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Regional partnership gets Whitehead's focus

The discussion topics may have been varied, but McDuffie County officials always seemed to come back to the same thing over and over during their Wednesday with Whitehead.

The regional partnership between five counties surrounding Clarks Hill Lake was on everyone's mind during the regular meeting with State Senator Jim Whitehead, especially with a visit from Governor Sonny Purdue to the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport looming in the near future.

Officials from the City of Thomson, the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners and Forward McDuffie gathered at the courthouse in Thomson to discuss plans already in motion by the group that Sen. Whitehead said was ground-breaking.

"It may be the first time I've heard of somebody doing something like this with five counties partnering," he said. "The governor is going to be pleased. To me this could be the best thing that has happened to this end of Georgia."

Representatives from McDuffie, Columbia, Warren, Wilkes and Lincoln counties met at the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport on June 14 to discuss how to best proceed with the partnership. Sen. Whitehead then persuaded Gov. Purdue to visit the airport on July 30.

According to Sen. Whitehead, the group is considering the name "Clarks Hill Partnership." The aim of the partnership will be to promote lake tourism and make improvements to the airport that could bring corporate jets to the area.

Sen. Whitehead said the area has a true diamond in the lake, and that the airport was an unexpected bright spot that emerged during the initial meetings.

"I think we have two real diamonds, and there's more to come," he said.

Another topic that officials discussed was last year's proposed legislation to create a sales tax to support indigent health care. McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton presented the idea to state legislators near the end of the session.

But Chairman Newton said McDuffie's Wednesday with Whitehead meetings shouldn't continue to take up much of the senator's time.

"We don't have a lot of new stuff come up. We're just working on old stuff," he said.

Some of the "old stuff" that was discussed at the meeting was the state funded road resurfacing that recently took place, the Transportation Enhancement Grant that the City of Thomson received and the entire redevelopment project. Sen. Whitehead said he would rather be proactive on such projects.

"If I can help, I'm not going to sit back and wait for you to call me," he said.

McDuffie County Fire Chief Bruce Tanner also had questions about the new fireworks law as well as the availability of homeland security grants. Officials at the meeting even spent some time sharing stories of wasteful government spending that they hope to avoid.



Web posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2005











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