There was no band, but the Dorchester Civic Center still rocked a good time Thursday night during the Best of Liberty 2018 awards dinner. Friends, family and colleagues clapped and cheered for each winner.
More than 142,000 votes were cast by the Liberty County community for Best of Liberty 2018, the annual reader’s choice contest. Patty Leon, general manager of the Coastal Courier and Bryan County News, said this tally was the most votes ever cast in the annual online contest.
Best of Liberty is sponsored by the Coastal Courier, where locals voted for their favorites among 100 categories, including clothing and shopping, community, food, drink and entertainment, health and beauty, homes, services, and transportation.
Jeff Arnold, of Arnold & Stafford, won Best Lawyer and Arnold & Stafford won Best Law Firm. Arnold and the law firm were the title sponsors of the event. Arnold & Stafford competed fiercely with the law firm of Jones, Osteen, & Jones for the honor. The two law firms garnered 10,000 votes between them during the contest.
Arnold said he was humbled to be chosen as Best Attorney and his practice as Best Law Firm.
“We just try to keep doing good work,” he said. “There are a lot of fine lawyers in the Atlantic Judicial Circuit. To be singled out, that’s strong.”
Platinum sponsors were Dr. Tad Jackson of Midway Family Dental, who won best dentist, local McDonald’s owner Ashley Dodd, who won best boss and her McDonald’s that won eight categories including best all-around restaurant, and Hernandez Collision Center which won best body/collision repair shop.
Silver sponsors were Life United Pentecostal Church, which won best church and its pastor, Tommy Crutchfield, best pastor, and Dr. Firas Bannout, who won best family physician.
Kathy Villafane, who won best real estate agent, was a bronze sponsor.
Villafane said she was surprised to have won, considering the high caliber of her competitors. “I truly love Liberty County,” she said, adding that hard work and the desire to “give back” to one’s community is rewarding in itself.
For a complete list of Best of Liberty winners, go to the Courier website and click on Special Sections.
After the ceremony, winners had an opportunity to take photos before a celebrity-style backdrop.
Winners also watched themselves in a video, produced by Lawrence Dorsey of the Coastal Courier, thanking the community for voting. The video can be watched on the Courier website and Facebook page.
The fine-dining buffet was catered by Occasions Catering. Dunn-Wright Event Planning, owned by Nicole J. Dunn and Antoinette Q. Wright of Savannah, provided elegant décor for the event. The Liberty County Chamber of Commerce graciously donated alcoholic beverages.