Local officials welcomed four members of U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s staff to Eatonton May 25 and gave them a tour of the growing city.
Southwest Outreach Director Brenda Williams thanked hosts for their hospitality and said this would not be her last time here.
Those who participated in the tour included Mayor John Reid, City Administrator Gary Sanders, Councilmember Teresa Doster, Councilmember Janie Reid, Chamber of Commerce President Maggie Milner, Matt Poyner of the Middle Georgia Economic Alliance Authority, Eatonton Youth Leadership (Junior Mayor) Tyler Clemons, Putnam County NAACP President Gwendolyn Brundage, Main Street Manager Lauren Singleton and Department of Community Affairs Regional Representative Tonya Mole.
The tour began with a prayer passionately led by Kevin Reid, a city employee with Downtown Public Works. Mayor Reid then said a few words of introduction, and the tour officially began at the Old School Museum.
After the museum, the group departed the Plaza Arts Center by bus, which made its first stop at the Briarpatch Trail Park, where Mayor Reid discussed the recent addition of the Butterfly and Bloom butterfly habitat and future plans to add a second walking trail.
The next location the tour passed was the Jet Food Store by U.S. 441, which sold the highest volume of gas out of all 49 Jet stores in 2020. Councilwoman Janie Reid told the group that the owners had recently purchased 400 acres of land and were looking for public and private partnerships to develop.
The bus then stopped at a GRAD (Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development) certified site in the Industrial Park. GRAD certified sites are sites which are prepared for incoming prospects. Administrator Sanders hopes for Eatonton to provide natural gas to the site once a prospect arrives.
The bus traveled by Bluestem Brands, Legacy Housing and Vizitech, and the development of each was discussed in passing. The tour briefly stopped at the Sumter Street Station housing complex before continuing to the Pex Theatre, where renovations are underway to restore the historic venue and dedicate part of it to being a Black History Museum.
From the Pex, the group walked down the street to see Eatonton Center Stage behind Barrel 118, where Kevin Tomson-Hooper described plans to host artisans and workshops.
The last stop was Barrel 118, where the group had lunch provided by Eat-A-Ton Cafe.
During lunch, Eatonton city officials gave Warnock’s representatives several gifts.
Junior Mayor Tyler Clemons presented them with framed photos of his induction into the inaugural class of Eatonton Youth Leadership and a group photo of the Eatonton Youth Leadership members in their graduation caps and gowns.
Each representative received a copy of Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple,” all of which were signed by Mayor Reid and Councilmember Doster, and one copy was autographed by Walker.
Reid gave the representatives a framed image of a pin he wore on his lapel, which was designed for a competition, in collaboration with a small-town Alabama mayor who shared a name with Congressman John Lewis.
Reid not only gave a framed picture of his and Mayor Lewis’s pin but also gave each representative a pin of their own, each bearing the same design.
“Thank you all for our gifts and your hospitality,” Williams said. “This is by far one of my best visits, so I’ve enjoyed it.”
Outreach Director Martha Revelo added that the city targets nearly everything Warnock advocates for, and that from her end, she and her fellow representatives would do their best to provide resources for the city.