ATHENS, Ga. -- The common theme of last weekend's joint Thomson/McDuffie County semi-annual retreat was that governments working together can get more done.
Nearly every presenter during the day-and-a-half retreat in Athens gave a pat on the back to local leaders for working together to accomplish the most for citizens of Thomson and McDuffie County.
For County Commissioner Darrell Wester, coordinating efforts in a joint meeting is necessary for government to run smoothly over the next six months to a year.
"I think it's essential that you are able to discuss in an open and free meeting what your plan is and how close you're sticking to the plan," he said. "In here we have the freedom to talk amongst each other and try to plan what we're going to do, whereas we go back into a formal meeting and implement the plan."
Members of the McDuffie County Commission, the Thomson City Council and other officials met at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education in Athens to hear reports on how 2004 went and how 2005 should go for organizations such as McDuffie Regional Medical Center, McDuffie County Schools and Forward McDuffie.
The group also discussed projects that are coming online in the near future as well as ones that are still years away. Precision Planning gave a presentation on the downtown redevelopment plan that includes new industry moving into the old Thomson Company area. Updates were also given on the water/sewer system expansions and repairs.
"The progress that we're making on the provisions of these infrastructures are beginning to show dividends," said Thomson City Administrator Bob Flanders.
For Thomson City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Kenneth Usry, the retreat was a way to make sure government isn't run on the fly but rather that the future is planned for.
"I think it's excellent that we all take the time to sit down," he said. "There's always issues that face us that we need to be aware of. There's always constant change in the laws and mandates.
"And also it's just long-range planning for all of us to know where we're headed not only 30 days from now but where we're headed five to 10 years from now and how to accomplish that with the dollars that we have to deal with and to match those dollars and to do it as quick and as economically as we can."