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Locals aspire to lead
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After months of classes, homework, field trips and a group service project, 26 local men and women are now graduates of the 2011 Leadership Dawson class.

A ceremony last Tuesday night at the Lakeview Center celebrated the accomplishment and awarded the graduates for their commitment to leadership.

Georgia's House Speaker David Ralston served as the event's keynote speaker.

"I came down here tonight to congratulate you, because this is a big deal," Ralston said. "I know the experience you have had this year is one that you will benefit from and draw from for years to come and on through the rest of your lives."

The program was established in 1992 as a joint program between the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and the local University of Georgia Extension office.

Topics covered during the three month course include leadership development skills, as well as local demographics, economic development, communication and education.

Participants also become familiar with the needs and opportunities for service in the county. This year's class took that knowledge and provided a leisure area for the local senior center at Veterans Memorial Park.

The class chose Clint Bearden to speak on their behalf during the ceremony.

"It's an honor for every one of us to call ourselves a graduate of this program," Bearden said.

As the evening came to a close, the group also recognized county extension agent Clark Beusse, who was part of the initial push to start a leadership program in Dawson County.

"We've had 187 leaders graduate from this program and Clark has impacted every single one of them," said program co-chair Peter Hill.