Local business representatives gathered together Tuesday night to spell things out for adult literacy.
Colony Bank, Bank of Upson, FYCA, Thomaston-Upson Chamber of Commerce, The Thomaston Times, United Bank, Upson Regional Medical Center, Flint River Technical College and the Thomaston-Upson Board of Education participated in the third annual spelling bee.
The event was sponsored by Upson R.E.A.D., Upson Families, Youth, and Children's Alliance, and Equal Opportunity Center.
Before the eight teams took the stage, the crowd saluted the armed forces by singing “God Bless America,” and a performance saluting all branches of service by the First Baptist Church Choir.
Jaye Eubanks served as master of ceremonies, Karen Harville was the pronouncer, Donna Allen the clown, and Danny Bentley, Johnnie Caldwell and Tommy Hankinson were type cast as judges for the event.
Members from The Thomaston-Upson-Chamber of Commerce were victorious as they beat out Flint River Technical College for first place.
Ralph Swearngin, Debbie Gignilliat and Sam Mudano successfully spelled ditokous to take home the prize.
Mudano said the driving force behind the team's success was alternate and “coach” Lori Showalter.
The real winner for the night was the Upson R.E.A.D. program.
The program was organized in 1993 and set forth a ten year goal to serve students who are illiterate or have low reading skills.
Volunteers provide one-on-one tutoring. Participants are encouraged to also take advantage of adult education classes at Flint River Technical College in order to prepare for the GED.
Upson County in 2000, had an above state average record of 33.3 percent of the adults age 25 and over that did not have a high school education. The state's average was 21.4 percent.
In the high school class of 2001, there was only a 57.9 percent completion rate. The state average was 71.1 percent.
Chuck Fields, director of Upson R.E.A.D. said those statistics have to change.
“If Upson County is to have a competitive work force and attract new businesses to our area, we must change these statistics,” Fields said.
Changing those statistics might be easier than spelling ditokous.