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Regional commission holds appreciation dinner
GMRC Dinner pic
Attendees prepare their plates Thursday during the Georgia Mountains Regional Commissions legislative appreciation dinner at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. - photo by Chelsea Thomas Dawson Community News

The Georgia Mountains Regional Commission held a legislative appreciation dinner Thursday at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.

Members of Dawson County's state legislative delegation were joined by more than 100 regional delegates, politicians, representatives and guests.

During the gathering, representatives from the offices of U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson and U.S. Reps. Paul Broun and Tom Graves presented legislative updates.

State Reps. Amos Amerson, Terry Rogers and Alan Powell, as well as state Sen. Steve Gooch also spoke briefly.

Darren Kendall, Chambliss' regional representative, told commissioners that Chambliss, who serves as the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is working to address two of the biggest national security threats: Terrorism and the national deficit.

"Bombs are getting smaller ... and they seem to be getting more efficient and tougher to detect," Kendall said. "Saxby and the rest of the intelligence committee are going to be doing everything they can to stop these attacks before they happen."

He mentioned the rising national debt, currently at $15.7 trillion, and said it's been estimated the nation will reach the debt ceiling of $17 trillion by the end of the year.

He added that Chambliss is overlooking a package to reform the tax code, Social Security and Medicare.

Isakson representative Tate O'Rouke took the discussion in a different direction, discussing the way "congress is butting heads."

She reminded the audience that 33 seats are up for election this year in the Senate.

Other speakers discussed the gridlock in congress, while state Sen. Steve Gooch encouraged commissioners to get involved with the referendum on the 1-cent Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax scheduled for July 31.

"I encourage you to educate people on the bill so they know exactly what they are voting for or against," he said.

The Transportation Investment Act [House Bill 277] would allow a 1-cent sales and use tax to fund a list of regional transportation projects. If passed, the tax would last 10 years.

The dinner was sponsored by the city of Dawsonville, Dawson County and the Dawson County Board of Education.

The regional commission's mission is to promote and guide proper development of human, natural, physical, social and economic resources in the Georgia Mountains Region.

The area covers 3,500 square miles and includes Banks, Dawson, Forsyth, Franklin, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union and White counties.

The commission's next meeting is scheduled for June 28 in Rabun County.