Ms. Verdell Brinson was presented with the OurTown Hero Award at the regular August 2011 meeting of the Swainsboro City Council. A graduate of Emanuel County Elementary and High Schools and Queens College in Queens, NY, Ms. Brinson worked for AT&T and New York Telephone before retiring to Swainsboro. As a substitute teacher and office secretary in Swainsboro schools, Ms. Brinson is also a dedicated volunteer with the annual book bag drive and a court appointed special advocate for children. Ms. Brinson has been a DFACS board member for seven years, was the first female DFACS Board Chair in Emanuel County, and was a former member of the YDC Board of Advisors.

Ms. Brinson teaches Sunday school at Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church, and she is the Assistant Secretary of the New Improved Sunday School Choir Union. She is also the Recording Secretary of the Progressive Ladies Club of Swainsboro and the Assistant Secretary of Jethro Council #1.


Mr. Dwight D. Howard II

Mayor Charles Schwabe presented NBA All-Star and Olympic Gold Medalist Dwight D. Howard II with the OurTown Hero award at the “Hometown Super Barbeque” community event hosted by Howard on July 2, 2011. The son of Dwight Howard, Sr., and Sheryl Howard and grandson of Horace Hall and Cecile Harris-Hall and the late Paul Howard, Sr., and Gussie Howard, all of Swainsboro, the Orlando Magic center traveled back to his family’s home of Swainsboro to host a community carnival-style event, including barbeque, cotton candy, rides, games, and more – and all at no cost to the community or the participants. Howard’s generosity and continued involvement in the Swainsboro community is greatly appreciated and has touched many lives.

Mr. Carl Lee, Jr.

Local entrepreneur and businessman Carl Lee was presented with the OurTown Hero Award at the May 2, 2011 meeting of the Swainsboro City Council. Lee, a graduate of Swainsboro High School and Georgia Southern University, is the owner of Carl Lee’s Urban Fashions located on Green Street in downtown Swainsboro. Lee was recognized for his work in mentoring and setting a positive example for children in the area. “He is the epitome of the ‘American Way.’ He works from the sweat of his brow, showing children that they can be successful by working hard… he shows them the right path,” said Councilperson Bobbie Collins. Lee is a member of the Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church, where he serves as a Deacon and teaches youth Sunday School.  Lee is known as a mentor to youth both inside and outside of church, helping them to learn the value of hard work, honesty, and integrity. He has made countless donations of time and effort to his church and has even been known to offer free hair cuts before the beginning of school to those children in need as yet another way of giving back to the community. Lee is the son of Cendy and Carl Lee, Sr. He has one sister, LaSandra Dubard, and a daughter, Zaylin Lee.

Rear Admiral (Ret.) Roger L. Rich, Jr.

Rear Admiral (Ret.) Roger L. Rich, Jr., a Swainsboro native and member of the 1951 Swainsboro High School State Championship baseball team, was presented with the OurTown Hero Award for his brave, kind, and selfless acts not only for Swainsboro but for the nation as well. Rich’s remarkable Naval career includes flying more than 100 types of aircraft as a test pilot, serving as Executive Officer and Commanding Officer of Helicopter Anti-Sub Squadron FOUR embarked in U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, serving as Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, serving as Chief of Staff Commander, Sea-Based Anti-Submarine Warfare Wings, serving as Commander, Anti-Submarine Warfare Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and serving as Director of Naval Communications.

Though Rich is a three-time Legion of Merit award recipient, he was nominated as for the OurTown Hero honor due to his humanitarian efforts in Emanuel County. A current resident of Orange Park, Florida, Rear Admiral Rich makes regular trips to Swainsboro and the surrounding area to care for elderly and sick citizens. He goes out of his way to ensure that those who must depend on others for their wellbeing are well taken care of and at ease.

Mrs. Eloise Fye Vining

A native of Emanuel County, Mrs. Eloise Fye Vining has been an outstanding member of the community for more than a century. Mrs. Vining is an active member of St. Phillips Missionary Baptist Church, where she also holds the title of eldest member of the congregation at 102 years of age. Mrs. Vining has conducted a great deal of missionary work through the church and beyond, having served as president of the 12th District General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia and the Walker Baptist Association Missionary Department.

A grade school teacher for 42 years, Mrs. Vining has been honored as Emanuel County Teacher of the Year, and she has served as president of the Emanuel County Teachers and Retired Teachers Association. She also established the Ladies Progressive Club which administers scholarships to local students pursuing college degrees in education. Mrs. Vining has fostered more than 20 children and is a member of the Emanuel County Foster Parent Association.

George & Missy Elder

The first OurTown Hero Award of 2011 was presented to George and Missy Elder at the January meeting of the Swainsboro City Council. As active members of the Swainsboro community, the Elders devote countless volunteer hours to various organizations and causes. George is a member of the Twin City Lions Club and sits on the 4-H Foundation Board, while Missy is past-president and an active member of the Swainsboro Book Club. Together, the couple works diligently with the Swainsboro First United Methodist Church Food Pantry, and they are officers of the Agribusiness Council. The Elders have also played an instrumental role in the Pine Tree Festival & Southeast Timber EXPO, serving on the Board of Directors of the Swainsboro-Emanuel County Festival Foundation, Inc., during its first two years of operation. Some of the couple’s most noted work, however, involves the Emanuel County Historic Preservation Society, where George serves as President. The Elders note their roles in the restoration of the Sam’s Drive-In rocket, the relocation of a historic dogtrot house to the Farm & Home Museum, and their involvement in the Downtown Swainsboro Farmers Market as some of their most recently rewarding projects.

Missy, who was raised in Emanuel County, and George, a native of Richland, Georgia, returned to their farm in Emanuel County upon George’s retirement from SP Newsprint Company 6 years ago. The couple has two daughters. Photo courtesy of the Forest-Blade.

Mr. Doug Wilkinson

Doug Wilkinson, originally of Dublin, moved to Swainsboro in 1970 after serving the country as a member of the United States Army in the Vietnam Conflict. Approximately 8 months after moving to Swainsboro, he opened Plaza Pharmacy where he still serves as a pharmacist. Wilkinson serves as Chairman of the volunteer-driven Emanuel County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council, as well as a teacher of the Swainsboro First Baptist Church Jr./Sr. High Sunday School class, a position he has held some 37 years. “He got a lot of excitement back in Sunday School,” commented Swainsboro City Administrator Al Lawson. In presenting the award to Wilkinson, Lawson, City Councilperson Sandra Stroud, and Mayor Charles Schwabe attested to Wilkinson’s generosity and his “man behind the scenes” approach. “I appreciate [the award] and I am deeply honored, but I give God the glory…what I do is not for personal glory. I prefer to be behind the scenes,” said Wilkinson. Wilkinson and wife Sara have been married for 48 years. They have two daughters, Theresa and Jane, and six grandchildren.

Mr. Moses “Pete” Archie, Jr.

While presenting the OurTown Hero Award to Mr. Moses “Pete” Archie, Jr. at the November 1, 2010 meeting of the Swainsboro City Council, Councilperson Rita Faulkner commented, “Mr. Pete is always willing to help at the drop of the hat…you don’t even have to ask.” Mr. Archie, a lifelong resident of Swainsboro, has worked with the Emanuel County Senior Center for the last 44 years, where he has done everything from change light bulbs to feed disabled seniors. He delivers daily meals to seniors, often being the only person they see each day, and has discovered several fallen seniors who were stranded until being found by him. In addition, Mr. Archie served in the National Guard, which he joined after returning from combat in the Vietnam War.

Mr. Johnny Mills

Johnny Mills, a lifelong resident of Swainsboro, was presented with the OurTown Hero award at the October 4, 2010 meeting of the Swainsboro City Council. Mills is well known throughout the community for his volunteer work with numerous philanthropic organizations. A volunteer of the American Red Cross since 1997, Mills has served as Captain of the local unit since 2001. Additionally, Mills serves as Captain of the Emanuel County Disaster Action Team, Scoutmaster of the Tiger Patrol for the Boy Scouts of America Troop #75, and leader of the Emanuel County Webelos II. Mills is the son of Gladys and Ralph Mills. He and wife Stacy have two sons, Hunter and Forrest, and one daughter, Lyndsey. Photo courtesy of the Forest-Blade.

Mr. Barnell Anderson

A lifelong resident of Emanuel County, Mr. Barnell Anderson dedicated nearly 64 years to continuous public service for the people of Swainsboro and Emanuel County. Working with Emanuel County for 27 years, Mr. Anderson served such roles as machine operator and assistant superintendent. Mr. Anderson then accepted a position with the City of Swainsboro as the head of public works, putting him in charge of the street department, the cemetery department, and the sanitation department. After holding the position for 21 years, Mr. Anderson announced his retirement in 1994; however, he was quickly tapped to manage the City’s newly acquired Recycling Center, which he began just two weeks after his announced date of retirement. During his 16 years as Director of the Recycling Center, Mr. Anderson worked to promote and improve the convenience of recycling in Swainsboro. Mayor Schwabe and the entire Swainsboro City Council thanked Mr. Anderson for his dedicated service to the community and wished him a happy retirement, which began in August, 2010.

Mrs. Shari Watt

  Shari Watt, a lifelong resident of Emanuel County, was awarded the OurTown Hero Award at the August 2, 2010 meeting of the Swainsboro City Council. A teacher at Swainsboro Elementary School for 27 years, Watt is perhaps best known for her work with the Betty Gambrell Animal Shelter, named in honor of Watt’s mother. There,  she has worked in rescuing and finding homes for animals in Emanuel County for more than 18 years. Watt was also  instrumental in the creation of the Emanuel County Humane Society and in the passing of the Animal Cruelty  Ordinance. In speaking to Watt’s contributions to the Animal Shelter and Humane Society, Mayor Charles Schwabe commented, “I do not know of anyone who is more dedicated to the cause of their choice.”

Other organizations in which Watt volunteers include the Emanuel County Historic Preservation Society, the Emanuel County Farm Bureau, and the 4-H Volunteer Leaders. “I like to do my job quietly,” said Watt, adding, “I am very honored that someone thought of me for this honor…I was not expecting it.”

Ms. Arlene Carr

As she presented the OurTown Hero Award to Ms. Arlene Carr at the July 6, 2010 meeting of the Swainsboro City Council, Councilperson Sandra Stroud told the crowd that the July recipient was someone who is “an example of what church and family mean to the people of this community.” A lifelong resident of Emanuel County with the exception of three years that she spent in Cochran, GA, Ms. Carr is best known for her work as Director of the Pregnancy Care Center, a ministry of Swainsboro First Baptist Church. As Director for more than 10 years, Ms. Carr has provided support and care for countless young women from throughout the area. In addition to her work with the Pregnancy Care Center, Ms. Carr has been president of WMU for 12 years and a Sunday School teacher for more than 45 years. She also serves as a Bible Study teacher, Relay for Life Team Leader and a member of Family Connection. The mother of one son, Keith, and five grandchildren, Ms. Carr considers her family her crowning achievement. “My salvation, faith, family, and community are the things that keep me going,” she noted.

Mr. Charles Doster
Mr. Charles P. Doster is originally from Moultrie, Georgia. A graduate of Westminster Choir College who later completed graduate studies at Georgia Southern College, Mr. Doster met his wife of 48 years, Erika, while serving in the U.S. Army as Director of the 4th Armor Division Chorus in Germany. The Dosters have four children, John, Erika Anne, and the late James.

A resident of Swainsboro for more than 45 years, Mr. Doster has instilled the love of music into the hearts of countless children and adults. As music teacher and choir director of Swainsboro Elementary and High Schools, Mr. Doster led several choral groups to win numerous state competitions and to perform for some of the time’s most noted composers. In addition to his history as a teacher and director, Mr. Doster has performed with the New York Philharmonic, recorded Handel’s Messiah with Leonard Bernstine, and performed at Carnegie Hall 22 times.

According to Mayor Schwabe, Mr. Doster “has made a lifelong contribution and invaluable participation in the lives of countless younger and older people.” City Administrator Al Lawson agreed, stating that Mr. Doster “has touched so many lives in Emanuel County and brought so much rich culture to Emanuel County.”

In response to being named the June OurTown Hero, Mr. Doster offered the following sentiment, “I would like to thank the City of Swainsboro for this honor – being named OurTown Hero. I also would like to thank Mr. J.A. Kinsaul, Principal of Swainsboro Elementary School (during my years teaching there), the parents of my chorus members, and the community for their encouragement and support, for without it, we could have never achieved the level of success that we did. I was blessed to have spent my teaching career in a small town, in a loving and safe community, to rear our four children. Most of all, I thank the Lord for the gift of music and that he allowed me to pass it on to my students.” Photo courtesy of the Forest-Blade

Ms. Mae Goddard

Ms. Mae Goddard was recognized as the May recipient of the OurTown Hero award at the May 3, 2010 Swainsboro City Council Meeting. In presenting the award, Mayor Charles Schwabe noted that the presentation of the award to Goddard was especially meaningful and deserved because she “literally makes a difference in whether people go to bed hungry or not.” Goddard is the Director of the Emanuel County Food Pantry, which she has been involved in since returning to her hometown of Swainsboro in 1994. Goddard expressed her appreciation to her mother, who worked with the start-up of the Food Pantry, as well as the many individuals and organizations who support the charity. “It is a joint effort by so many people to keep this food ministry going,” said Goddard. “I am honored to accept this award, but I do so on behalf of the dedicated men and women who work to make sure that no one has to be turned away.” In addition to her work with the Food Pantry, Goddard is also Treasurer of the Emanuel County 4-H Volunteer Leaders Council and a member of the Emanuel County Historic Preservation Society.

Mr. Anthony Faris

Anthony Faris is originally from Tybee Island, GA. He moved to Swainsboro in September 2005 with members of the Stillmoreroots Group to work on an Art Incubator Project. He and the group took active leadership roles in the Emanuel Artists Guild and became Board members of the Emanuel Arts Council. In 2006, Mr. Faris wrote a grant to begin Gallery RFD in Downtown Swainsboro. Gallery RFD hosted music, art and teaching opportunities for the community and introduced the Art Stroll to Downtown Swainsboro. In 2008, Mr. Faris took a position with the City of Swainsboro as Director of Downtown Development. During his tenure as Director, Downtown events were expanded, the City was recognized by the State with Awards and Grants, the current City website was created, murals and arts projects were supported, buildings were renovated and projects like the Creative Marketplace Competition and Enjoy Downtown Discount Card were unveiled.

Mrs. E.K. Miller

Mrs. E. K. Miller is originally from Alabama but moved to Swainsboro over 50 years ago to be an educator in Swainsboro. She taught at Emanuel County Elementary and High School as well as Swainsboro Primary School. Married to the late Earlie Miller and mother to three children, Mrs. Miller has been a dedicated educator, mother and community member to Swainsboro and Emanuel County. Her dedication to the beautification of Robin Road and Gumlog Road has made her a well-recognized figure in her neighborhood. Her spirit of volunteerism and dedication to her church, St. Phillip Baptist, is well known. She is willing to work with any organization and committed to the success of our community, Councilwoman Faulkner said.

Mrs. Virginia Bolton

DSC00033Mrs. Bolton is originally from Kingston, GA but moved to Swainsboro in 1979 with her husband Edward. She taught at David Emanuel Academy and then at Swainsboro High School for 20 years before retiring. In 2001, she became a part-time professor at East Georgia College and also began working at Franklin Memorial Library. She is currently in charge of Genealogy and Local History at the Library. Originally, Mr. Jack Atkinson asked Mrs. Bolton to begin a project of chronicling the lives of local WWII veterans. In time, Mrs. Bolton collected the oral histories of over 50 local WWII veterans and collected pictures of veterans from across the County. Mrs. Bolton has also worked with volunteers and supporters to write grants to frame each archival image, has submitted 25 images to the Library of Congress, and been a consistent advocate for keeping each veteran’s story alive. Mrs. Bolton says that “the thing that means the most to me is getting to know personally these veterans and their families.”

Chief Johnny Shuman

DSC09625“This month we honor a person who has made a career of service to others,” said Mayor Schwabe at December’s City Council Meeting, “He is a friend of mine, of this Council and a friend to many people in this community. He is not a native son but I’d like to thank that he has been adopted. He is has been committed to the safety of this community and we honor him not for this year, but for many years of faithful service. We honor Chief Shuman this month as OurTown Hero.” Chief Shuman is the Police Chief for the City of Swainsboro . He is the second longest tenured Police Chief in Swainsboro’s history, running the Police Department for 14 years. A Georgia native, Chief Shuman has been in law enforcement for over 40 years and currently teaches Criminal Justice at East Georgia College . He has a law degree and will be retiring this December after over a decade of service to the community. During Chief Shuman’s tenure, the Police Department became a more organized and efficient body, the Detective Division was expanded and a new Police facility was built with state of the art equipment and a municipal courtroom.

Emanuel Artists Guild

guild“The Emanuel Artists Guild has not only offered their time and talents through art exhibits and workshops,” Director of Downtown Development Anthony Faris said, “They have created an annual Festival, the Arts Emanuel Festival, they implement each year that affects children and adults from across the County. The Festival has been going on for 5 years now and that’s a hallmark! We are so proud of this group for their investment in creativity, our downtown, and the people of Swainsboro/Emanuel County.” Several members of the Artists Guild attended the November City Council meeting and Mr. Neil Kalmanson accepted the award on behalf of the group. Mr. Kalmanson said “We thank you for this award and we’d like to invite you to the Emanuel Artists Guild’s annual show this Friday at the Emanuel Arts Council Building to see what we’ve been up to.”

Mr. Bobby Peacock

untitled3Local resident Bobby Peacock has been named Our Hometown Hero for the month of October.  Peacock received the award Monday night at the October Swainsboro City Council meeting.  “This is someone in our community that does things every day to make this a better place to live,” said Swainsboro Mayor Charles Schwabe introducing Mr. Peacock.  “It is a special treat for me tonight to be able to honor this man,” Schwabe continued. “It is a very fitting honor to award this month’s Our Hometown Hero Award to Mr. Bobby Peacock,” concluded Schwabe.

Peacock and his wife Kay moved to Swainsboro from Macon 45 years ago.  They have four children; Mike, Richard, Chris and Julia.  The couple came here while Mr. Peacock was employed with the Atlanta Gas Company.  He retired from the gas company in 1995 after 38 years employment.  Peacock also worked 24 years with the United States Postal Service and honorably served his country as a United States Marine.  He and Kay recently celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary. In retirement, Peacock’s passion is his ongoing work with Kairos Prison Ministry International.  “The Kairos ministry has meant so much to me,” Peacock stated.  He goes to prisons such as Rogers State Prison and Reidsville to minister to inmates. In addition to numerous other volunteer endeavors, Peacock also regularly visits residents at the Emanuel Medical Center Nursing Home.

Mr. Ronnie Shuemake

DSC09288“This is an occasion I look forward to each month,” Mayor Schwabe said at the beginning of the September City Council meeting, “Each month, the City gives an award to someone who has given back to their community. This month we honor someone who has done some amazing things, often on his own. I have a great deal of admiration for OurTown Hero this month and it is my honor to give this award to Mr. Ronnie Shuemake.” September’s Hero continues the monthly tradition in Swainsboro of honoring a community member who has dedicated their time and energy to bettering the community through example, a spirit of volunteerism and service.

Mr. Shuemake is a Georgia State Patrol officer who has worked to better Emanuel County with projects like the annual book-bag giveaway. Shuemake called the giveaway, which has been running for 8 years, a “collaboration.” The Mayor and Council offered their support of the program with Mayor Schwabe saying that “(Mr. Shuemake) does a great job and that the City will support your efforts and hard work and be with you Mr. Shuemake grew up in Emanuel County and felt a need for projects like the book-bag away to address issues like attendance in schools. “I always said that if I ever made it, I would give back to my community and try to lead by example. This project is one way I know I can give back and I hope it has a big impact on the community,” Mr. Shuemake said.

Mr. Jim Crowdis

DSC08699“The Ourtown Hero is given each month to someone who doesn’t often receive and doesn’t really desire credit for what they give to our community but should be recognized for their part in making Swainsboro and Emanuel County a better place,” Mayor Schwabe said at Monday night’s City Council Meeting. “This month we recognize someone who has been concerned with not only Swainsboro’s growth, but the region. This month OurTown Hero is Mr. Jim Crowdis.”

Mr. Crowdis worked as a Regional Representative for Region 9 with the Department of Community Affairs. Bill Rogers, Director of the Chamber of Commerce, also attended the OurTown Hero ceremony and gave Mr. Crowdis a Proclamation from the Chamber saying that his tenure with DCA was “marked by energetic devotion to the promotion, growth and stability of this region. (Mr. Crowdis) has established a legacy of the highest spirit of selfless contribution of time and energy in devotion to his job which has directly and indirectly benefited many area residents.” For his part, Mr. Crowdis thanked everyone who attended the award ceremony and said that “With the DCA Resource Team and all the projects with the City, County and its Partners here in Emanuel County, you all are set to succeed and are at a great place to grow. We all expect great things to happen here and I’ll be here to help out any way I can.”

Mrs. Ann Peebles

peebles2Mrs. Peebles was born in Emanuel County and moved to Swainsboro with her late husband Mr. Ernie Peebles in the 1950’s. She worked for Dr. Moye and Dr. Frost before working for Home Health. Mrs. Peebles is Sunday School Superintendent at United Methodist Church and has had perfect attendance at Sunday School. In addition to working at the Thrift Shop on the Boneyard and serving as UNW Treasurer, Mrs. Peebles still works with Home Health as a nurse. Her daughter Yonnah says “she helps our people  who aren’t even her patients. Whenever someone gets hurt in the neighborhood they always come by to see Mom because they’ve always known she’d be there for them and that’s where to go.” Mrs. Peebles also enjoys sewing for people and embodies the spirit of volunteerism for which the OurTown Hero Award was designed. Mrs. Peebles is mother to Ernie Keith Peebles, Yonnah and John Allen Bailey and proud grandmother of Jay Bailey. Mrs. Peebles is the fifth recipient of the OurTown Hero award and the City Council and Mayor thanked her for her continued and faithful service to Swainsboro.


Mrs. Minnie Woods

“We begin this evening with the opportunity to offer our appreciation to someone not usually in the limelight, someone whose good acts are not well publicized,” Mayor Schwabe said during June’s City Council Meeting. “We are privileged to have one such community member here who does important work for our community.”  June’s OurTown Hero was nominated by Council Parker who said “Mrs. Minnie Woods is this month’s OurTown Hero because of her ability to go out of the way to watch over everyone in her community. She has a spirit of volunteerism and makes every effort to make Swainsboro a better place to live.” Among the attendees to June’s City Council meeting was Mrs. Woods’s family who drove in from Atlanta for the award ceremony. Mrs. Woods said she “didn’t do good in (her) community for any type of recognition but because it was the right thing to do.” Mrs. Woods is fourth recipient of the OurTown Hero award and the City Council and Mayor thanked her for her continued and faithful service to Swainsboro.

Mr. Philip Myhanddsc07841

Mayor Schwabe began May’s City Council meeting by saying, “(that) the OurTown Hero Award is given to a citizen who goes above and beyond what is expected. We are giving this award not to because of your work at Wal-Mart per say but because you’re Phillip and you are there when we need you!” Mr. Phillip Myhand had thought he was attending the Council Meeting to discuss his work with the upcoming Pine Tree Festival and Timber Exposition. He was completely caught off guard by the award saying it was a “complete surprise.”

Mr. Myhand moved to Swainsboro three years ago from Augusta, GA. He works as the Store Manager at Wal-Mart. Swainsboro’s Wal-Mart received the Helen Walton Award in 2008 for “giving back to the community.” Mr. Myhand said it was part of his philosophy to give back as a responsible community member. Under his supervision, his store raised over 6,000 for Relay for Life, volunteered at the Pine Tree Festival, donated services to the local schools, and supports civic organizations like the Sunshine House, American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society. “I always said that if I was ever in a position to give back, I would to the best of my ability.” said Mr. Myhand. Describing his relationship to Swainsboro he says with a smile of satisfactions, “It’s home now!”

Mrs. Mozelle Steely


Mrs. Mozelle Steely was recognized as a person who “needed no introduction for her service to our community” by Mayor Schwabe. Mrs. Steely has lived in Emanuel County her whole life and raised her four sons here. She worked in a sewing factory as a presser and lived in Flander’s Height Neighborhood for the last forty years where she has worked as a community advocate. Mrs. Steely was accompanied by her pastor Elder Jones who commented that one of the reasons she is a Hero is for her mentorship of youth. “She has a heart for the betterment, advancement and growth of young children,” said Elder Jones.

Mrs. Beverly Fulford Johnsonreal

Mrs. Beverly Fulford Johnson was recognized by the City of Swainsboro during March’s City Council meeting as Swainsboro’s first “OurTown Hero.” The OurTown Hero Award recognizes an individual or organization that has selflessly given back to the community. Mrs. Johnson was recognized not only for her service as a volunteer teacher and committee member with the United Methodist Church but also because she can be seen daily picking up trash and litter in the Downtown area. The OurTown Hero award recognizes organized efforts to make Swainsboro a better place to live as well as the efforts people make in their daily lives to make a difference where they can. Mrs. Johnson is a native of Swainsboro and the City is grateful we have a hero like her living, working and giving back to her community.



award-copy1The Award given by the City Council and Mayor is a small token of appreciation to each month’s “OurTown Hero.” The City of Swainsboro is wholly aware that those who give back to their community represent the best of this community. Each month’s “OurTown Hero” is given a plaque of appreciation, are highlighted in the Forest Blade Newspaper and on the website, and are automatically nominated for the opportunity to receive a Key to the City of Swainsboro at the end of the year.

Nominate a Hero

If you would like to nominate a “OurTown Hero” please send a one page essay describing who your Hero is and what they have done for the Swainsboro community. Please be as descriptive as possible and make sure to include you and your hero’s contact information (Full names, addresses, and phone numbers). Swainsboro’s “OurTown Hero” is a highly competitive honor. The OurTown Hero Award is made by Martin Awards.

If you are sending in your essay by E-mail, title your subject “OurTown Hero.” Please send all e-mails to: information@cityofswainsboro.org

If you are sending your essay by mail, please address your letter in the following way:

City of Swainsboro: DDA
C/O OurTown Hero
101 West Main Street
Swainsboro, GA  30401