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Honoring Five Macon Georgia Great Citizens

Rep. Jim Marshall

legislator photo

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to honor five of Macon, Georgia's great citizens: R. Kirby Godsey, Robert F. Hatcher, the late William S. Hutchings, the late Charles H. Jones, and Juanita T. Jordan. Each has earned the respect and admiration of Central Georgians by building coalitions to improve communities and institutions throughout the State of Georgia.

Individually, these citizens of Georgia have accomplished great deeds. They have risen to the highest levels of their chosen professions and are held in the highest esteem by their colleagues and professional organizations. Each has contributed visionary leadership, perseverance and untold hours to civic and charitable endeavors,

These five individuals have also shared a love of their hometown, Macon, Georgia and a passion for improving the quality of life and economic prosperity of the Central Georgia region. All areas of community life in Macon--education, race relations, economic development, social services and recreation--have been improved through the tireless efforts of these individuals.

In addition to this group's selfless work as individuals, they also achieved great things by working together to help Macon. One of their most lasting and important contributions to Macon was their collective effort to found and fund NewTown Macon, a non-profit organization focused on the revitalization of downtown Macon.

Macon, Georgia is one of the great cities of the American South. With 5,500 individual structures and 11 districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Macon's downtown is a textbook of historic architecture. Like many other American cities, however, Macon's downtown struggled during the latter part of the twentieth century as families and businesses moved to the suburbs. By the mid-1990s, much of downtown Macon was shuttered and neglected, and many historic properties were in danger of being permanently lost. These five leaders recognized that a region cannot escape the fate and reputation of its central city, that decaying urban centers limit the growth and prosperity of entire regions. They acted decisively to form a public-private partnership that began changing the face of downtown Macon.

In the fourteen years since NewTown's founding, more than $350 million has been invested in downtown and the renaissance of Macon's urban center is well underway. Businesses and families are moving back downtown, historic properties are being restored to their earlier grandeur, and civic pride is growing. I am confident that these achievements would not have happened without Kirby Godsey, Bob Hatcher, Bill Hutchings, Charlie Jones, and Juanita Jordan's determination and leadership. Macon is a better city for their efforts.

Please join me in thanking these great and influential individuals for their contributions to Macon and the State of Georgia.