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Cities Week kicks off with art opening, speakers
Sonny Dixon addresses local business leaders Monday during Richmond Hills annual Business Breakfast at the Richmond Hill City Center. - photo by Crissie Elric

Pembroke and Richmond Hill joined dozens of other municipalities throughout the state this week as the Georgia Municipal Association’s annual Cities Week celebration began Sunday.
Events to kick off the week included an art exhibit opening and employee appreciation luncheon in Pembroke and an annual business breakfast in Richmond Hill with guest speaker Sonny Dixon.
In Pembroke, officials celebrated Sunday the inaugural art exhibit, Pembroke Through My Eyes, which featured more than 120 entries of photographs, paintings, drawings and more from students in North Bryan schools and community members depicting their view of the city. The exhibit also featured historical photographs of Pembroke.
Special guests 1st Congressional District Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., state Rep. Jan Tankersley, R-Brooklet, and state Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, were on hand to celebrate.
Kingston told the crowd of about 75 that music and arts had a huge impact on his children. He used that example to further emphasize the importance of fine arts in education.
“Your education really isn’t complete without art and without culture. And it doesn’t matter how big or small your community is or what age you are, we all need to have that part of our lives,” Kingston said. “So the fact that Pembroke is doing this … I applaud you. I think it’s going to make your town better as a result of it because it’s going to raise a very good generation of children.”
Carter said the art exhibit served as a way for the community to display its heritage and history.
“The people that live here are proud people, and to know your history is so very important for all cities, particularly for a city like Pembroke, where there is so much heritage and tradition,” Carter said. “It is very important for cities like this to make sure their heritage is known, and this is a great way of doing it. This is very impressive and I think this will serve the city for many years to come.”
Mayor Mary Warnell said the city decided to do something different for Cities Week rather than the annual essay contest in which local students wrote what they would do if they were mayor for a day. She enjoyed looking at the students’ artwork, she said.
“I like the way the children have pulled together things they know about Pembroke with different businesses. You’ll see Alco mentioned, Subway mentioned — and notice the common thread is food in most places,” she said with a laugh.
own as the “old pharmacy” next to the theater.
In Richmond Hill, officials kicked off the weeklong celebration with its annual Business Breakfast at the Richmond Hill City Center.
Guest speaker Sonny Dixon entertained more than 50 attendees with his experience in politics and how important their service is to cities.
“The primary focus of Georgia Cities Week is those who are constitutionally authorized and empowered to serve the people according to their own wishes to the level they desire,” Dixon said.
Dixon told the group of city, county and state officials and local business leaders that serving as an elected official can be tough because of the perception of “dirty politicians.”
“I can get a little upset when people are fussing about things and it’s detrimental to the overall good, because I know how much good there is in Bryan County, generally, and in Richmond Hill specifically, where we’re gathered today,” Dixon said.
“And yet you get these people who will fuss and moan and carry on about whatever it is, maybe it’s a zoning decision, a school location … and they start saying ugly stuff and start tearing people down and start collectively harming the good of everybody. There is no room for that in Georgia cities, and there is especially no room for that in Richmond Hill and Pembroke and the rest of Bryan County.”
He also quoted the late Sam Rayburn, a former Speaker of the House of U.S. Representatives.
“He said ‘Any jackass can kick down a barn door, but it takes a carpenter to build one.’ We need a lot less jackasses and a lot more carpenters to ensure that our counties are getting the leadership they deserve,” Dixon said. “It’s not easy (to serve as a public official) — folks doubt you and you get unfunded mandates out of Washington, D.C., and out of Atlanta, Ga., and yet you’ve just got to continue to try.”

Read more in the April 24 edition of the News.

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