By BETH ALSTON
and BECKY HOLLAND
One of the leaders in a protest against changing the name of Souther Field Airport to Jimmy Carter Regional Airport, Rick Urash, says he has received a response from the former president to a letter Urash had sent to Carter.
The controversy over the renaming, decided by the Americus City Council, Sumter County Board of Commissioners and Americus-Sumter County Airport Authority, in September, really didn’t heat up until a week ago when letters protesting the name change started coming into the Americus Times-Recorder.
The first such letter, penned by Urash, a local veteran pilot and flight instructor, was a portion of a letter Urash has sent to Jimmy Carter on Sept. 23. Urash says he received the reply from Wednesday, Oct. 7.
In the response, “Jimmy C.” writes, “To Rick Urash — I discouraged the City Council & wanted the naming to go to Brown Hodges — Best wishes, Jimmy C.”
Hodges, another local pilot who served as chairman of the Americus-Sumter County Airport Authority for many years, and had served as a Naval aviator in World War II, died in November 2008, and the airport terminal was named in his honor in a July ceremony, which was attended by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.
Local protests have been coming mainly, as Debra Durden Sloan, stated, because of the historical aspect. “This airport was named after a gentleman who was an icon (during his era) in aviation. The name Souther has been in place 92 years.” It is nothing against former President Carter , it is just about the history aspect.
Charlotte Cotton, chief administrative officer for the City of Americus, when asked last Monday how the naming of the airport idea came about, said, “Several years ago at a joint planning retreat of the City of Americus Mayor and Council and the Sumter County Board of Commissioners, the topic was raised that nothing in Sumter County was named in honor of Jimmy Carter, and we needed to do something.
A renaming ceremony for the airport is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, and the public is invited.
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The year was 1964. Lyndon B. Johnson was president of the United States and trying to navigate the country through the Vietnam War. Muhammad Ali was then known as Cassius Clay and would defeat Sonny Liston for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, and a group from across the pond known as the Beatles would make their historic debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. Postage stamps were 5 cents, gas was 30 cents a gallon and the average income per year was $6,000.
The year 1964 was also the year Yvonne Goggins, a native of Michigan, moved to South Georgia and took a job at the local hospital in Americus.
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