Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local News

October 10, 2009

Airport renaming set for 3 p.m.

AMERICUS — City administrator answers further questions

Sometimes, the best intentions turn sour — case in point would be the renaming of Souther Field Regional Airport to Jimmy Carter Regional Airport.

What is normally considered a great honor for anyone, most especially a former President of the United States — especially for one from Sumter County — has turned into a few weeks of turmoil and bitterness.

Some have been surprised by the opposition, while others have not. And still others see the situation as it clearly is — people do not think alike, and where those in leadership roles who wanted the renaming done only saw the situation as a chance for the home county of former President Carter to honor him — others, those in opposition like Airport Authority Chair Frank Joiner, Rick Urash, flight instructor, and other citizens, saw the renaming of the airport as “messing” with history.

Either way, the event will take place 3 p.m. today with Carter addressing the issues that local, regional and national media outlets have grabbed hold to and ran with.

Americus Mayor Barry Blount was called Friday afternoon after a handwritten note from Carter was released to media by opponents to the name change. The note from Carter said, “’To Rick Urash- I discouraged the City Council and wanted the naming honors to go to Brown Hodges. Best wishes, Jimmy C.’”

Blount refused to comment on the situation to the local newspaper, the Times-Recorder, stating “I defer all comments to what President Carter will state on Sunday.” Blount did state that there was other information, communication between Carter and the City, that was available, but did not offer it for publication.

Not long after that phone call, Blount granted an interivew to a writer from the Associated Press in Atlanta. “He and the city council members thought it was important to name a site after the former president and that he too was surprised to hear of opposition. I think it's just important for this community to honor President Carter and his many contributions to not only our area but the whole country,"according to the AP. "I knew there'd be some resistance but I didn't really know how much. The location is fitting, Blount said, because it was the site of Carter's great-grandfather's farm.”

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