Centerville hosts state lawmakers

Sun News correspondentDecember 18, 2013 

MICHAEL W. PANNELL/SPECIAL TO THE SUN NEWSFrom left, state Rep. Robert Dickey, R-Musella; state Rep. Buddy Harden, R-Cordele; Centerville Mayor John Harley; state Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Dry Branch; state Rep. Willie Talton, R-Warner Robins; and state Rep. Larry O’Neal, R-Bonaire, attended an event that highlighted Centerville last week.

CENTERVILLE -- A handful of state legislators were treated to tours, presentations and Christmas dinner in Centerville on Dec. 11 in an effort to let them know about the community’s achievements and challenges prior to the coming 2014 legislative session.

“We wanted our legislators to see what we’re doing with citizens’ dollars, and how we’re working to keep spending under control,” Mayor John Harley said. “We also wanted to show them what an excellent city staff we have. I’m really proud of how well our staff put the entire project together and allowed legislators to get a good picture of the whole city. They’ve got a much better picture of who we are, and that will help in the future.”

The event was part of the Georgia Municipal Association’s Hometown Connection program, which fosters ongoing communication between local and state officials.

Legislators were treated to breakfast, presentations by city department heads, a driving tour of Centerville and walking tours of the city’s new municipal court and law enforcement facilities, which should be finished and operating early next year.

They capped off the gathering by joining city employees at their annual Christmas dinner.

Rep. Willie Talton, R-Warner Robins, represents Centerville and is a former member of the Houston County Sheriff’s Office and former Centerville police chief. He took particular interest in touring the nearly completed law enforcement center located next to City Hall.

“Having a background in law enforcement and having been in Centerville, it really pleases me to see this new building,” he said.

“It shows a real respect for law enforcement and that they’re not just country bumpkins here. They have a really fine police force, and I’m thankful city officials are building this for them.”

Talton said though he was quite familiar with Centerville, ongoing communication through events like Hometown Connection help all elected officials do a better job.

Funds for the center and municipal court building are from special purpose local option sales tax monies voted on by Houston County residents for countywide projects.

Rep. Robert Dickey, R-Musella, also attended and represents a portion of Centerville and north Houston County.

“It’s just real impressive to see what Centerville is doing in terms of services for citizens and the excellent job they’re doing to plan for the future,” he said.

“I’m impressed by Centerville’s employees and with the cooperation I see between Centerville and all the other county and municipality officials.”

Beth English was at the event in two roles -- one as president of the board of GMA and the other as Vienna mayor pro tem.

She said officials in Vienna are in the early stages of building a new public safety facility there, but design plans need to be put on hold until those heading the project get a chance to see the Centerville complex.

Other legislators at the Hometown Connection meeting were State House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, R-Bonaire, Rep. Buddy Harden, R-Cordele, and Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Dry Branch.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at

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