At a glance
The 2013 Homeowners Association officers include:
• President - Jane Graves
• Vice president - Pepper Pettit
• Treasurer - Diane Sexton
• Secretary - Pat Wyrembelski
• Membership - Bill Minor
The 2013 Homeowners Association directors include: Linda Clary-Umberger, Rory Cunningham, Allen Ferg, Lionel Graves, Greg Hicks, Brad Weaver and Karen Weaver
The annual meeting of the Dawson County's Homeowners Association aimed to educate the community on safety during natural disasters and everyday life.
The meeting, held Saturday at the C&S Bank Community Building in downtown Dawsonville, featured guest speakers Billy Thurmond, director of Dawson County Emergency Services, and Sheriff Billy Carlisle.
Thurmond, who also serves as the county's emergency management agent, gave a presentation on being prepared for natural disasters.
He told the gathering how to be safe during fires, floods, drought and tornadoes, but also what measures the county has in place to help those hit by them.
Thurmond said that even small things people take for granted can help save lives, such as remembering to wear shoes when seeking shelter from a tornado.
He also gave each person in attendance a checklist of how to be prepared for disasters, saying that just two out of every 10 people take such precautions.
"I hope that the next time I see you all, you will have collected the things on this list for your safety," he said. "That way we can put this county's citizens at the front of being prepared for natural disasters.
"We [emergency services] are coming to help you, but the more prepared you are, the better the chance of survival."
Carlisle promoted citizen awareness and safety in his presentation, which discussed public shootings in light of recent events across the country.
"Laws and ordinances are put in place to protect us, but it's up to us to decide to follow those laws," he explained. "A lot of people in this world have chosen not to follow these laws.
"People have a free will to make their own decisions, but there are consequences to these choices."
The sheriff offered ways to stay safe when encountering a gunman.
"Step one is to flee. Get down and get out," Carlisle said. "If you can't get out, then hide. That's step two. Find as safe of a location as you can and hide until you can make it to safety."
The annual meeting also gave the homeowners group an opportunity to recognize folks who have made an impact in the community.
The Mike Brown You Care Award, created in 2000 in memory of a community activist and humanitarian, went to Ken Newell, president of RIC Rack, a local thrift store that also serves as a food bank for Dawson County.
Newell, who was not able to attend the meeting, said Tuesday he was surprised and humbled by the recognition.
"I appreciate the award very much. I'm very excited about getting it, but I would prefer to focus this as good news for RIC Rack instead of myself," he said. "So on behalf of RIC Rack, I'm very thankful for the award."
Jane Graves, president of the organization, said that Newell embodies all of the qualities of the honor.
"He was awarded the Morris Taylor Citizenship award in 2008 while serving on the board at the RIC Rack and he continues to serve to this day, where he has been instrumental in renovations and expansions of the property, including the food bank."
Surprising Graves, the association also recognized her for her commitment to bettering Dawson County.
"Ken is a worthy recipient of this award, but this year we felt we needed to do something different and give it to two people, because we had another standout member of our community," said Pepper Pettit, the association's vice president.
Graves said she was "overwhelmed" by the honor.
"They did sneak this up on me, I had no idea," she said. "When people say to me that one person cannot make a difference, I tell them that they have never spent a night in a room with a single mosquito."