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2011 Citizen of the Year
Rotary clubs honor local ag businessman
Ray McKinney, left, congratulates Raybon Anderson for being named the 2011 Rotary Citizen of the Year Thursday at Forest Heights Country Club. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

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One of the most prominent figures in Bulloch County’s agricultural history was honored Thursday morning as the Rotary Club of Statesboro and Rotary Club of Downtown Statesboro named Raybon Anderson the 2011 Citizen of the Year.
As he took the stage upon learning of the honor, Anderson said “I’m honored, I’m humbled, I don’t know that I’m worthy.” 
The two clubs join together to present the award. The breakfast meeting and award presentation was held at Forest Heights Country Club.
Former Statesboro mayor and Rotary member Bill Hatcher introduced Anderson by revealing tidbits about the recipient before eventually divulging his identity.
“He is someone we all know, love and respect,” he began.  “… He truly lives the Rotary motto, ‘Service above self.’”
Hatcher shared that Anderson “lived his entire life in Bulloch County,” went to school in Nevils and later at Southeast Bulloch High School. “He married his high school sweetheart” and they celebrated their 50th anniversary last year, he said.
Anderson, with a son, daughter and seven grandchildren, “is a devoted family man,” he said.
According to Hatcher, Anderson began building his business 48 years ago and “has served our community in countless ways.” Some of the many roles Anderson filled include formerly serving as chairman of the Bulloch County Hospital Authority, as director of the First Bulloch Bank board, Statesboro Rotary Club director, Forest Heights Country Club board, Bulloch County Development Authority board, and on the board of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce.
In 1991, Anderson filled an unexpired term on the Bulloch County Board of Commissions. In 1994, he was elected as board chairman.
“During his four-year term as chairman, this county made gigantic strides,” Hatcher said. Under Anderson’s leadership, the first county manager was hired, and the first Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) was passed. Anderson worked with then-Statesboro mayor Hal Averitt to improve city-county governmental relationships and work together, he said.
“Agriculture in Bulloch County is near and dear to his heart,” he said. Anderson has served on the Georgia Agribusiness Council since 1984, and “helped organize Agritrust in Georgia. He was also president of the Georgia Plant/Food Education Society.”
In 2003, Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed Anderson to serve on the Georgia Department of Natural Resources board, and in 2005, to the Georgia Department of Transportation board.
He received the Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind award in 1993; named the Statesboro-Bulloch County Business Leader of the Year in 1995; and in 2006, received the Statesboro Herald Humanitarian of the Year award at the annual Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards.
A member of Statesboro’s First Baptist Church, Anderson meets a group of friends every Wednesday for prayer, Hatcher said. “We salute you, we appreciate you, we thank you.”
Anderson walked to the stage amid a standing ovation. 
 “We have a wonderful county, city, community,” he said. “I have a wonderful family.” His son, daughter, wife and other family members were seated in the back, and Anderson had not been aware that they attended the meeting for the surprise award.
“God has done wonders in my life, and if I have accomplished anything, it’s because He has blessed me,” he said.
Afterward, as people lined up to congratulate Anderson, he expressed humble gratitude and said everything for which he has received credit is really a team effort.
“It’s ‘we,’ nothing I’ve done,” he said. “Me, I can’t do anything. It’s got to be we as a team. Hal Averitt and I put a team together. If we made the community better, it was because of that teamwork.”
 Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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