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Drew Echols, Bethany Magnus honored by the Jaycees
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Bethany Magnus hugs Julia Greene, after being awarded the Young Woman of the Year Award by the Gainesville Jaycees at the Chattahoochee Country Club on Feb. 15, 2018. Greene won the award last year and was able to present it to her friend at this year's gala. - photo by Layne Saliba

Young people from all over Gainesville milled around the Chattahoochee Country Club on Thursday, Feb. 15, anxious to hear who would be named the young man and young woman of the year.

It’s an award that has been given by the Gainesville Jaycees to men in Hall County since 1946, and to women since 2001. After a cocktail reception and dinner, the awards were finally handed out to Drew Echols and Bethany Magnus.

Echols, recipient of the Young Man of the Year award, has a pretty recognizable name around the county — and the state — as the grandson of Jimmy Echols, who opened up Jaemor Farms. Echols has been involved with the farm ever since he was young and last year’s recipient of the award said Echols has done a lot for the community in a lot of ways.

“His resume and what he’s done for the agriculture side of things, for not only this area but for the state of Georgia is just impressive,” said Brett Fowler, who was part of the committee that selected Echols.

While serving as a program chair for Leadership Georgia, Echols has also served on the boards of the Georgia Soil and Water Commission, the University of Georgia’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board, the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Board and the Hall County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

Echols really couldn’t believe he won the award. He said people in agriculture don’t often get to stand in front of crowds and get awards like the one he received. He was appreciative of the nominations and was happy to see his family standing in the back of the room

“Just to be in (agriculture) and get an award like this, in a community like Gainesville means a whole lot,” Echols said. “At Jaemor, we just try to do the right thing. We want to be a destination, first off, that my family can be proud of with our heritage and legacy, but we really want to be something that Hall County, Gainesville, all of our surrounding counties and northeast Georgia can be proud of.”

Bethany Magnus, a partner with The Law Firm of Whelchel, Dunlap, Jarrard and Walker, received the Young Woman of the Year award at the gala. Since 2002, when she was admitted to the Georgia Bar, she has found plenty of ways to get involved around Hall County.

“I think she has a broad range of involvement,” said Julia Greene, recipient of last year’s award who handed this year’s to Magnus. “So it’s the breadth of her involvement and also the longevity. Since she moved to town she has been a very active member of the community.”

Magnus is member of the Gainesville-Hall County Junior League, and a member of the Board of Directors of United Way of Hall County, the Georgia Mountain Food Bank and the North Georgia Community Foundation.

She was almost speechless after she was introduced. As she made her way to the stage, she hugged a few people and as she began to speak, her emotions got the best of her as she tried to fight back tears.

“I truly am honored,” Magnus said. “I looked at the list of all the past recipients and I truly am grateful that I can call many of them friends.”

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