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Letter: Dearing residents are McDuffie residents, too

To the editor:

I'm not originally from McDuffie County. I was born and reared in Richmond County, home of the infamous Augusta Commission.

You know the one -- constant bickering, never agreeing on anything, always voting along racial lines. Augusta, now consolidated Augusta-Richmond County, where west and south remain in constant turmoil and competition with one another.

Having lived in such a city, I was not surprised when I first heard the history of my current hometown and the county wherein it lies. The rivalry between the old Dearing High School and the old Thomson High School are well known. In the late 1960s I was told of the rivalry between Dearing and Thomson by friends who had family living in McDuffie County, but by the time I moved to McDuffie County in the late 1980s I had forgotten the discord ever existed. McDuffie County was a quiet area with a good school system, and Dearing seemed to be the perfect small town in which to raise a family. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, it took me 25 years to discover that McDuffie County is not different from Richmond County.

Admittedly biased, I must say I am still infatuated with the town of Dearing. A great community, it has an active city council led by competent, vision-minded Mayor Sean Kelley. The residents of Dearing participate in McDuffie County activities and do whatever can be done to increase the cohesiveness of the county. I wish the same could be said of the city of Thomson. In my opinion, it cannot. The current water-sewer situation proves this. While the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners appears to consider the interests of the county as a whole, the Thomson City Council appears to think only of the citizens of Thomson.

Dearing is a part of McDuffie County. It is actually a main portal into McDuffie County. I would think as much effort as possible would be put into enhancing Dearing in an effort to "grow" McDuffie County. Treating the Dearing area as an outsider is no way to attract development in this part of McDuffie County.

Adequate infrastructure, such as a good water-sewer system, is a prime requirement for county growth, residentially and commercially. Is it fair for only the residents in the outlying areas of McDuffie County to foot the bill for improved infrastructure that the entire county, including the city of Thomson, will profit from?

This is a countywide water-sewer system. It is overseen by the Thomson-McDuffie Water/Sewer Commission. Decisions should be made by the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners and/or the voters of McDuffie County. Decisions that affect the county as a whole should not be made by a city council, or a comparatively few people who influence that council, when they are not the only residents involved.

I was also appalled when I read comments made by several Thomson residents and council members. One comment -- "if they want it, let them pay for it" -- seemed extremely harsh. There was also the reverend who held a meeting at his church with his constituents regarding the rate change.

While I know from friends who are black ministers that after church on Sunday is the optimum time to distribute information on programs and government benefits to the black community, in my opinion it is not the place or the time to discuss community/political affairs.

Let us not forget that the city of Dearing is closer to Harlem and just as close to Grovetown as it is to Thomson. If the county and the city of Thomson don't want to treat me, a Dearing resident, as a McDuffie County equal, then maybe my money would be better spent in another location. There's nothing in the city of Thomson that I can't purchase or do in Grovetown.

Gail McGahee, Dearing

Web posted on Thursday, June 09, 2011

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