DULUTH — Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway, County Board of Education Chairwoman Carole Boyce and local philanthropist Clyde Strickland were given the Scott Hudgens Distinguished Citizens Award Tuesday evening by the Northeast Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
More than 400 scouts and their family members honored the trio at the Gwinnett Center for the 14th Annual American Values Dinner.
The keynote speaker was Gwinnett County native and ESPN Football Analyst Matt Stinchcomb who played for the Oakland Raiders. He told the audience that although he did not get to serve as a scout, their credo taught him that success is found at the intersection of preparation and opportunity followed by action. He also brought the audience to a standing ovation in honor of Bill Powell who has served as a Gwinnett County scout master for the past 60 years.
“This is a great nation of preparation, opportunity and action” said Stinchcomb. “… And we’ve seen a lot of that in Gwinnett County.”
Conway has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience and has served as sheriff since 1996, making him the longest serving sheriff in Georgia. He is a former magistrate judge and Lawrenceville Police Chief. During his tenure as sheriff, he has added a Fugitive Unit, established a detainer program for undocumented immigrants arrested in Gwinnett and his department was one of the first Georgia law enforcement agencies to place its sex offender registry on the internet. He also started a program to prevent euthanasia of dogs at the county animal shelter that has saved more than 200 canines.
“I’m honored to receive this,” Conway said after the ceremony. “And I want to thank them very much.”
Boyce taught in a middle school for 12 years and has served on the Board of Education since 2004. She has also served in a number of other county civic organizations such as the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the United Way, the American Cancer Society and the Parent Teacher Association. She said the future of the county is being assured by the quality of education being offered in its school system.
“Part of the excellence we’ve seen in scouting here is what we’re seeing in the Gwinnett school system,” she said.
Stickland grew up working in the fields as the son of a North Carolina sharecropper. He left home at 16 with only $3 and a 10th grade education. After serving three years in the US Army in Germany, he moved to Gwinnett County in 1972 where he founded Metro-Waterproofing which now employs 240 people and is the largest restoration and waterproofing corporation in the southeast.
Strickland has served as a Cub Scout Master in Lawrenceville and been a major donor to the Gwinnett Medical Center and a number of other county entities. In accepting the award, he urged the scouts and their families to keep their families together and honor God.
“Be sure to get up every day and do something,” he exclaimed. “Do something important!”
The Boy Scouts have been in Gwinnett County for 79 years. The Northeast Georgia Council of Boy Scouts of America now represents more than 32,000 scouts from 26 counties, including more than 15,000 from Gwinnett County. It is the only council in the nation to record 29 consecutive years of growth.
The dinner was sponsored by BB&T, the Gwinnett Medical Center and Metro-Waterproofing.