Cherokee County Superior Court Judge Jackson Harris presented the Liberty Bell Award to Cherokee Sheriff's Office Cpl. Ronnie Reece on behalf of the Blue Ridge Bar Association.
Reece was awarded the distinct award during the county's Law Day observance on Tuesday at the Rotary Club of Canton's meeting in the Northside Hospital-Cherokee Conference Center.
The county's bar association each year hands out the award, the most prestigious award given in Cherokee by lawyers to a non-lawyer. It recognizes contributions to the community made by an individual outside of his or her everyday occupation.
The Law Day program also featured Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Keith Blackwell, a Cherokee County native, as the guest speaker. Blackwell spoke about the importance of the rule of law in the transition of power in government.
Each recipient of the Liberty Bell Award has "helped our county be one of the best places to live, and this year's recipient is no different," Harris said of Reece..
Reece, he said, was very "deserving" of the award, noting he was "proud" to have grown up with a man with such compassion for others.
Harris recalled the days of their youth when they attended Cherokee High School together.
Harris said Reece from a very young age never hesitated to help others. As an adult, he added, Reece is always willing to go the extra mile for count youth coming through the juvenile court system.
Reece, he said, has served as a mentor to many of the youth who come through the system, and shows a genuine concern about their futures.
"He's been an important person in their lives," Harris said.
Reece said it was an "honor" to be among the elite in Cherokee County to receive the Liberty Bell Award.
It took some shenanigans by his superiors to get Reece to attend the meeting. He noted his supervisor said he and another deputy were needed to attend the event because of a "security issue."
During the ceremony, Reece said he stepped outside to make sure no unauthorized guests entered the meeting room at the conference center.
Cherokee Sheriff Roger Garrison, who attended the event, summoned Reece to come back into the room, and asked him to listen to the presentation.
As he listened to the presentation, Reece said he began to piece together why he was ordered to the ceremony.
Reece, who provides security at the Cherokee County Justice Center, also provides courthouse tours for children. He supervises and mentors troubled youth on probation at the Cherokee Outdoor YMCA and mentors local Boy Scout troops.
He's previously been recognized by Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children in Cherokee County and by the county Board of Commissioners for his volunteerism.
Reece also is "a man of faith," Harris said, and noted the honoree's travels to Russia on mission trips.
Reece graduated from Cherokee High School in 1974 and attended the former Reinhardt College and the former Southern Technical Institute.
He has been employed by the Cherokee Sheriff's Office for 14 years. Before that, he spent nearly 20 years working for a hazmat team for a private chemical company.
Reece, 55, lives in Sixes with wife, Ava, and has two children, Kalyn and Tyler. The family attends Hopewell Baptist Church.
Reece said he was honored to receive the Liberty Bell award and said Garrison and all of the agency's employees truly care about their work and the county.
"They could have picked any other deputies I've worked with, and they would have been just as deserving," Reece said.