Community leaders to gather at retreat in Thomasville next week

The Archway Partnership has organized a community leadership retreat for next week, but it appears the number of leaders who attend will be limited. The retreat is being planned at the request of local leaders.
Invitations to the members of the Grady County Commission, Cairo City Council, Whigham City Council, Grady County Board of Education and the Grady County Lake Authority have been extended.
Archway has arranged to have a facilitator from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the retreat, which will be held at the main campus of Southern Regional Technical College in Thomasville next Friday, April 13, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
As of Tuesday, only two representatives of the county commission are confirmed to attend, Vice Chairman T.D. David and County Clerk Carrie Croy. Commission Chairman Ray Prince is planning to attend, but he was recently injured in an accident on his farm and plans to attend if his health permits. According to Croy, Commissioners LaFaye Copeland and Keith Moye will not be in attendance and Commissioner June Knight has not committed to coming.
A similar response from the two city councils is expected. According to Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton, the only two members of the council confirmed to join him at the retreat are Mayor Booker Gainor and Councilman Demario Byrden. The city manager reports that Councilmen James H. (Jimmy) Douglas and Jerry Cox have schedule conflicts and Councilmen Bobby Gwaltney and Lannis Thornton have work conflicts.
Whigham City Clerk Lisa Calhoun reports Mayor George Trulock and Councilman Trey Gainous are confirmed to attend and represent the City of Whigham.
Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard is planning to attend and all five school board members have indicated they plan to attend, according to the superintendent.
Also invited to attend are representatives of the Grady County Joint Development Authority, the Cairo-Grady County Chamber of Commerce and the Grady County Lake Authority.
Serving as the facilitator will be Leigh Askew, senior public service associate with the Vinson Institute, who joined the institute’s Planning and Environmental Services Unit in 2012.
Askew’s primary focus, according to Archway Professional Betsy McGriff, is to help communities creatively integrate natural resource planning with community and economic development opportunities, often referred to as asset-based community development. With extensive experience in designing and implementing public engagement processes, she regularly engages in planning at a variety of scales, community visioning, and strategic planning. Her previous experience includes seven years with the UGA Fanning Institute, where she facilitated and managed the public input process for the Statewide Water Management Plan.
Prior to joining the University, Askew spent four years at the Georgia Department of Community Affairs where she created and implemented the WaterFirst Community Program. Askew received her degree in Environmental Analysis and Policy from Boston University and her Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia.

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