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Boy Scouts honor former members for contributions to community
Senator, business owner, banker recognized
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Dick Valentine says a few words after being honored during the 2017 Gainesville American Values Dinner at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Each of the three former Boy Scouts honored at the annual American Values Dinner Thursday shared one thing in common. Honorees Sen. Butch Miller, Bob Swoszowski and Dick Valentine love their community and giving back to it.

“(Miller) pours himself back into his community,” Jimmy Butterworth, longtime friend of Miller’s, said.

Butterworth said Miller takes on the challenges of the day with a smile, hearty laugh, words of encouragement and the best slaps on the back.

In Miller’s speech, he thanked the people he surrounds himself with for his successes in both business and politics.

“I’m just very, very grateful for this community and what it means for my family,” Miller said.

Swoszowski, a Life Scout and a McDonald’s franchisee in Northeast Georgia for the past 44 years, made similar remarks about Gainesville.

He and his wife Wanda Swoszowski have donated time and financial assistance to many of Northeast Georgia’s nonprofits, including the Northeast Georgia Junior Achievement, Northeast Georgia Humane Society and the Atlanta based Ronald McDonald House charities, as well as funding about 40 scholarships in Georgia and Florida.

“He exemplifies all Scouting stands for,” friend Art Kunzer said.

Kunzer also said Swoszowski saw a real opportunity for growth in Gainesville and wasn’t afraid of taking the risk when he first opened a McDonald’s before it was popular.

“I’m just honored to be at the same podium as these other guys,” Swoszowski said. “I’m just pleased to be here.”

Dick Valentine’s risks in business also paid off. By the time he retired nearly a year ago from his 35 years at United Community Bank of Hall County, he had grown the company from one branch to five.

Longtime friend Rob Fowler introduced Valentine, and said the most important thing to Valentine is his family. His “soft side comes out” when it comes to them.

“Scout law is a reflection of his life,” Fowler said. “He’s a leader in every way.”

Valentine also believed in giving back to his community. He was a volunteer and on several boards in Gainesville including United Way of Hall County, North Georgia Community Foundation and more, but spends most of his time in North Carolina now.

Author, traveling spokesman and Eagle Scout Alvin Townley also spoke at the event about what it means to be a Boy Scout and the longterm benefits of being one.

“Boy Scouts carry the values they learn with them for the rest of their lives,” he said.