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- 2013 - January - 2nd -

City Notes

The Northeast Florida Regional Council awarded Bob Rhodes with its Regional Leadership Award during the council's 10th annual ceremony. Rhodes has been an icon in Florida's planning, growth and development and initiated the council's involvement in a 50-year visioning exercise, according to a new release announcing the award. Also honored by the council were:

• U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, who received the Special Achievement Award for continued local and regional representation to secure funding for different projects.

• Steve Rieck, who received the Regional Award for Excellence in Economic Development/Tourism, for positioning Nassau County economic development through projects. Rieck is the executive director for the Nassau County Economic Development Board.

• Laura Lasko, who received the Regional Award for Quality of Life. Lasko is executive director of Girls on the Run of Northeast Florida, which teaches life skills to girls as they prepare for a 5K run and serves 1,600 girls each year.

• Joseph Joyner, who received the Regional Award for Excellence in Education. Joyner is St. Johns County School District superintendent and has the county ranked among Florida's top districts in the percentage of funds spent in the classroom, according to the release.

• Debra Poczatek, who received the Regional Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing. She serves as Helping Hands Neighborhood Network Center Inc. coordinator and supports affordable housing as one part of a "community," according to the release.

• Chief Quin Romay, who received the Regional Award for Excellence in Public Safety. Romay is Putnam County Emergency Management director and served on several regional boards to improve working relationships of emergency responders.

• The City of Palm Coast, which received the Regional Award for Excellence in Environmental Stewardship for its solid waste and recycling program.

• Doug Conkey, who received the Regional Award for Excellence in Transportation. He recently was named Clay County Chamber of Commerce president and served as an active supporter of local and regional transportation by serving on the North Florida Transportation planning Organization board since 2006, among other transportation-related duties.

• Michael Blaylock, also received the Regional Award for Excellence in Transportation. Blaylock is a former Jacksonville Transportation Authority executive director who spent close to 30 years at the authority responsible for road construction and public transit.

• The Towns of Callahan and Interlachen and City of Keystone Heights all received a Regional Award for Excellence in Planning and Growth Management. The award is presented to three municipalities that have less than 2,000 residents and each was honored for its 2012 comprehensive plan amendments.

• Leadership Jacksonville Inc. will honor Florida Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand, executive chairman of Acosta Inc.; Deborah Gianoulis Heald, president and CEO of the Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership; and former Mayor John Peyton at Celebration 2013, the 18th annual Celebration of Leadership. The event is scheduled 6-9 p.m. April 11 at the Hyatt Downtown.

• Holland & Knight Managing Partner Steven Sonberg has elevated two senior counsel and one associate to partners in the firm’s Jacksonville office. They are:

• Crystal Adkins is the firm’s associate general counsel. Her practice focuses on law firm administration, risk management and professional responsibility, all on behalf of the firm. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Florid and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. She was formerly senior counsel.

• Jeremy Ches is a member of the firm’s Litigation Section and focuses on complex litigation. His experience includes commercial and contractual disputes, business torts and consumer and commercial banking disputes, among others. He received his bachelor’s degree from Fordham University and his juris doctor from Wake Forest University School of Law. He was formerly an associate.

• Christina Schwing is a member of the firm’s Litigation Section. She focuses in areas of complex commercial litigation, product liability, class action defense and construction-related disputes. She received her bachelor’s from UNF and her juris doctor from the UF Levin College of Law. She was formerly senior counsel.

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