Group honors longtime local businessman for service
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
November 15, 2012 12:00 AM | 1760 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The city of Woodstock and the Woodstock Downtown Development Authority conducted a dedication ceremony on Wednesday evening honoring longtime businessman and DDA Board member Herb Priest. Above: Priest, left, and Woodstock DDA Executive Director Billy Peppers unveil the plaque that will eventually be placed permanently at the railroad crossing.<br>Staff/Todd Hull
The city of Woodstock and the Woodstock Downtown Development Authority conducted a dedication ceremony on Wednesday evening honoring longtime businessman and DDA Board member Herb Priest. Above: Priest, left, and Woodstock DDA Executive Director Billy Peppers unveil the plaque that will eventually be placed permanently at the railroad crossing.
Staff/Todd Hull
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WOODSTOCK — A Cherokee County native and former owner of Priest Home Furnishings in Woodstock was celebrated Wednesday night with a plaza and pedestrian crossing dedicated in his honor.

The dedication was followed by the centennial anniversary celebration of the city’s historic train depot.

Director of Economic Services Billy Peppers kicked off the dedication ceremony in downtown Woodstock among a crowd of about 50.

“This is really a special moment to be here to give an honor to one of the best business people that this county’s ever had,” Peppers said.

Herbert M. Priest Jr. was born in 1942 and lived in both Woodstock and Canton, where he attended Cherokee High School.

Priest went on to attend North Georgia College and Georgia State University before returning to Cherokee to take over the family furniture business.

Peppers said Priest always had a vision of the development of downtown.

“He wanted to see it grow and he wanted to see it thrive,” Peppers said. “He wanted to see small business (become) important here. I think with his help and his service we’ve done that.”

Priest Home Furnishings found a new home in downtown Woodstock in 1965 and stayed in the same location until 2011 when Priest retired.

Besides being a savvy businessman, Priest served on many local non-elected boards including development authorities, the hospital authority, merchant associations, and was a charter member of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce.

“The fact that we can have this area where we can connect the old and the new, and the people that live here with the people who work here is just fantastic,” Peppers said. “For many years the railroad divided town, but because of people like Herb we were able to grow on both sides.”

Mayor Donnie Henriques read the city council proclamation dedicating the plaza.

“It’s only fitting that Herb’s name is going to be a part of Main Street forever since he was such a part of the city for so many years as a business man,” Henriques said. “Like Billy said, it’s only fitting that it be right here so that it blends the old and the new.”

Downtown Authority Chairman Jimmy Long echoed Peppers and Henriques’ sentiments and thanked Priest for his vision of downtown Woodstock.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Herb and what he’s done cannot be exaggerated,” Long said.

Priest, who also celebrated his birthday Wednesday, said he was humbled by the dedication and thanked his family, friends and members of the community for the honor.

“This is what makes a town,” Priest said of the people in attendance. “This is what makes it special. And these people I’ve known all my life, they’ve never had anything but just the deepest belief that Woodstock can be a better place.”

Priest said Woodstock residents should be thankful for the generations of people dedicated to seeing Woodstock succeed.

“With Thanksgiving coming up and elections over, I got to thinking how thankful we need to be not only for the vision that we … have been blessed with something that our country needs so deeply, and that’s a tremendous amount of good leadership,” Priest said.

Finally, Priest and Peppers lifted a cover over the plaque in Priest’s dedication. Peppers said the plaque will be permanently installed at the plaza within the next couple of weeks.
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