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OTC Hosts Waycross-Ware County Chamber Rise & Shine

By MYRA THRIFT, Staff Writer
Waycross Journal Herald

Okefenokee Technical College hosted the early morning networking event, the Waycross-Ware County Chamber of Commerce monthly “Rise and Shine” breakfast mixer, Tuesday, and folks liked what they saw and heard.

After enjoying breakfast-in-a-bowl (grits, scrambled eggs and scrambled sausage), plain grits with butter, cheese and other toppings, a variety of fresh fruit including cantaloupe, pineapple, white and red grapes, various flavored muffins, biscuits with butter and jelly, fruit juices, soda and coffee, the group enjoyed fellowship while talking about their respective interests.

Dr. Glenn Deibert, president, welcomed the large group of chamber faithful to the event hosted in the Economic Development Training Center, Building 600. He pointed out that the train engine’s new home was right outside the building and invited everyone to take a look at Engine 3066 that was moved to OTC by way of Carswell Avenue.
 
“Our biggest buzz right now is consolidation which was announced Aug. 1,” said Deibert. “I believe it is really going to be good for us. Not only will we continue to offer all services for our students, but the consolidation of the two colleges will increase the number of programs offered.”
 
“The newly consolidated college will serve thirteen counties, including the three coastal counties of Glynn, Camden, and McIntosh, which were acquired by Altamaha Technical College in 2009.”

Commissioner Ron Jackson will meet with both boards this Thursday in Jesup to go over details of the merger. “There’s excitement and anticipation surrounding the merger, and we see a lot of positive results once the merger is completed,” Deibert said.

Dave Callaway, who serves as the host of the monthly breakfast mixers for the chamber, then welcomed everyone on behalf of the chamber and asked each person attending to stand, give their name and a little bit of information about themselves, their company, their jobs or their personal lives.

Several in the audience spoke of upcoming events including the Okefenokee Heritage Center’s Smithsonian Institution New Harmonies traveling exhibition which will be at the OHC from Aug. 24 to Oct. 5 with a big grand opening planned for Aug. 24, all explained by OHC curator Steve Bean.

Ware County Chairman Jimmy Brown and Waycross Mayor Clarence Billups both took time to talk about the November vote on the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum that would generate about $45 million over the next five years. Both Brown and Billups encouraged everyone to get on board with promoting the SPLOST and help with making sure it is approved at the ballot box.
Allison Herrin, of the City of Waycross, announced that a community pep rally is being planned for the Ware County High School Gator football team’s first game of the season — stay tuned for more information on that highly anticipated event.

Mark Deal, horticulture instructor at OTC, announced that Sept. 1 will be the 10th anniversary of the OTC Horticulture Club and that OTC is one of just two postsecondary institutions in the state that has one. The only other college that has a horticulture club is the University of Georgia, he said.

One lady in attendance announced the OHC’s “Boots and Barbecue” which is set for Oct. 5 and also that she had tickets for the $10,000 giveaway by the Okefenokee Humane Society. Tickets are selling for $100 each.

Ginger Peagler spoke of her membership in the Waycross Exchange Club and her work with at-risk students at Ware County High School. She added that in 2012 and 2011 there was 100 percent graduation rate among those students.

Tonya Greene, manager at Belk, announced that Tuesday was being celebrated at the store as “Chamber Appreciation Day” with an extra 20 percent off all purchases for chamber members and their employees.

Laura Walker State Park has two events approaching, a golf tournament for the Friends of Laura Walker on Sept. 21 and a fall festival on Oct. 19 with a “professional haunted house” crew coming to decorate, as well as face painting, lots of free games and plenty of food for everyone.

Charlie Gibson, of OTC, said the college has the best graduates anyone could ask for, that they are ready to work, and want to stay in Southeast Georgia to look for employment.

Thomas Wesley, OTC electronics instructor, talked about the locomotive mechanical and electrical programs and how the locomotive program offers technical certificates, diplomas, and an associate degree. One of the locomotive credentials even has a welding element that will be offered through the dual enrollment program.

Jason Rubenbauer announced several specialty “continuing education” classes that are open for enrollment including a cake decorating class Sept. 5 through Oct. 3, an etiquette class for children, as well as a child’s sewing class.

Andy Brannen announced that OTC has facilities for rent for special events including the building where the breakfast was held. Business owners should call Andy for customized training options.

Cindy Tanner announced that the OTC golf tournament to benefit students through toolbox scholarships will be held at the end of October. She will distribute information on that event soon.

Patrick Simmons told the group he can help with job placement through his position with the Georgia Department of Labor.

Two employees of BB&T announced the bank is “still making loans” and has a program to help young people get off on the right foot by opening an account. Each child who does so will receive $25 when they are enrolled in the program.

Chris Karle announced that he recently has top executives with his company from all over the United States to arrive at the Jacksonville, Fla., airport, then were brought to OTC where they held their meeting. “This is a great place for holding meetings,” Karle said. 

Eva Byrd, executive director of the Waycross-Ware County Chamber of Commerce, thanked each of those in attendance and encouraged them to attend an upcoming ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning at Global Partnership for TeleHealth, 3599 Plant Ave. (old Patterson Bank building), a ribbon-cutting ceremony and Business after Hours at MRI of Waycross, 501 W. Oneida St. at 5 p.m. Thursday.

She also announced the next Rise and Shine breakfast mixer will be held at Ware County High School on Sept. 10.


Okefenokee Technical College hosted the early morning networking event, the Waycross-Ware County Chamber of Commerce monthly “Rise and Shine” breakfast mixer, Tuesday, August 13.


OTC President Dr. Glenn Deibert welcomed everyone to the Waycross-Ware County Chamber Rise & Shine and shared information about the upcoming merger.


Rise & Shine guests enjoyed a delicious breakfast that included a large fruit tray prepared by OTC employees Margaret Fairley, Teresa Allen, and Natasha King.


Dave Callaway, who serves as the host of the monthly breakfast mixers for the chamber, was greeted at OTC by Charlie Gibson, director of career services.


Chris Karle was among the Rise and Shine group to share an update. Karle announced that he was with a group of co-workers who recently met with top executives of his company who flew into the JAX airport from offices around the United States and then traveled to Waycross for the meeting. “We met here at OTC, in this room. This is a great place for holding meetings,” Karle said. 


Myra Thrift of the Waycross Journal Herald shared a personal tidbit about herself and how much she enjoys her work.

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