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Second annual “Best of Dawson” honors top businesses, local leaders
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Tuesday’s “Best of Dawson” awards gala showed that what makes the county excel are the people that live in and contribute to it.

“The community is what makes the Best of Dawson special year after year, and I'm blessed to be a part of it,” said DCN editor Erica Jones. 

The 2022 awards gala was hosted at Dawson County’s Lilly Creek Farms the evening of March 29. 

Earlier this year, local residents voted for community favorites across 204 categories to determine Dawson County’s premier businesses. 

"We at the Dawson County News are incredibly honored to have been able to host the 2022 Best of Dawson awards ceremony this week," Jones said. "Thank you to all of our sponsors and vendors, all the winners who came out to the event and every community member who voted for their favorite nominee in the contest.”

Shawn Boyd with John Megel Chevrolet, the event’s presenting sponsor, called it a “great privilege” to be able to sponsor the gala again this year, participate in and win the “Best New and Used Vehicle Dealership” categories. 

 “It's a true attribute to what we’re doing in the community for our customers and employees,” Boyd said. 

Given the tight-knit local sentiments, it’s no surprise that some of the night’s hallmark awards recognized those that have made consistent efforts to give back to the community. 

DCN presented the inaugural Servant Leadership Award to the late Roger Slaton’s family in his honor. In future years, the award will be known as the “Roger Slaton Servant Leadership” award, and it will be given to a local person who reflects Slaton’s selflessness and love for the community. 

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One of Slaton’s children, daughter Julie Stanfield, gave thanks for the meaningful recognition and added that her father’s generous spirit showed that service is not just surface-level acts but about what one does to contribute at a deeper level. 

“Carry that on and teach your kids that,” she told the gala’s business and community leaders. 

The second annual “Gordon Pirkle Heart of Dawson Award” was given to someone near and dear to him, K.A.R.E. for Kids President Rhonda Goodwin Evans. She’s worked tirelessly to boost the reach of the nonprofit, which cares for county children by giving them clothing and other necessities. 

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Dawsonville restaurant Ruby’s Recipes, who have also helped with multiple community fundraising efforts since their inception, won “Best Italian Restaurant” and “Best Takeout.”

“I think Dawsonville is the best community in this whole southeastern United States,” said Ruby’s owner and chef Allen Cerinetti. “It’s a group of people that care about business, about people. They care about God, and they’re not afraid to say it. I wouldn’t be anywhere else in the world right now.”

Will Anglin, who won “Best Teacher” and whose church, the Soul Filling Station, won “Best Church,” called the community and its people “fantastic.” 

“I grew up in it (Dawson County), so it played a huge role in my life. Being able to give back to the community, both in the school and in the church, is huge,” he said. 

Soul Filling Station pastor Jesse Chism loved being a part of Tuesday’s event and called the assembly “the heart of the community.”

“As someone said about the new Slaton award,” he said, “don’t just be in your community but serve your community, too. I love that.” 

Erica Jones and Rio White contributed reporting for this article.