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Alliance awards community leaders for environmental efforts

POSTED: January 24, 2014 11:55 p.m.

Gainesville City Councilman George Wangemann was among the honorees at the Hall County Green Alliance’s first awards ceremony held Friday morning at Oakwood City Hall to celebrate community leaders for their environmental stewardship.

“I’m humbled and overwhelmed,” Wangemann said after receiving the Champion Award in the public sector for his work with the nonprofit Keep Hall Beautiful and also as the head of the Clean Community Challenge Committee.

The alliance of government agencies, businesses and nonprofits aims to promote environmental conservation through research and education. The organization seeks to create a sustainable community that balances economic interests with environmental considerations, and actively sponsors projects to clean up and conserve Hall’s natural habitat.

Margaret Rasmussen was named the Trailblazer of the Year for her work on the Redbud Project, which aims to preserve native trees, shrubs and wildflowers, as well as her work bringing the Linwood Nature Preserve to life.
“We don’t hug trees and we don’t wave signs,” Rasmussen said jokingly, adding that her work is all about encouraging the community to get involved in conservation efforts.

The Volunteer of the Year Award was given to activist Bonny Putney for her work with Friends of the Parks, Lake Lanier Association and Rivers Alive, among other conservation groups.

One nominator wrote, “She physically does more to help clean up our waterways than any one person I know.”

Robert Eidson was presented with the Champion Award in the private sector. Among his many accomplishments, Eidson built the alliance’s website and performed an energy audit for the City of Oakwood resulting in a 30 to 40 percent reduction in electricity costs. He is a member of several boards and committees, including the alliance and Lake Lanier Association.

“We are meant to use (our) talents for the good of ourselves and our families first, but we then need to take our talents to the community so we can be good citizens,” Eidson said in a statement.

The Lake Lanier Association was given the Project/Initiative of the Year Award for its annual Shore Sweep cleanup campaign, which brought out more than 1,000 volunteers across multiple counties in September to remove thousands of pounds of trash from the lake and its shoreline.

The Education Award was given to the East Hall Middle School Wiki Green Club. Students in the club participate in a number of conservation efforts throughout the school year, including the annual Rivers Alive stream cleanup and a variety of recycling projects.

“They are just an outstanding group that truly gets their East Hall community involved in protecting their environment,” Jennifer Flowers, Gainesville’s water conservation specialist, said in a statement.

The Clean Air Campaign received the Partner of the Year Award for its work with alliance in promoting alternative commuting options to local businesses and their employees. The campaign has established six diesel-idle reduction policies with employers in Hall County.

Finally, the alliance presented a “legacy” award to Rick Foote, named in his honor forever more as the Green “Foote” Print Award. Foote’s contributions to environmental stewardship in Hall County are extensive and date back nearly two decades.

Among his many accomplishments, Foote authored and developed the Gainesville/Hall County Urban and Community Forestry Plan in 2007; was named the Georgia Recycling Coalition volunteer of the year in 2007; and has served on the Keep Hall Beautiful board of directors since 1998. In 2010, Foote became the lead coordinator for Hall County’s Environmental Management System, which later evolved into the HCGA.

One nominator wrote, “Rick is my hero. He is tireless in his efforts to educate, involve and promote environmental awareness in everything that he does at work, at home and in his personal interactions with people.”


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