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Sitting down with Sonny: Governor meets with public at airport

McDuffie County officials and residents made sure they used their Saturday with Sonny to the fullest.

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Gov. Perdue and Thomson Mayor Bob Knox, Jr., discuss the partnership.
Photo by Jason B. Smith
Georgia Gov. Sonny Purdue flew into the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport around 7:30 Saturday morning and spent the next two hours listening to the concerns of average citizens as well as plans to develop tourism around Clarks Hill.

The governor was receptive to the idea of the regional partnership that is also looking to extend the airport runway so that corporate jets can land. He praised the efforts of those coordinating the partnership.

"I'm very impressed with the partnership and the collaboration and cooperation," Gov. Purdue said after listening to a presentation about the partnership. "This is what we're trying to encourage all over the state, communities coming together, building a critical mass with common interests that make sense. That's where the state wants to become a partner with them."

Thomson Mayor Bob Knox agreed.

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Forward McDuffie Director Don Powers talks during the partnership presentation.
Photo by Jason B. Smith
"Normally you've got people fussing and fighting over county lines. These folks are working together," he told Gov. Purdue.

The governor went on to outline ways the state government can get involved in assisting with the partnership. He said he will help by fostering connections with the appropriate personnel at the Department of Community Affairs as well as the One Georgia Authority.

"Obviously there are a lot of ways that the state can be involved in that," Gov. Purdue said. "As they have projects we can become a financial partner."

McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton said hosting the governor at the airport was an important step in getting assistance at the state level.

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Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue listens to a presentation on the proposed regional partnership between McDuffie, Warren, Wilkes, Lincoln and Columbia counties.
Photo by Jason B. Smith
"It's going to be great for McDuffie County, just the fact that the governor's here and we've got folks from Columbia County, Wilkes, Warren, all over seeing our facility," he said. "When the governor supports it, that's always a good thing."

Despite the terminal full of dignitaries, Gov. Purdue spent the majority of his time in McDuffie talking to citizens who signed up for five minutes of his time. The 10 groups of 27 people discussed a wide array of topics including animal's rights, education and eminent domain.

State Senator Jim Whitehead, who convinced Gov. Purdue to visit, said the listening sessions went well after sitting in on a few of them.

"The governor has heard some things and even said 'I need to use what you've told me,'" he said.

Overall, Sen. Whitehead said the event was of utmost importance to the region because it displayed several of the areas "jewels" to people who can help in many different ways.

"I think it's a great day for McDuffie County and Thomson, Ga. I think it's a great day for our Clarks Hill Partnership," he said. "I think it showcases what we have and the caliber people we have and what we can do together."



Web posted on Thursday, August 4, 2005











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