Major General Jim Butterworth ceremonially handed over the National Guard Armory to Montezuma Mayor Willie J. Larry in a patriotic celebration on September 25.
Larry thanked the Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard on behalf of the Montezuma City Council and the Exploratory Committee for the Macon County Boys and Girls Club. He credited Congressman Sanford Bishop; Senators George Hooks and Jim Harbison; Representative Lynmore James; Sam Merritt, Board Chair, Boys & Girls Clubs of Sumter County; and Lori Clemmons, Executive Director; Boys and Girls Clubs of Sumter County for their help and support.
Following a solemn invocation by Reverend Hosie Waters of Magnolia Baptist Church, the Macon County High School NJROTC launched the ceremony with a formal Presentation of Colors. The National Anthem was performed by City Council Member Dr. Norman Carter.
Congressman Sanford Bishop expressed admiration for the way community leaders came together to find a good use for the facility. "It will be transformed into a real opportunity to build and mold and shape the lives and the dreams and the values and the character of the young people in the Macon County area," said the Congressman for the Second District of Georgia.
The audience was also addressed by Ed Harbison, Senator for Georgia District 15; and Representative Lynmore James and Representative Elect Patty Bentley of the Georgia House of Representatives District 139.
Mayor Larry introduced Major General Jim Butterworth, the Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard. He reports directly to the Governor with responsibility for over 14,000 personnel of the Georgia Department of Defense. He oversees the Georgia Army National Guard, the Georgia Air National Guard, and the Georgia State Defense Force.
General Butterworth’s military assignments have included pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base, MS; time as a T-38 Pilot Instructor; service at Dover, DE as a C-5 A/B pilot; and service in Georgia’s own 116th Bomb Wing as a B-1B aircraft commander and flight lead.
He is a graduate of the University of Georgia and the Air Force R.O.T.C. program at UGA. General Butterworth was named "AFROTC Cadet of the Year" two of his four years at Georgia. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science.
In addition to a public service record that spans almost a decade, Butterworth has flown as a pilot for Delta Air Lines. He has just completed service as a State Senator representing Georgia’s 50th District. While in the Georgia Senate, he served as the Chairman of the Higher Education Committee and Vice Chairman of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. He was a member of the Appropriations Committee and also the Natural Resources and Environment committee; additionally, he served as an ex-officio member of the Economic Development and State and Local Governmental Operations committees.
Butterworth read the plaque and said "This property, formerly of the Georgia National Guard, is now in your capable hands," Butterworth said.
The armory had a long tradition in Montezuma as home to engineers from the 878th Engineer Battalion. In 2004, Bravo Company, 648th Engineers deployed to Afghanistan. Upon their return, the unit was assigned to Augusta and the Montezuma facility was left vacant. Instead of leaving it as vacant government surplus property, the Georgia Department of Defense decided to gift it to the City of Montezuma for use as the Boys and Girls Club of Macon County.
“This is going to be a great location. It’s got room to grow for a lot of children. I think we can get behind it, and it can be an even more vital part of the community,” said Senator Harbison.
Comments of appreciation were expressed by Regina McDuffie, Macon County Manager; Gloria Dixon, Chairperson of the Macon County Boys and Girls Club Exploratory Committee; Sam Merritt, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Americus Sumter County; and Lori Clemmons, Chief Professional Officer of the Boys and Girls Club of Americus Sumter County.
Dixon’s committee worked hand in hand with the Boys and Girls Club of Sumter County to lay the groundwork for a Macon County chapter. Her organization is continuing to raise funds to launch the local chapter. Dixon asked as many as possible to sponsor a child for a full year for a $126 tax deductible donation.
Dixon is the former Mayor of the City of Marshallville and has dedicated much volunteer time to meet the national criteria for a local chapter. She explained that the armory building will be used to help develop fitness, positive use of leisure time, skills for stress management, appreciation for the environment, and social skills. Programs will be offered to develop a positive self-image, good character, and respect for their own and others’ cultural identities.
he audience included many volunteers and community leaders who have been the boots on the street for the Exploratory Committee. A large contingent of the Retired Teachers’ Association of Macon County applauded loudly when the plaque was presented to Mayor Larry. After the ceremony, they were greeted by each of the dignitaries and congratulated by community leaders for their commendable service.
“This building will not go underutilized,” said South Georgia Technical College Career Services Director Cynthia Carter. “I can think of numerous programs that we can offer to our kids so that they are not just roaming in the streets.” Carter is Chair of the Montezuma Downtown Development Authority, and formerly served on the Board of Directors for the Flint Area Consolidating Housing Authority.
Recreation and youth development are being cooperatively addressed through a community collaborative that has successfully raised money and built support for the Boys and Girls Club,” Mayor Larry told the crowd. “Providing safe outlets for after school and holidays is a key element to breaking the poverty cycle and ensuring that our youth are prepared to support the community.”
Please make your check payable to the Americus/Sumter County Boys & Girls Club, and in the memo section write “Macon County Escrow Account.” For $126, you can sponsor a year of positive supervised activity for a Macon County youngster. Please mail your tax deductible contribution to the Macon County Boys and Girls Club Exploratory Committee, P.O. Box 388, Montezuma, Georgia 31063.
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