Friday, March 5, 2010

Patriot Park

As you drive through Watkinsville, you might notice a small triangle of land in front of Jittery Joe's that used to be an eyesore has been transformed over the past few years into a small greenspace called "Patriot Park" that also has a memorial to Oconee County's revolutionary war soldiers. This has been done thanks to the good works of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, who are a very active civic group that is doing some great things in the area.

The formal dedication for the park will be this Sunday at 2 p.m., and all community members are invited to attend. Details are in the press release below. Many more details are in the press release below.
Contact: Emily Givens,

The Reverend John Andrew Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution will formally dedicate PATRIOT PARK, a memorial greenspace honoring the heroic efforts of Revolutionary War patriots buried in Oconee County, on Sunday, March 7, 2010 at 2 p.m. The ceremony, with a reception following, will take place on the park grounds, located at 27 Greensboro Highway in Watkinsville, Georgia. The greenspace occupies the small plat of land that intersects South Main Street and the Greensboro Highway. Patriot Park is directly in front of Watkinsville’s Jittery Joes coffeehouse.

Brigadier General Maria L. Britt will be the keynote speaker and recipient of the NSDAR Women in History award. She is the first female Commanding Officer of the Georgia Army National Guard in the Guards’ 273 year history. Brigadier General Maria L. Britt is a native of Gloversville, New York and was commissioned from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York a Second Lieutenant in May 1983. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in General Engineering and a Master of Science Degree in Strategic Intelligence from the Joint Military Intelligence College, Defense Intelligence Agency, Bolling AFB, Washington D.C. BG Britt is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA., and has a second Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies.

On hand to present the award will be the Georgia State Society DAR Regent Mrs. W. Franklin Chastain. Other state and local dignitaries will also be in attendance and additional NSDAR awards will be presented, including a Community Service Award.

The Elijah Clark Militia and the award-winning Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard will be in attendance in colonial dress.

Ample parking will be available behind the Golden Pantry and across the street.

Patriot Park is filled with native and historical plants of Georgia. From the memorial granite monument that will be unveiled at the foremost point, to the roster of Patriot names gracing the entrance, the landscaping gradually increases in height from dwarf yaupon hollies, ornamental grasses, through white flowering dogwoods and to the back most point, the October Glory Maples. Knockout Roses, though not natives, are included to complement Watkinsville’s streetscape roses. Virginia Sweetspire and fragrant August Beauty Gardenia offer the beauty of spring and summer blooms of white.

Work on the Patriot Park garden began in the fall of 2008. A nearly $15,000 project, from the initial design plans to the plants and labor, the park has been financed by generous donations from individuals and local Watkinsville businesses

Patriot Park has received significant support from the community. The Rev. John Andrew Chapter, NSDAR, would like to extend special thanks to: Jim Flanagan, Allen Ward of Jittery Joes, Steve Brown, Cole Brown, Peter Givens, Jim Bennewitz, Bill Douglas, Chris Swann of Lotus Landscapes, Outdoor Specialty, Hancock Construction, Athens Area Master Gardeners, City of Watkinsville, Industrial Mechanical Inc., Southeastern Growers, Bridge Creek Nursery, Nasworthy Landscaping, The Stone Store, Boyd Granite Company, Inc, and Graphic Communications Corporation for their assistance.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C in a building encompassing an entire city-block, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) was founded in 1890 and is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America's future through better education for children. Any woman 18 years or older-regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background-who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, is eligible for membership.

The Watkinsville chapter was founded on June 25, 2007 and is the youngest in the Georgia State Society NSDAR. The chapter meets monthly August through May, at the Oconee Library. To find out more about the DAR and genealogical research contact local Regent Dana Anderson at or visit

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Reverend John Andrew Chapter

National Society Daughters of the American Revolution


Revolutionary Patriots buried in Oconee County, Georgia

Rev. John Andrew, (24 Sept 1758-10 Mar 1830), Mt. Zion Cemetery off U. S. Highway 441 S

John Barnett, (7 June 1762-10 Mar 1814), Buried in family cemetery off Barnett Shoals Rd.

William Scott Branch, (1765-1839), Branch Cemetery off U. S. Highway 441. 1 mile south of Bishop, GA

Stephen Crow, (28 Feb 1750-8 Aug 1830), Mars Hills Baptist Church Cemetery

William Daniell, (d. 5 Sept 1840), Mars Hills Baptist Church Cemetery

David Elder, (7 Jan. 1760-4 Aug. 1853), Elder Cemetery off Elder Mill Rd.

Anderson Fambrough, (10 Jan 1759-8 Nov 1815), Fambrough Cemetery off U. S. Hwy 15 S near Green County line

James Greer, (15 Jan 1742-ante 5 Sept 1825), Buried on the Greer family land off GA Hwy 53

Ben Hagood lived in Oconee County but was buried in Hancock County, GA. There is a memorial stone in the cemetery at Mars Hill Baptist Church

Moses Hopkins, (1760-6 Jan 1810), Mars Hills Baptist Church Cemetery

John Nunnally, (12 Feb 1758-10 June 1825), Nunnally Cemetery on Bishop Rd.

James Sloan, (1744-1808)

John Stroud, (1732-1805), Mars Hills Baptist Church Cemetery

Philip Tigner, (12 Feb 1758-10 June 1825). Buried in family cemetery on Beechnut Lane, near Elder Covered Bridge.

William Willoughby, (24 Sept 1759-ante 2 Nov 1829), Presumed to be buried at Antioch Christian Church, Antioch Church Rd.

About Brigadier General, Maria Britt; Commanding General, Georgia Army National Guard:

Brigadier General Maria L. Britt is a native of Gloversville, New York and was commissioned from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York a Second Lieutenant in May 1983. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in General Engineering and a Master of Science Degree in Strategic Intelligence from the Joint Military Intelligence College, Defense Intelligence Agency, Bolling AFB, Washington D.C. BG Britt is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA., and has a second Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies.

Her military education includes the Military Police Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the U.S. Army Jungle Warfare School, the Command and General Staff College, the Post Graduate Intelligence Program for Reserves, the Military Intelligence Officer Transition Course, the Military Intelligence Advanced Course for Reserves, the Military Intelligence Battalion Pre-Command Course, the Recruiting and Retention Management Course, the Joint Task Force Commander's Course and the Defense Support to Civil Authorities Course.

Brigadier General Britt’s assignments have included Platoon Leader, 411th MP Company, 720th MP Battalion; Executive Officer, Law Enforcement Activity, 89th Military Police Brigade; Field Operations Officer, 3rd Region Criminal Investigation Division; Company Commander, Military Police Company (FORSCOM Honor Guard) Ft McPherson, GA; Deputy Provost Marshall, Ft McPherson, GA; Security and Intelligence Officer, Headquarters STARC; Program and Support Specialist, HQ STARC; S-1 (Adjutant), 48th Infantry Brigade (M); Deputy Chief of Staff for Organizational Improvement; HQ STARC and Training Officer, HQ STARC; Commander of the 221st Military Intelligence Battalion (Tactical Exploitation), Fort Gillem; Commander of the Recruiting and Retention Force and Director of Personnel for the Georgia Army National Guard; the COS of the Georgia Army National Guard. BG Maria Britt is currently assigned as the Commanding General, Georgia Army National Guard.

Among Brigadier General Britt’s awards and decorations are the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters and the National Defense Service Medal.

She is married to Brigadier General Timothy B. Britt. They have three daughters.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Doctor's Orders

The Athens Banner-Herald pulled some of these in its article this morning, but I wanted to post Doc Eldridge's full comments from yesterday's Terry College Economic Outlook Luncheon at the Classic Center. Doc's role as a lifelong Athenian, former mayor and current Chamber head give him a full perspective on the impact of the potential cuts at UGA. The highlights are his, not mine.

Let's hope our legislators listen to "their Doctor" in this case.

>First off, what I am about to say is not at the request of UGA, the Board of Regents, or anyone affiliated with any of the University system.

What I am about to say is not a formal position of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, although I would assume and hope that our board would fully support it.

What I want to say comes from me… Doc. As a lifelong resident of this community, a business person and a former elected official, I, like you, have come to understand and appreciate just how vital the economic health of the University of Georgia is to our community, our region, our state , and yes well beyond. When UGA sneezes … we get a cold.

We are in fact joined at the hip with UGA, and both UGA and our community have worked hard over the years at strengthening our "town and gown" relationships.

Well folks, our friends on the other side of the Arch need our support now, like they have never needed it before.

The budget cuts that have taken place over the last 2 years and that have recently been proposed will have a disastrous effect on UGA, our state, and our community for decades to come. The problems will manifest themselves in countless ways.

We are talking about slashing the budget of not just bricks and sticks, we are talking about jobs, entire programs, people and their families. We are talking about the biggest and best investment our state has to offer for the creation of good decent paying jobs and economic opportunity. I hope you don't think I am exaggerating. This is serious stuff.

Let me be clear. I have the utmost respect for our local delegation to the legislature and I urge you to show them the same. I know the personal sacrifices that they make to their business and to their family in order to serve us. There is no one in this room or beyond that hates what is happening any worse than they do. They are fighting on our behalf every day.

I am not asking you to flood them with emails, phone calls, and faxes telling them what to do. I am asking you to offer your support for finding the means necessary to restore funding to the University system. There are options. I am asking you to share with them your ideas, and to show your appreciation for the tough position that they are in. I would hate to think where we might be right now without the leadership and hard work of Senators Cowsert and Hudgins, and Representatives Heard, Smith, and McKillip.

This is not about Democrats and Republicans. This is about the future. Our future. The future of UGA and its' academic standing, about jobs, about our community and our state.

I am saying this to you today as you are the true civic, and business leaders, leaders of our community. We need you to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and help get our train back on track. This can be one of the defining times for our community and its future. This is a time for more than griping and gnashing our teeth This, I guess, is indeed a call to action.

Thank each of you for all that you have done and continue to do for our community …. and Go Dogs.

A lot going on

There is an enormous amount of news swirling about in the political world. A few thoughts:

Higher Education Budget Cuts
  • The number one thing on everyone's mind locally is the potential $300 million cuts to higher education ordered by the state legislature in 48 hours, which was requested on top of huge cuts already done by most of the state's public colleges and universities. Details here, here, here, here and a million other places. I for one support some revenue raising -- the $1 per pack tax on cigarettes, bringing back a 1/2 or 1 percent sales tax on groceries, and a market-driven tuition raise -- to offset the slash and burn mentality that is going to do untold harm to higher education and healthcare in this state. Would you rather pay $1 on a $100 grocery bill or potentially have your child miss out on higher education due to required reductions in enrollment across the state by massive budget cuts? Easy choice for me, and I think for most Georgians, especially if we could dedicate the revenue to higher education rather than sending it to the black hole of the general fund.
  • I find it laughable that the very state legislators who asked the Board of Regents to come up with $300 million in potential cuts in just a few days then come back and accuse UGA and others of playing political games with the process. Really?
  • So Gubernatorial candidate Austin Scott implies that 4-H is more important than the basic functions of the University. 4-H is a wonderful program that should be preserved (I had a lot of friends in school who benefited -- and even met future spouses -- through the program). But preserving the core function of higher education at an institution of higher education is more important than service and outreach. The real question is whether 4-H should be housed and funded independently of higher education, or perhaps in the department of agriculture.
  • Rep Scott states that "agriculture is Georgia’s major economic driver and vital to the success of our economy." Newsflash: could there be any institution more committed to the health of agriculture in the state (and even the nation) than the University of Georgia? UGA research is probably the reason that Georgia still is an agricultural leader. Better and larger poultry, healthy large animials, more bountiful crops, and new types of profitable turfgrass, alternative crops and ornamental plants have come from research at UGA that could be dramatically impacted by proposed budget cuts. The beneficiaries of this research are not the professors in the labs, but landowners and farmers across the state.
  • Rep. Scott also decides to play with the numbers a bit in his comments on Peach Pundit here. Okay, so the Regents' budget has gone up, from $5.2 billion to $5.4 billion while other budgets have gone down. Want to know why? Because our institutions of higher education have done what businesses do when a key revenue source (state funds) is consistently shrinking -- they have aggressively pursued revenue from other sources, namely private fund raising and federal grants. This year, UGA will receive about the same amount of state funds it did in 2002. And if the funding cuts proposed by the Governor and the additional $60 million cuts requested by the legislature took effect, UGA would get the same funding in fiscal year 2011 as it received from the state 13 years ago (1997), with thousands more students to educate, new facilities to maintain and inflation to deal with.
  • I really like some of the things Rep. Scott says on his website, and have high hopes for him. But his approach to this higher education debate could be a credibility killer. I have no doubt there are inefficiencies in higher education, as there are in any large organization. But after years of state budget cuts, most of those have been wrung out of the system. There may be a few more, but not $300 million more, and the damage we are doing to higher education -- the one area of education that is working well in our state -- is staggering.
  • Full disclosure: my company, Jackson Spalding, does limited project work a few units of the University of Georgia and also works with the Georgia Research Alliance, which helps fund research jobs and infrastructure at the state's six research institutions.
Some Good News
  • Athens has two exciting new sports events on the horizon this fall: a new sprint triathlon called the Tri to Beat Cancer, which will benefit the Cancer Foundation of Northeast Georgia, and a new half marathon, which will benefit Ath Fest. Athens has a long history in participatory sports that has waned somewhat in recent years -- it is good to see large scale, high profile events returning.
  • As you drive down Hog Mountain Road, check out the new trees going in at Veterans Park. Talk about a change! They were provided by Select Trees, a local nursery, and will leave quite a legacy at the Park. Kudos to the BOC for this investment. BTW, to connect the dots with the above points, Select Trees is one of those agricultural organizations that has been successful largely because of UGA-driven agricultural research.
  • There is still discussion of a park around Elder Mill and Elder Mill covered bridge. This would be a wise use of county funds if it could be pulled off. Lee Becker and the Oconee Enterprise have also covered the topic extensively. Oconee County doesn't have as much tangible history as a lot of other communities -- what we do have needs to be preserved when it is available, especially if we have excess SPLOST funds that could be so utilized. If we don't have SPLOST funds, then this obviously isn't the kind of economy where you can allocate annual budget resources to such a large effort.
Let me know what you think.