Local Officials Say Washington Trip Went Well

Toccoa and Stephens County officials are back home this week after a trip last week to Washington, D.C.

Those officials left for the nation’s capital last Tuesday and returned on Thursday.

Toccoa Mayor David Austin said the trip went very well.

“We had a very busy schedule,” said Austin. “We were there two days and out from 8 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon calling on various folks, including both of our Senators and several Congressman and their staffs, to tell the Toccoa-Stephens County story and make a pitch for more money for our community.”

Stephens County Commission Vice-Chair Dean Scarborough echoed those comments, noting that the group met with a number of Congressmen who sit on Appropriations Committees that control federal funding.

In addition, Scarborough said the group met with legislative staffs and lobbyists for the state of Georgia and Farm Bureau while they were in Washington.

Scarborough said that the trip provided an opportunity to bring up a number of topics with federal leaders.

“We got to sell our message,” said Scarborough. “We took several messages that we specifically wanted to sell. We talked about Wilbros, our sewer infrastructure, Highway 17.”

According to Austin, some legislators say there is a possibility that Congress will consider re-authorizing the 2007 bill that authorized $8 million in federal funding for a sewer expansion project in Stephens County. That money was never appropriated.

Also, Austin also said the group had a chance to meet with a member of Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources board who happened to be in Washington and discuss the Wilbros issue.

The group also discussed Lake Hartwell during its visit, which Austin says was not affected by the weather despite fears of a major snowstorm.

Besides Austin and Scarborough, Stephens County Administrator Phyllis Ayers, Toccoa City Manager Mike Jackson, Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce President Wendi Bailey, and Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin also went on the trip.