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08/17/00 - Dawson's work felt here


Commerce News


by Mark Beardsley

August 17, 2000

Dawson's Work Felt Here

That the chairman of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners has decided not to seek re-election this fall would not normally warrant mention in this newspaper, but long after Wendell Dawson is out of office, Jackson County residents will benefit from his service.

If not for Dawson, it is unlikely that the Bear Creek Reservoir in southwest Jackson County would ever have been built. None of the other three county CEO's had the combination of patience, political skill, temperament and bulldog determination to persevere during the endless arguments and negotiations over voting percentages, shares, costs and intergovernmental agreements required to make a regional project of that magnitude work. Dawson had the cool head when Athens-Clarke seemed to want to assert its dominance and when Jackson County blustered and threatened and at one point even withdrew from the consortium. He held the group together through 16 hard years, serving as its chairman since the day the Upper Oconee Basin Authority was created by law.

When officials of Jackson, Barrow, Oconee and Athens-Clarke counties gather next June or July to officially open the reservoir, they should name the facility after Dawson in recognition of his contributions.

While a lot of people worked to get that 53 million-gallon-per-day capacity, no one played a greater role than Dawson. And 15 years from now, when Jackson County residents turn the tap for water, the reliability of the supply will be part of the legacy of a man most Jackson County residents will have never heard of.

Athens Newspapers

Editorial- August 11, 2000

Dawson's work will have a long-term impact on region

In his 26 years of public service, Wendell Dawson has seen Oconee County transition from a rural area with little commercial development to the fastest growing county in our region. While every growing community encounters hurdles as more and more people move there, Dawson has helped Oconee County make the transition as smoothly as possible and become a desirable place to live.
In the 1970s, Dawson spent four years as an Oconee County commissioner before serving as county attorney for 10 years. He has been commission chairman since 1989.

In addition to his work in Oconee County, Dawson has become a major player in the region. He is chairman of the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority, a four-county consortium that is working on a reservoir to address regional water needs. Dawson is also a chair of the Athens-Clarke-Oconee Regional Transportation Study (ACORTS), which develops short- and long-range plans to address transportation issues.

Dawson announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election as chairman of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners. Dawson had been seeking re-election this November for the office he has held since 1989. Instead, he will serve out the rest of his term, which ends Dec. 31, and then retire from public service.

In his letter of resignation, Dawson, who will soon turn 60, said he is ready to pursue other career opportunities and to spend more time with his family. After more than two decades in public service, we can think of few people who are more deserving of some time off. We would like to thank Wendell Dawson for all of the things he did to make our area a better place to live and to wish him the best in his future endeavors.