Monday’s meeting of the Thomaston-Upson Industrial Development Authority (TUIDA) marked not only the last meeting for the year, but also the last for TUIDA Chairman Neil Hightower and board member County Commission Chairman Maurice Raines. Hightower is retiring from the board and Raines will be replaced by Rusty Blackston, who defeated him in the race for the Commission Chair earlier this month.
During the meeting, TUIDA attorney Joel Bentley commended the current board for the work they have done over the last few years.
“Under this administration and composition of the Industrial Development Authority, I believe, unless I am badly mistaken, you will leave this community with more jobs in place and with a brighter outlook than any other board. And I think that is all the community has asked of you, and I hope that going forward the next composition of the development authority is as successful as you have been,” said Bentley.
He likened the process of working in industrial development to that of watching a turtle cross the road; it may take that turtle 10 minutes to get across, but eventually he gets there.
“It might not have always looked like progress was being made every day we were doing it, and at times it seemed that we took two steps forward and three steps back,” continued Bentley. “In the end, the industries that have asked for help, we have been able to help them and those who really wanted to come here, we’ve been able to put together really good proposals for them…We may not have always gotten to the final pick, and in many cases we were not the final pick, but by golly when we left, they knew we were serious about getting industry and that was a direct result of every member of this board.”
The board thanked Bentley for his kind words and noted how much they enjoy having him as the TUIDA attorney.
Raines and Hightower both also took time during the meeting to express their enjoyment of working with everyone over the years and wish them well for the future. Raines stated that he feels he has served his community well, even though there have been some tough times.
“I can honestly say, with a smile on my face, that I know I have served this community well, I know I represented it well, but my integrity is more important than serving. I do know things will always work out and they have to get bad before they get better. As a citizen of this community and a tax payer of this community, I am going to continue to watch government and continue to be a supporter of government. I wish each of you the best going forward. We have had some great things to happen and I do believe they will continue,” said Raines.”
Hightower agreed that he feels the authority will continue to be a driving force of attracting new industries and jobs for the community.
“I feel like we are leaving the IDA in good shape,” said Hightower. “We have a really fine Executive Director with Kyle, and Susan is doing a great job. We have a fine attorney and a fine board. I want you to know that I am available, don’t expect any phone calls, but if for some reason you plow up a snake and you need me-I’m there. I love this community and I will do everything I can to support what you’re doing.”