A department of county government celebrated the support of the community during its annual awards banquet Tuesday night.
Keep Forsyth County Beautiful works to promote cooperation among governments, businesses, schools, civic organizations and private residents to back environmental causes such as recycling and litter reduction.
Program manager Tammy Wright said the annual awards banquet, which drew more than 100 people to Piney Grove Middle School in south Forsyth, is always a highlight.
“We have so many great people that work with our organization that volunteer and that give their time that we feel like this is the least we can do to recognize them and give back because they don’t get any other kind of reward or compensation for it,” she said.
The banquet is held at a different site each year, typically a school that has made a major contribution to the department in some way.
Piney Grove, whose mascot is a grizzly bear, was chosen this year because of its annual Grizzly Great Day of Service.
During the day, held last spring, nearly 1,100 Piney Grove students and staff fanned out in the community to work on a number of service projects.
Among them were several environmental efforts, such as road clean-ups. The students also raised and donated more than $1,000, a portion of which went to the department.
Among other recognitions Tuesday were awards to 2012 sponsors and community partners, which made financial or in-kind donations for various events and activities.
Among Keep Forsyth County Beautiful’s annual events are Christmas tree recycling, Great American Cleanup, Earth Day, Rivers Alive waterway cleanups, Shore Sweep and electronic recycling days.
Other awards were presented to about 20 schools that reached Green School status at gold, silver or bronze levels.
Schools earn the status by completing a range of environmentally friendly activities such as recycling and having active Green Clubs for students.
Chattahoochee and Chestatee elementary schools and Lakeside Middle were recognized for their telephone book recycling programs. To receive the award, schools had to collect a certain number of pounds of phone books based on student population.
The Chattahoochee Elementary Monarchs, a self-contained special education class, was named the school environmental club of the year, while the environmental achievement award went to Chuck Ingraham.
Other awards included: the city of Cumming, outstanding government partner; Busy Buzzard trash removal, service to the community; and to several groups for outstanding Adopt-A-Road contributions.
In addition, Lisa Lafayette was named the top school recycling coordinator and Bryan Biccum got educator of the year. Ron McAllister received the junior leadership award.
Two new awards were presented for the garden of the year, which went to Cumming Elementary, and for the trail of the year to Vickery Creek Elementary.
Wright said that while preparing for the annual banquet can be challenging, it’s well worth it.
“It’s very stressful working up to it, but at the end of the night, we sit back and say, ‘Wow, look at all that happened this past year,’” she said. “So it’s a benefit to everyone involved.”