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Junior Achievement to honor leaders Thursday
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For a fourth year, a distinguished award ceremony will recognize six local residents who have made a difference in their community and for its children.

Junior Achievement of Northeast Georgia on Thursday will host the Northeast Georgia Business Hall of Fame and present three laureates known for involvement in the economic and civic development of not only Northeast Georgia but the entire state. Also recognized will be direct involvement with JA through yearly awards.

Winners of the Northeast Georgia Business Hall of Fame include Tommy Bagwell, owner of American Proteins Inc.; Jan Cooley, CEO of Proview Foods; and Bob Swoszowski, an owner and operator of 11 McDonald’s restaurants across the state.

“These individuals are very deserving people,” said Jim Walters, presenting sponsor of the hall of fame awards.

“They recognize where they came from and have given back to the community,” he said.

Even though the hall of fame winners may not be directly involved in JA, Walters said each winner is a role model for local youth.

Walters is a finance and real estate professional in Hall County.

“For example, Jan Cooley started as a line worker in the poultry industry,” he said.

Walters said all of the winners “picked up their bootstraps and worked hard to succeed.”

Moss Robertson of Moss Robertson Cadillac Mazda, president of Junior Achievement of Northeast Georgia and past inductee to the Northeast Georgia Business Hall of Fame, said the standards and the selection process should not be taken lightly.

“These people have abundantly given back to their community,” he said. The winners have succeeded in their business careers and personal lives, he added.

Along with the hall of fame winners,yearly awards will be announced Thursday.

Jennifer Bagwell will receive the Volunteer of the Year Award sponsored by Wilson Orthodontics; Terri Powers will receive the Educator of the Year Award sponsored by 1st Franklin Financial Corp.; and Gainesville State College (now University of North Georgia) will receive the Business Partnership of the Year Award.

Jennifer Bagwell brought JA to Lula Elementary School’s classrooms by registering teachers and recruiting volunteers, stated a JA news release. The release also mentioned her work in securing a grant for JA from Jackson EMC.

Powers, principal of Liberty Elementary School, was first introduced to JA in 2008.

“JA has really benefited our students,” Powers said in the news release from JA.

“It encourages an early foundation for civic awareness. Our hope is that this experience will impact these children and will encourage community involvement throughout their lives.”

The business partnership award is given each year to a business that exemplifies the core values of JA. In a JA news release, Gainesville State College was recognized for its volunteers, including faculty, staff, students and alumni, teaching JA classes at elementary, middle and high school levels in nine school systems surrounding both the Gainesville and Oconee campuses.

The award presentations will start at 6 p.m. at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville.