Women and men who work in a variety of ways to make their community a better place were recognized Monday night by the Cairo-Grady County Chamber of Commerce during its 87th annual membership meeting and awards banquet held at the Grady Cultural Center.

This year, the chamber recognized Deron Rehberg as the Man of the Year; Mesha C. Wind as Woman of the Year; Teresa Gee Harris with the Community Service Award; Kermit V. Gilliard Jr., as Professional of the Year; and the Jerry Jones family as the Grady County Farm Family of the Year.

Also spotlighted Monday night was Grady County’s Teacher of the Year, Kelly Joyner of Southside Elementary School.

Retiring chamber chairman Nat Higdon presided Monday night and recognized Matt McCaskill and Heath Sanders, who are both retiring from the chamber’s board of directors.

Higdon thanked the large crowd for attending and noted that it was a testament to the commitment chamber members have to bettering the community.

Chairman Higdon outlined the 2012 accomplishments, which included the addition of 20 new members.

He also recognized Chamber Executive Director Chadd Mathis, Executive Vice President Jennifer Majors and Executive Secretary Carol Lehman for their “outstanding” service to the chamber.

At the conclusion of the meeting Monday night, Higdon passed the gavel to incoming Chamber Chairman Matt Sanders.

Sanders, the local Edward Jones investment representative, takes the reins of the chamber for 2013. He pledged to continue existing chamber programs and supporting community programs and projects such as the Tired Creek Lake and the Archway Partnership.

In addition, Sanders said he plans to renew a business after hours program to bring chamber members and the business community together on a regular basis.

The awards presentation was once again emceed by Mesha Wind, whose nomination and selection for Woman of the Year had been kept secret by chamber officials.

Mrs. Wind’s award was presented by Raina Cauley, a past recipient of the chamber’s Professional of the Year award and close friend of this year’s Woman of the Year.

The profiles of this year’s award winners are published below:

MAN OF THE YEAR

Grady County Extension Agent Deron Rehberg has worked 25 years with the youth of Grady County, and was recognized by his peers around the state last fall with the highest award any extension agent in Georgia can earn, the William H. Booth State Award.

In addition to supervising a staff and recruiting volunteers to assist with projects, Rehberg has initiated several fund raisers so young people in 4-H can attend camp. One of his successful ideas includes an annual Vidalia Onion Sale each spring. He also designed a 4-H vehicle tag for the state, and when any tag of his design is sold in Georgia, $5 comes back to Grady County.

Rehberg is known among his peers for his expertise in shooting sports, and he developed a participation agreement that has since been adopted statewide as the model for other 4-H Shooting Sports Committees.

He is in great demand as a judge and clinic teacher for livestock shows, both in Georgia and other states, and he has served many years on the state 4-H and FFA Ad Hoc Junior Livestock Committee, which sets the rules for livestock shows in Georgia.

Rehberg is a vice president of Calvary Lions Club; volunteer and treasurer of the Calvary Volunteer Fire Department; member of the Grady County Cattlemen’s Association; and the Grady County Archery Committee. He serves on the executive committee of the Grady County Livestock Show and is vice chairman of the Flint River Friends of NRA. As a member of Calvary Baptist Church and Calvary Baptist Church Brotherhood, Rehberg also serves as director of Sunday Schools.

He and his wife, Vonda, are the parents of Macy, 16, and Devon, 4.

WOMAN OF THE YEAR

Mesha Wind is Advertising Director for The Cairo Messenger.

Her most recent contribution to the community includes her participation in the successful efforts to forge a partnership between Grady County and the University of Georgia through its Archway program. Mrs. Wind has chaired Archway’s Executive Committee here since it began in the summer of 2011. The Archway Partnership has assisted the community in many ways over the last 18 months by establishing a Community Health and Wellness Issue Work Group; assisting in the application for grants for park renovation; recruiting community members to establish a Business and Industry Work Group to support Grady County schools; providing the chamber of commerce with a business recruitment marketing plan as designed by a UGA Terry College of Business graduate student; supporting Cairo High School in its application for a charter designation and the College and Career Academy; submitting conceptual designs for community gateways, Roddenbery Memorial Library grounds and Azalea Park as drawn by student interns at the UGA College
of Environment and Design; and creating a communication and public relations campaign for Tired Creek Lake as envisioned by students at the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, to name a few.

Mrs.Wind’s other involvements include serving on the Grady Society Alumni Board of Directors for the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism; serving on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Press Association; and participating on the Southside Elementary School PTO Board of Directors.

She is a past president of Cairo Rotary Club; member of the 2011 class of Leadership Georgia; former member of the First United Methodist Church Preschool Board of Directors; former member, United Way for Grady County Board of Directors; and former member, Grady General Support League Board of Directors.

The Decatur native is a graduate of Lakeside High School and the University of Georgia. She has worked at The Messenger since 1996. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter for WALB-TV.

Married to Randolph H. Wind, they have two children, John, 14, and Olivia, 9. The Winds are members of Cairo First United Methodist Church.