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It takes a village to have a village
From the editor
Jeff Whitten NEW
Jeff Whitten is managing editor of the News. - photo by File photo

As always, I’m a day late and a dollar short when it comes to writing columns for the editorial page.

This is partly because I think this space needs to be devoted to local issues of the day. But whether it’s a lack of infrastructure or big dollar efforts to turn Georgia’s once relatively wild coast into a bedroom community, or all that lies in between, I have a hard time keeping focus.

However, I also tend to procrastinate. Mix that in with the snowstorm of the century, Alabama’s thrilling win over Georgia and Jacksonville’s run in the AFC playoffs and I haven’t had time to turn around, so this took a back burner.

No more. In coming weeks, I aim to highlight some up-and-coming folks who just might make a name for themselves one day, right here in Bryan County.

Up and comers like the irrepressible Freddy Howell, for a start. You might know him as the ever cheerful head of Bryan County Emergency Services, and he is that.

He’s also an online radio station owner and a budding online video star, too. His ability to connect with folks in the community — coupled with his tireless efforts to serve them and play them country music and high school sports — haven’t gone unnoticed, even if he is from Waycross. If I had one suggestion, I’d tell Freddy he needs to get a ventriloquist’s dummy into the act somehow. Even if he doesn’t, keep an eye on Freddy. He has the keys to all the county’s fire trucks.

Then there’s Russ Carpenter, high school government teacher and hometown boy made good. Russ is now mayor of the booming city he grew up in, and, Beatles haircut included, he’s kind of what I think of when I think of Richmond Hill. Namely, a growing young city with room to accommodate diversity in most of its legal forms, just so all that diversity looks like Hilton Head if Henry Ford invented it.

Russ and I may not always agree when it comes to politics, but he’s never held that against me. I respect that, having known some folks who seem to think you ought to think the way they think or hit the road.

So keep an eye on Russ, too. He might be governor one day. Or worse.

But first he’ll have to beat District 1 County Commissioner Noah Covington, the King of North Bryan. Noah, another potential future governor, is one of my favorite elected officials largely because he’s always seemed honest to the Nth degree, but also because his beard and girth make him look like one of The Three Tenors. In fact, put tuxes on Covington, Commission Chairman Carter "That’s right" Infinger and swanky District 3 Commissioner Steve Myers, and you’ve got a sort of Three Tenors right there. What’s more, I bet all three already have tuxes.

But I digress. This was about up and comers, not the fun I hope to have in 2018 writing about county commissioners. So, let’s also keep an eye on youngsters like Wendy Sims, the kindest public servant ever to serve the public in her role as director of Bryan County Family Connection. If you don’t know Wendy, you should.

Same goes for Dave Williams, who runs Gateway Services in Bryan County. Dave, who was honored a few years ago as the United Way’s top volunteer, never stops giving of himself. He’s not exactly young, either, but you’d never know it by following him around.

On the flip side, Alex Floyd is young, hip and he’s also the new city administrator in Pembroke. Floyd’s a good find for Pembroke. I’m on his Christmas card list, so he’s running for something. Stay tuned.

And how about Kristi Cox, who not only heads up United Way but is also married to Allen, the guy who makes sure we don’t run out of school buses.

And not only that, but the Coxes are devoted parents and adoptive parents of some pretty special kids. They should be on my Christmas card list.

I’m running out of space for this week, but stay tuned. After all, it takes a village to make a village.

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