Go to http://community.coastalcourier.com/gallery/detail/1479/ to see more photos of the Long County Chamber of Commerce installation banquet.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, served as the keynote speaker Tuesday at the 2011-12 Long County Chamber of Commerce installation banquet.
Kingston was introduced by outgoing chamber President Kerry Hunt, who praised the congressman’s 18 years of service to the 1st District and his service to Long County. Hunt also encouraged the Long County leaders to continue supporting and praying for Kingston.
“I encourage you to pray for Jack. He is a Christian, and he is a man who seeks Godly wisdom. I don’t know how many people in Washington we can say that about,” Hunt said.
When Kingston took the podium, the audience of more than 100 people gave him a standing ovation. Kingston praised Long County, saying the community is comprised of good people and good leaders.
The congressman also spoke of the increased growth in both Georgia and in Long County.
“In the time that I have represented you, the population of Long County has almost doubled … a lot of people are coming into our area,” Kingston said.
He also spoke of the economy and how he thought the poor economic times could be reversed.
“For every dollar that we spend as a nation, 40 percent is borrowed. … To turn the economy around, the first thing we need to do is to get rid of some of the silly regulations that we have,” Kingston said.
“The second thing that we need to do is to drill for our own oil. … Our offshore permitting (to drill for oil) is down 78 percent,” the congressman said.
Kingston also said the country needs to simplify its tax system. More than 160 billion dollars was spent on tax preparation this past year, according to the congressman.
Kingston told the crowd that the community’s concern over the proposed expansion of the Townsend Bombing Range is understandable. He said the proposed expansion could be anywhere between 12,000-52,000 acres.
“The Townsend Bombing Range expansion project is of a high priority to me, and just know that your economic development will be taken into account,” he said.
The congressman also told the group that a new VA clinic will open July 5 in Hinesville.
“Next Tuesday, the new veteran’s clinic in Hinesville will be opening on an interim basis. Now veterans in Long County will only have a short 15-mile drive to receive medical care,” he said.
“Anything I can do for you, just let me know. We are very committed to Long County,” the congressman said.
After Kingston finished speaking, he swore in the new directors and officers for the chamber: Kadee Dasher, Deotha Johnson, Alice Manning, Terry Sellers, Lillian Simmons, Treasurer Cathy Atkins, Secretary Miriam Murray, President-Elect Kerry Hunt and President Gaynell Garrason.
Garrason closed out the ceremony with a look to the upcoming year.
“This year, we are going to focus on how the chamber can support the businesses we have and also the community as a whole,” Garrason said. “We are always looking for ideas on how to make us better, and our door is always open.”
In other business:
• Atkins presented a plaque to Billy and Paula Smith, who own Low Country Paintball. They received the Long County Business of the Year award.
• Educational Committee Chairwoman Ann Parker presented a $350 check to Wes Johnson for winning a scholarship award. She also recognized Angel Dennison as the second scholarship award winner. Dennison was unable to attend.