By Diane Glidewell
The graduation ceremony for Leadership Butts County 2010 was held, for the 20 proud members of the class on Tuesday, May 4. The class met for a full day, every other week, beginning in early January and also spent additional time and effort completing a special class project.
Members of the class gained skills through speakers and a curriculum from the University of Georgia Fanning Leadership Center, gained knowledge of Butts County government and businesses and the surrounding area through tours and field trips, and learned more of the people who make it all work through interaction with one another and the many class facilitators.
The graduating members of Leadership Butts County 2010 represent 20 different entities within the community: Ric Burnette of Sherrell-Wilson-Mangham Funeral Home, Geraldine Chandler of Sylvan Grove Hospital, Toni Clark of Clark's Learning Center, Keith Douglas of the Butts County Board of Commissioners, Danny Edmonds of State Farm Insurance, Tim Haley of Smith Welch & Brittain, Herbert Head of the Butts County Water & Sewer Authority, Pamela Head of Butts County Disabilities Center, Rod Henderson of Paul W. Heard & Company, Mark Janeczek of Sunrise Flooring Company, Kimberly LeCroy of 911 Center, Donald Mapp of Georgia Power Company, Bill Mauldin of Georgia Distillery, Chad Morgan of McIntosh State Bank, Hazel Newman of Volunteers, Melissa O'Dell of Central Georgia EMC, Debra Patterson of Butts County Schools, Brian Polk of Atlanta South, Elaine Powell of CERF, and John Rainwater of United Bank.
The graduation program was held at the Stark United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall and began with a buffet banquet prepared by Lee Anne Jackson of E's Specialties Catering. Al Jordan and Sheri Willis, co-chairs of the 2010 Leadership Committee, welcomed the class members, their families, and members of previous Leadership Butts County classes dating back to 1996. They presented a Power-Point of "Words to Lead By" quotations.
Donald Mapp talked with pride of the class project; the class renovated the Butts County Disabilities Center at 415 Ernest Biles Drive. The Leadership Class worked together pruning shrubs and planting flowers, painting gutters and downspouts to match the new roof, pressure washing the gazebo behind the building, and putting up green shutters in front. R & B Metals constructed a covered walkway so that persons can now enter the building from the rear entrance without having to get out in the rain, a convenience for many of the disabled individuals who work at the center. Some new interior doors and adjustments to existing doors were also provided. Altogether, the class sought to create a more attractive, pleasant and functional atmosphere at the Butts County Disabilities Center through its efforts.
"It was not an earth-shattering project, " said Mapp. "But it was a great opportunity to work as a team and to accomplish something we're proud of."
Representing the Developmental Disabilities Boosters, David Haisten thanked the Leadership Class both for the physical improvements to the center and also for raising the awareness of the center in the community.
The featured speaker for the evening was Dr. Alan White, Butts County administrator and director of Butts County Industrial Development Authority. He provided statistics on Butts County and its citizens. He said it is the 16th smallest of the 159 counties in Georgia with 190 square miles. There are 24,000 people in Butts County; 4,500 people in Jackson; 696 people in Flovilla; and 295 people in the Jenkinsburg city limits. There are 146 farms in the county, but 40 percent are less than 50 acres.
According to White, taxes in Butts County are the 16th highest of the 159 counties, largely due to the county debt caused by two loans on the jail. The are 450 businesses in Butts County, and 7,924 people in Butts County are employed, but 55 percent of employed Butts Countians leave the county to work. There has been $12,473,000 spent in Butts County on the lottery.
Sponsors of the Leadership program include United Bank, Georgia Power Company, McIntosh State Bank, and Central Georgia EMC. Piggly Wiggly of Jackson provided breakfast for the class members before each class.
The program ended with the 14th graduating class of Leadership Butts County receiving plaques and applause. Dr. Toni Clark has agreed to chair Leadership Butts County 2011. The Leadership Committee hopes to bring back a Youth Leadership class in 2011 and hold its graduation jointly with the adult class.