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Friday, November 23, 2018

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, NOVEMBER 23, 2018

FIVE REASONS I'M THANKFUL IN 2018

All too often we take so many things in life for granted. The more advanced the years, the more I believe that a good life is really pretty basic: when you boil it all down, the important things are your health, your family's health and having good friends.

So, here are five reasons I am thankful at the beginning of this holiday season:

HEALING SOUTHWEST GEORGIA

1. The Legislature just spent a week studying the ravages of Hurricane Michael on Southwest Georgia and trying to find ways to materially help residents, farmers, landowners and small businesses survive and recover from the storm.

It just made you cringe to see eye-popping photos and read of the devastation of the timberlands, crops, homes and businesses. The combination of 5 years of depressed crop prices, population loss and the struggles all of rural Georgia are facing made the timing of the storm particularly debilitating.

The Fourth District was so fortunate to have dodged the high winds, downed trees and flooding those areas suffered. I hope we're all sending some help over their way as we can.

RESPONSE FROM THE CARING

2. Seeing the response from individuals, churches, non-profits, businesses and communities to the need in SW Georgia reminds me of how every catastrophe brings out the best in people. With every storm, accident or other crisis, people respond.

You see collection boxes crop up in grocery stores, social media starts to draw interest and contributions, people with chainsaws and heavy equipment get involved and even children get in the action sometimes collecting for those in need.

The Red Cross is the institution that always responds, along with many religious groups like the Southern Baptist Convention. Many individuals volunteer to work with these groups who are always on the front lines. It is that response that makes me so thankful.

GEORGIA ABLE TO HELP

3. I'm thankful the State of Georgia is doing so well economically. When we were figuring out how to help SW Georgia last week, what was particularly gratifying was the fact the state had the money to provide assistance. We did not have to make a decision on assistance based on our ability to help, but solely on what was needed by those residents and communities.

Georgia's current prosperity is at a high level, a fact that stands out when we compare to other states. We have so much to be thankful for in increasing jobs and rising wages.

SERVANT LEADERS

4. We all should be thankful for Governor and Mrs. Deal. They have served so well for the last 8 years and Georgia has reaped the benefit of their energy and involvement in promoting our state.

Mrs. Sandra Deal has visited hundreds of elementary and middle schools all over the state, in every county, reading to children and encouraging youngsters to read. A former middle grades teacher, she even continued her activities while undergoing chemotherapy. She also headed a commission that has looked into issues our senior citizens face and has been involved in legislation benefitting seniors.

Governor Deal will be remembered for bringing judicial reform to Georgia and working to help inmates get further education in prison and employment when they leave prison. He has promoted and funded Accountability Courts that have helped keep non-violent offenders out of jail cells and insured they are heading in the right direction.

And no one could have done more to promote our state than Gov. Deal. Hundreds of thousands of new jobs have been created during his term and Georgia was named "The Best Business Climate" for the 6th straight year.

Additionally the Deal Administration restored austerity cuts to education in the hundreds of millions of dollars and fully funded the education formula.

LOCAL NEWS MEDIA ARE TOPS

5. And finally, I'm thankful for the tremendous job that local newspapers and radio stations do in not just providing the local news, but in the many ways they support worthwhile community activities. When you read a local newspaper, you get news from churches, school activities, recreation schedules and results, local sports coverages and heart-warming stories of neighbors helping neighbors.

So much of what they publish is free of charge and fulfills a public service. Throughout the year, they will salute high school athletes, veterans, first responders, law enforcement, seniors, children ("citizens of tomorrow"), and local events and festivals. One newspaper sponsors a first class evening with wide publicity honoring citizens who have served the community the past year.

You can't beat local radio stations for getting the word out quickly, for local school sports coverage and news. One station even had a radiothon to raise money to help their local rural hospital for the second year in a row. They cover parades and provide on the spot coverages of new businesses.

Newspapers and radio stations provide important, vital services to cities and counties. There is no substitute for what they bring to a community and I'm thankful.

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