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7-22-02 Vinnie Williams and the Oconee Enterprise

During my years in office, there were frequent stories written by Vinnie Williams that were grossly in error. Sometimes the story came out just the opposite of the actual events. Frequently, it was difficult to recognize the meeting as the one that I had attended.

AVOC

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July 20, 2002

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Vinnie Williams and the Oconee Enterprise   

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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I quit reading the Enterprise about two years ago after Vinnie Williams pitched a “hissy fit” about my retirement announcement.  At that time, she did quite a “hatchet job” on me in her column.   I do not subscribe to The Oconee Enterprise and do not buy it.  I DO NOT READ IT.  

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When I hear someone complaining about it, I tell them that it is useless to rely on it for news and accurate information.   Much of what is reported is fictional creations of the owner.   Most or the content and many of its favorite subjects do not have much existence outside of the readership of the “Enterprise”.

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I regret the state of the condition of The Oconee Enterprise.   Growing up in Oconee in the 40’s and 50’s the Enterprise was considered our “hometown paper”.   Gradually, that feeling evaporated after Vinnie Williams moved to the County from Thomson, Georgia, and bought the Enterprise in the early eighties. Since then, the Enterprise has been more of a personal “possession” than a “hometown” newspaper.

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For years, as county attorney (attending many public meetings), I knew first-hand of the inaccuracies and biases of the “Vinnie Williams Enterprise”.  Nevertheless, I tried to maintain a working relationship.  Early on, as Commission Chairman, I realized a newsletter would be the only way to get accurate information to citizens.  For good or bad, I felt citizens needed more information about county matters than sensationalist headlines.

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Over the last year or so, friends and relatives have told me about incidents of “reports” in the Enterprise about me that were purely fabrications.  Some paraphrased examples:

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ENTERPRISE:  Dawson has sold his home and is moving to Jennings Mill;

TRUTH:  Betty and I STILL LIVE ON NEW HIGH SHOALS ROAD;

ENTERPRISE:  Dawson turned down a higher price on the sale of his office building because of “hard feelings” toward the offeror; 

TRUTH:  AFTER I COMMITTED TO SELL TO ANOTHER BUYER, A PERSON OFFERED ME A LITTLE MORE MONEY TO “BACK OUT” OF MY AGREEMENT!   I JUST DO NOT OPERATE THAT WAY;

ENTERPRISE:   Dawson paved the Cliff Dawson Road through the Dawson farm during his first term in office;

TRUTH:  CLIFF DAWSON ROAD WAS PAVED DURING THE CHOYCE JOHNSON ADMINISTRATION.  THE POLITICAL INFLUENCE OF MY LATE FATHER, RAYFORD DAWSON, HAD MORE TO DO WITH THAT PROJECT THAN ANYONE ELSE.
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ENTERPRISE:  Dawson paid more for the Daniell House than Mike Thornton was asking.

TRUTH:  The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a proposal from Ray and Stephanie Goff to buy the house for $ 150,000 and renovate it for $ 100,000.  We were lucky to get the renovation done for that price.  It took volunteer effort and county contribution to meet the project budget.   (The earlier owners had backed out [for tax reason] of the original plan to sell the county the house and five acres for around $ 80,000)  The County then dealt with the developers who did not “give the County anything”!

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Recently, according to one of my sisters, the Enterprise reported a story about a legal matter involving my late father’s estate.   It was written and couched in language that tended to paint me in the worst possible light.   Since I have been out of office a year and a half, I was a little surprised by the intensity of the negative slant on matters of my personal life. 

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All of us can have opinions about lots of things.  However, most reasonable people and all responsible journalists stay out of family disagreements.   My parents taught our family to stick together when someone else attacks one.  We had our share of fights but most of us always “took up for each other”.   I think most of us still do.

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Many friends and relatives, as well as myself, were really surprised and shocked at the vehement attack on me by Vinnie Williams in her column in August 2000 after I announced my retirement.   It was hard to believe that anyone could have the egotistical idea that after 30 years of public service my announcement WOULD HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE OCONEE ENTERPRISE.

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