Over 60 community leaders, including elected and appointed officials, business owners, civic leaders and citizens travelled to the Georgia Capitol on Tuesday, February 24, 2014 to attend the first ever “Jackson-Butts County Day” at the Capitol and to receive a resolution from the Senate proclaiming the day and honoring Jackson and Butts County, its citizens and its history.
The event was jointly sponsored by the Butts County Chamber of Commerce and Partners for Smart Growth, in collaboration with the cities of Jackson, Flovilla and Jenkinsburg, Butts County Board of Commissioners and the Butts County Development Authority and included a full morning of meetings and activities with state elected officials.
State Senator Burt Jones and State Representative Susan Holmes welcomed the participants and gave an overview of the legislative session then in progress. Jones explained the process by which bills are introduced, assigned to committees, brought back to the chambers for votes and if passed by both houses, forwarded to the Governor to be signed into law. He also commended the group for being involved and active in the community and for wanting to do more for it.
Following this, the group met briefly in the Senate chamber with Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, who welcomed the assembled leaders and praised the community for its efforts to become part of quality growth in Georgia. Cagle, who has visited Jackson and Butts County on several occasions commended the leadership of the communities for working together.
Following a short tour of the Capitol, community leaders assembled back in the Senate to observe the presentation of Senate Resolution 977, which proclaimed February 24th, 2014 as Jackson-Butts County Day in the State Capitol. Sponsored by Senator Burt Jones (R-Jackson), the resolution was read on the floor of the Senate as follows:
Recognizing February 24, 2014, as the first Jackson-Butts County Day at the state capitol; and for other purposes:
WHEREAS, the center of this state’s population, Butts County, located between Atlanta and Macon, was carved from parts of Henry and Monroe counties in 1825 by the state legislature and presented to Governor George Troup as a gift; and
WHEREAS, the 187 square-mile county was named for Captain Samuel Butts, a Virginian who was killed in the Battle of Calabee in Alabama during the Creek Indian War of 1811-15; and
WHEREAS, Butts County is one of several bedroom communities for the metropolitan Atlanta and Macon areas, and according to the 2010 census, the county population is 23,655, which is an increase from the 2000 population of 19,522; and
WHEREAS, the county is also home to Fresh Air Barbecue, one of the oldest pit-cooked barbecue restaurants in this state, which was voted best barbecue in the State of Georgia; and
WHEREAS, Butts County is the home to several natural landmarks, including Indian Springs State Park, one of the oldest state parks in the United States and a popular spot for outdoor recreation, parts of High Falls State Park, one of Georgia’s top fishing spots for hybrid and white bass, and Lake Jackson, a 4,750 acre reservoir originally built in 1910 to generate electricity for Macon; and
WHEREAS, the county also boasts a nonprofit environmental education center, Dauset Trails, which provides environmental programs for groups with 1,400 acres of scenic woods, 21 fields, creeks, and lakes for visitors to enjoy; and
WHEREAS, Jackson-Butts County has also provided economic prosperity for the State of Georgia, adding 500 jobs to this state’s economy and expanding existing industries; and
WHEREAS, cities and counties that support great economic growth for this state and have such rich history and traditions are worthy of recognition by this body.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE that the members of this body recognize February 24, 2014, as the first Jackson-Butts County Day at the state capitol and express their most sincere best wishes for continued growth and success.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Secretary of the Senate is authorized and directed to transmit an appropriate copy of this resolution to the public and the press.
Senator Jones asked those in attendance to stand and be recognized by the Senate and followed with remarks. “We are a community blessed with lots of local assets…we’ve got state parks, High Falls Lake and Jackson Lake, Dauset Trails, which is a nature retreat that includes the longest mountain bike trail in Georgia. We’re also proud that Jackson was named one of the fifty safest cities in Georgia, and that is due to the efforts of our Police Chief, Mike Riley and our newly elected Sheriff, Gary Long”.
Jones then introduced Butts County Chairman Roger McDaniel, Chamber of Commerce Chairman John Rainwater, Partners for Smart Growth Chairman Joe Westbury and Jackson Mayor Kay Pippin.
“We are excited about our first official Jackson-Butts County Day at the Capitol” Pippin remarked from the Senate floor. “I also want to commend each of you for offering yourselves up for public service and for looking after the best interests of Georgia”. Pippin invited the Senators to visit the community and thanked them for honoring the community. Each Senator and Representative was provided with an informational card about the community, a sample of Fresh Air Barbecue sauce and an invitation to visit the community.
Community members then went over to the House of Representatives where State Representative Susan Holmes recognized the delegation from the floor of the House. “We’ve got wonderful leadership from Butts County here today and I’m just thrilled to welcome them all to the Capitol” Holmes remarked.
Following lunch, the delegation met with State Rep. Andy Welch, who represents the northern half of Butts County. Welch gave a brief overview of some of the bills that were currently going through the House of Representatives and discussed the impact that they would have on the state. Senator Jones then introduced Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer, who discussed a bill that would be voted on later in the afternoon that would cap the Georgia income tax at 6%. Shafer stated that this would help Georgia remain competitive with other states.
Congressional candidate Mike Collins of Jackson was also introduced to those assembled. He discussed his values and the work ethic he hopes to bring to Washington if elected to represent Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, which Butts County is a part of.
At 1:30, the assembled community members met for a photo with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, followed by a visit to the office of Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Secretary of State, whose office oversees business regulation and elections throughout Georgia. Kemp discussed the various aspects of his office and its reach through both the business and electoral processes in Georgia. Residents were welcomed to the Secretary’s office by Butts County native resident Lisa (Weaver) Durden, who works for the Secretary.
Those attending the meetings in Atlanta felt that the day was productive and informative. “Overall, I think the day was a huge success” said County Administrator Michael Brewer. “It sent a clear message to our legislators that we want to be a part of the great things that are happening in Georgia and that we have a lot to offer in terms of location, natural resources, tourism and history. All of these add up to a recipe for success and we left each legislator with a copy of that recipe”.
“I appreciate Jackson Mayor Kay Pippin and Senator Burt Jones for spearheading this trip and especially the Chamber and Partners for sponsoring it. To have over 60 community ambassadors there showed that we are committed to our community and that we will work to make things happen that will better it for all of our citizens”.