A New Beginning…..and a big THANK YOU!

December 26, 2013

And the clock is winding down, as there are only days left until the City of Macon is dissolved, and our two local governments become one. A goal that has been sought for over 100 years – consolidating Macon and Bibb County into one government – will become a reality on January 1, 2014. A new beginning for our community is just around the corner. As we approach this historic moment for our community, there are so many people who should be thanked:

-Our currently elected local officials (whether they supported consolidation or not) who have been required to figure out how to make the merger work;

-The administrative staffs of both the city and county, particularly Steve Layson and Dale Walker, the chief administrative officers of the County and City respectively; Deborah Martin and Meghan McMahon, Finance Directors for the County and City, and Bel Wall and Ben Hubbard, Human Resource Directors for the County and City. These directors, and their hard working staff, deserve the most credit for being the “boots on the ground” by implementing the merger process;

-Sheriff David Davis and Police Chief Mike Carswell, who faced the monumental task of merging our two law enforcement agencies, and from all indications, have done a remarkable job preparing to become one unit. -The Middle Georgia Regional Commission, led by Executive Director Ralph Nix and Deputy Directors Laura Mathis and Brent Lanford, as well as IT specialist Nick Kouloungis. They, and their teams, have worked diligently to address every issue, both large and small, which must be dealt with before the merger can happen. They have been a tremendous resource of advice, wisdom, and counsel during the entire transition.

-Countless citizens, both black, brown, and white; rich, poor and in between; city residents and those in the county; Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents, who took the risk to stand up for a cause they deeply believed in – unifying our community – in spite of harsh criticism and even economic loss from many who opposed the merger.

My final thank you must be given to the real unsung heroes of this merger process – the Super Six volunteers who served on the Transition Task Force for the last 18 months – Jeffrey Monroe, Pearlie Toliver, Bill Underwood, Miriam Paris, Roy Fickling and Leonard Bevill. While the Task Force had other members who worked extremely hard – Chairwoman Nikki Randall did an incredible job leading this group – these six unelected volunteers all served without pay, recognition, or obligation, and worked countless hours, because they felt strongly about making sure the transition was handled professionally and efficiently. These citizens deserve a huge “shout out”, and I hope all of Macon-Bibb will take the opportunity to thank them for their selfless dedication and service.

It is indeed a new day for our community. We have the rare opportunity to start fresh, put the divisions that have separated us over the years behind us, and focus on what we can become in Middle Georgia – a united community with a unique, diverse population which desires a strong quality of life, combined with a growing economic base.

We are literally the heart of Georgia, and it is our time to shine.