Murray County Family Connection recognizes community champions

Print This Post

By Shaka L. Cobb


Matt Hamilton/The Daily Citizen
Tom Peeples, owner of Carlton’s Pharmacy, accepts the Business Community Champion Award from Phenna Petty, board member of Murray County Family Connection.


Fighting back tears, Tom Peeples, owner of Carlton’s Pharmacy in Chatsworth, said it felt good to receive a Community Champion Award.

“I grew up here and the community means a lot to me,” Peeples said. “It has been good to me and I try to give back when I can.”

Carlton’s Pharmacy was one of four businesses nominated for the award, which was presented last week at the Murray County Family Connection Community Champion Awards Luncheon. Other business nominees were Food City, Murray County 4-H and Paul’s Drive In.

Murray County Family Connection is a part of Georgia Family Connection, “a statewide initiative that cultivates public and private collaboration at the local level,” its website states. Murray County Family Connection works to improve conditions for “at-risk children, families and communities.” The organization recognizes individuals, students and businesses that are making a difference in the community as community champions.

Carlton’s was nominated by Woodlawn Elementary teacher Elizabeth Robinson.

“The dedicated employees of Carlton’s Pharmacy have a sense of hometown pride and caring spirit,” Robinson said.

She said the staff go to great lengths to meet customers’ needs, even opening after hours and on holidays.

“When my mom was struggling with cancer, Carlton’s Pharmacy became a much-needed friend,” Robinson said. “They never turned us away, even when money was tight.”

Students nominated were Irma Bautista of Murray County High School, Katherine Baxter of North Murray High School, Alexis Carroll of Pleasant Valley Innovative School, Leticia Garcia of Murray County High, Tristan Martin of Pleasant Valley and James Dakota Owens of North Murray. A champion was named from each school, and they were Bautista, Martin and Owens. They received $500 scholarships.

Bautista, a senior, is a student who “volunteers every chance she gets,” said Beth Thornbury, a teacher at Chatsworth Elementary.

Bautista received the Community Champion Award for her volunteer efforts, including Saturday Sacks, which provides healthy snacks for students to take home over the weekend, translating for families and helping in pre-K classrooms.

“She doesn’t have a car but will walk to get where she needs to be,” said Thornbury.

Bautista was nominated by Thornbury and Tara Robinette, her guidance counselor at Murray County High.

Robinette said Bautista is always smiling.

“I just can’t say enough nice things about her,” she said. “Irma doesn’t have much, but she gives a lot.

Bautista said she is grateful to be recognized for helping youth.

“I truly love my community and it’s a blessing to be nominated,” she said.

Matt Hamilton/The Daily Citizen
Anita Thornton, center, accepts her award as a Community Champion from Joan Dooley, left, Murray County Family Connection chair, and Phenna Petty, board member.


Anita Thornton, director of human resources information services at Shaw Industries, said being chosen as a Community Champion is humbling. Other individual nominees were Associate Magistrate Judge Chris Fowler; Chris Townsend, former coach of the Murray County Anglers and member of the Northwest Georgia High School Anglers Association Board of Directors; Toby Westmoreland, Murray County Schools’ school improvement specialist; Superior Court Judge Jim Wilbanks; and Murray County High School teacher Kip Williams.

“I feel like anyone that does a bunch of volunteer work has a love for the community and people,” said Thornton.

She was nominated by Westmoreland.

“Anita gives back to our community in a variety of ways,” Westmoreland said. He said she supports and volunteers with Community Christmas and has led the Leadership Murray Youth Leaders for several years.

Joan Dooley, chair of Murray County Family Connection, said they appreciate everyone’s contributions.

Board member Tammy West said Murray County is a great community.

“We’ve seen lots of ups and downs, but we always prevail and do what it takes,” West said.

Read the story on