You get only one chance to make a positive first impression, and this past week Donalsonville and Seminole County really rolled out the red carpet and impressed the heck out of the Georgia Resource Team visitors. A big thank you goes out to everyone – City, County, Downtown Development Authority and individuals who helped clean up our town and county roads and contributed funds for this event.
The State Resource Team was truly amazed by all this county and city has to offer! Some of the comments were, “You have a lot of businesses in this town.” “Donalsonville looks so much better than the last time I was here.” (This comment was about the trees, benches, trash cans, street signs done by the BetterWay Project.) “You have a lot of potential here.”
The resource team included Cindy Eidson from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Tracie Sanchez from the Community Affairs Department’s Trails and Recreation division, Bruce Green representing Community Development, Tina Lilly from the Georgia Council for Arts, Craig Dominey representing the Georgia Film Industry, Gina Webb from the Department of Community Affairs representing Community Development, Jerry Connell from Georgia Grown Trails and Cindy Norton from the Georgia Department of Agriculture, each representing Agritourism.
Arriving in town Tuesday morning, April 24, the group embarked on a downtown walking and golf cart tour of Donalsonville which included Second Street, Cherry Street, Woolfork, Tennille and Wiley Avenues, the Olive Theater, Donalsonville News Museum, the historic Police Station replica and the ABAC-Bainbridge College facility. A driving tour followed, giving the visitor a viewing of the community’s historic churches and homes, the Seminole County Recreation Department Complex, Seminole County schools, Friendship House, the historic section of Friendship Cemetery, the new fire station, Donalsonville Hospital, new construction of the SunSouth facility, Donalsonville Country Club and others.
The blighted driving tour followed with the viewing of vacant downtown properties, the railroad property, the south side of First Street, the Drake shopping center property, and the vacant school on Sixth Street. The evening concluded with a tour of the now vacant historic downtown fire house – staged for the visitors with a Fine Arts Show and as the potential home for a community museum, art gallery, and events venue. Dinner at Jill’s Bistro and Supper Club ended the evening with the guests leaving for their overnight accommodations at Pine Hill Plantation.
“The finale for the first day with the visitors was a huge success,” commented Chamber President Karen Kimbrel. “The Art Show and reception at the historic fire station presented our visitors with a large crowd of locals and entertainment by the Seminole County Elementary Seminole Singers. These third, fourth and fifth graders put on a first class show! Our visitors commented that they had never been welcomed in such a grand way. They also saw an amazing art exhibit that was created by local artists. Everyone needs to drop by and see this wonderful exhibit.”
On Wednesday, April 25 the group was treated to a tour of Seminole State Park with Jason Parker, a visit and tour of Trail’s End Resort and houseboat community, Spring Creek Baptist Church and the Alday graves, Reynolds Landing, a two-hour pontoon boat cruise and a tour of Spring Creek Park and Resort. The evening concluded with dinner at Big Jim’s.
On Thursday, April 25 the team visited Iron City with stops in the county’s olive groves and at Spring Creek. A delicious lunch was provided by the Iron City Ladies Club and held at the Iron City Community Center. Local talents Steve Cross and Robin Tillery entertained the visitors during lunch with their amazing talents. The day concluded with a tour of farms and Seminole County’s agricultural engine and a very informative tour of Lewis M. Carter Manufacturing.
“It was truly an amazing three days as we saw our community through the eyes of strangers and experts in their designated fields,” added Kimbrel. The State Resource Team will return here to give their report in July 2018. We will notify the public when and where – look for notice in the Donalsonville News.
A huge thank you goes out to the following for making this event possible: David Maxwell, Virginia Harrison, Sarah Avery, Beverly and Joe Burke, Reed Rognstad, Jason Parker, Sheila Williams, Darrius and Rosalind Culverson, Billy and Karen Kimbrel, The Seminole Singers, Tony and Joy Buczek, the City of Donalsonville, Mayor Dan Ponder, Steve Hicks, the Seminole County Commissioners, Paula Granger, Sherriff Heath Elliot and staff, Seminole State Park Staff, Donalsonville Downtown Development Authority, Donalsonville-Seminole County Chamber of Commerce, Steven Houston, Louise Royal and the Iron City Ladies Club, City of Iron City and Mayor Ronnie Ingram, Steve Cross and Robin Tillery, Lewis and Marcus Carter and their staff; Mark Payne, Donalsonville First Baptist Church, Donalsonville Presbyterian Church, Seminole County Extension Office and Pine Hill Plantation.
It takes a village to create change – Seminole County made a good start and bold statement for progress this past week!