A former Cub Scout, Boy Scout and an Eagle Scout whose names and faces are familiar around Gainesville were honored Tuesday night for their work in the community.
The Boy Scouts of America’s Northeast Georgia Council held its annual Gainesville American Values Dinner at the Chattahoochee Country Club. The dinner honored the Rev. Bill Coates, senior pastor at Gainesville First Baptist Church; Mike Giles, president of the Georgia Poultry Federation; and Dr. Dan Winston, heart surgeon at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
All three men were awarded the Ralph Cleveland Distinguished Citizen Awards.
“Scouting teaches values such as respect, responsibility, reverence and self-reliance,” said Philip Wilheit, president of Wilheit Packaging in Gainesville and emcee of the evening’s events. “I think it speaks volumes about scouting, that some of Gainesville and Hall County’s best were once one of them.”
Coates was recognized by Dr. Trevor Hooper for his years of hard work through First Baptist and a number of local and state organizations, including Good News Clinics, Habitat for Humanity of Hall County and the Governor’s Board for Faith and Community Alliance.
“His service to Gainesville and Hall County go beyond his duties as the shepherd of the flock at First Baptist Church,” Hooper said.
Abit Massey spoke in recognition of Giles and his work for the poultry industry and all agriculture in the state. Massey said Giles has “gone far beyond what is expected of a person in his position.”
“He’s done a superb job in all capacities,” Massey said. “He lives the scout law and the scout motto.”
Dr. Jeff Marshall recognized Winston, calling him “one of the best doctors, I think, in America.”
Marshall said Winston’s work as a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon in North Georgia has saved countless lives. He said when his own parents needed bypass surgery, Winston was the one he called.
“The Boy Scouts are a phenomenal organization,” Winston said as he accepted his award. “I can’t say enough about the Boy Scouts. Every interview I’ve ever gone to, they’ve look at my resume and seen I was an Eagle Scout, and it’s always been mentioned as a very good organization.”
Winston, Coates and Giles expressed their gratitude to those present for the recognition.
“To share this honor tonight with people like Dan Winston and Mike Giles makes the honor even greater for me,” Coates said.
Superior Court Judge Jason Deal was the keynote speaker Tuesday night. He commended the three honorees and share a little information about the Hall County Drug Court program. He told of five men whose lives were changed because of the program, which offers an alternative to incarceration that helps participants get clean and sober.
“Prison doesn’t solve addiction,” Deal said.
Instead, drug court teaches values, virtues, goal-setting and good citizenship, which is much like the values taught through scouting, he said.
One of the five men whose story Deal shared was an Eagle Scout, Deal said. Now a graduate of drug court, he runs a residential drug treatment program for young men in Hall County.
“I believe, if we have more children involved in things like Scouts, we won’t have so many people come before me in court,” Deal said.