Richmond Hill is represented in the Georgia General Assembly by Ron Stephens, whom I have had the privilege to work with and find to be a kind, dedicated man who always sees the larger picture.
I believe he is a man with a desire to create and spread success throughout Georgia, and through his efforts he enhances ours.
Ron said training for his role as a state representative came early. His family taught him the values of hard work and helping others.
The family of Irish immigrants, including his great grandparents, and grandparents, farmed Vidalia onions in Lyons and proudly sent Ron to college, the first in the family to go.
He loved chemistry and biology, natural fits for becoming a pharmacist, a business that provided interaction with others, a profession that let him satisfy his desire to help people. The lessons and realizations made him successful in politics, whose goal for him, as he explained, is, ”the business of providing help, opportunity and the ability to, hopefully, enrich the lives of others.”
Decency. Ron said he learnt this lesson from his mother. “My mom was an amazing lady,” he said. “She could size up people quickly. Her opinions were usually right.” She taught decency by example. When his brother was entering third grade at Port Wentworth Elementary School they hired a black teacher, Dorothy Pelote. A mob arrived at the principal’s office to take children out of the school. His mother, Mildred, quieted people down and asked a simple question, was she a good teacher?
Ron said the principal told her “yes, a very good teacher.”
His mother said she wanted the very best teacher and ended the problem by having her son go into that third grade class.
“Another lesson, give the best, get the best.”
From his father he learned marketing skills that would serve him well as a businessman, entrepreneur and politician. His dad lent him their lawn mower and told him, “go get jobs cutting grass, market yourself, make a deal!
Lessons learned, lessons passed on and used governing.
Representative Stephens, known to so many as Ron, serves on the Economic Development and Tourism Committee as chairman, the Ways and Means Committee and the Rules Committee in the Georgia House of Representatives. Largely due to his representation on these committees, our area is flourishing.
The widening of Highway 144 and the new interchange at Belfast Keller Road were needed to make travel safer and faster for those using them. These in turn will encourage services to continue to come to this area of Bryan County. More business, success and managing an influx of new residents and tourism.
Because of his foresight and persistence, tax credits for filming in Georgia has made Georgia number one in film production in the United States. Twelve films have been filmed right here in Bryan County. Films like Glory, The General’s Daughter, Four Senses, Birth of a Nation and Emperor as well as series for TV Underground: Z:The Beginning; TV films, Underground Railroad, Cricket’s Dance, Savannah Hauntings and Alice.
Movies and now more focus on tourism bring people and their dollars to our community. I believe that thanks to Representative Stephens’ foresight, film production is an amazing money maker for this area, providing set locations, extras, catering, sleeping facilities, carpenters, needed products and excellent access. All this adding to profitability and success in Bryan County.
The murals painted on buildings honoring our history, the new signage identifying where to go in Richmond Hill, grants for improving building facades to enhance the look of Richmond Hill, making it inviting to those who live in the city as well as for those who pass through, encouraging business, new businesses and families to move into and shop in South Bryan county.
Support from the state government and the various committees that Ron serves on helps our Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Richmond Hill Downtown Development Authority, and our historic sites such as the Richmond Hill History Museum and Fort McAllister. Our area is becoming known for its dining, art community and tourism. It is already known for its growing success, supporting businesses and inviting atmosphere.
As we talked, I asked Ron what he’ll do when he retires. His answer didn’t surprise me.
“I’ll be involved in something that helps people. Decent jobs allow people to stay in the area. I need to go out and help others as I’ve been taught to do”.
Brazer, a resident of Ford Plantation, is a longtime local volunteer and serves as chairwoman of the Richmond Hill Downtown Development Authority.