A Best Veteran’s Day Speech

Opinion

For nearly two decades, Veterans Day in Gilmer County, Ga., has been a big event, celebrated with a parade, music, marching veterans in uniform, flags, the Gilmer Co. High School Band and chorus, free breakfasts and after parade lunches for vets. The schools also participate with prize money offered in essay and poster contests. A few times we have even enjoyed the thrill of fly overs by reserve aviation unites or CAP planes. Even a out of county High School ROTC Unit has asked to participate in the parade for the past several years. It’s always a busy day and always includes, as the main speaker, some dignitary or other, often a military officer, returned from a war zone, a local business personality or some other recognizable name.

This year, 2017, the invited guest speaker was Georgia’s own Speaker of the Georgia Assembly, and our state representative, The Honorable, Mr. David Ralston and also, a friend of mine. The following essay is the excellent speech, (verbatim) of speaker Ralston this year and was, in my opinion, just too good not to share:

Good morning. What a beautiful day to be in Gilmer County!

I stand before you today as one who is proud to be an American. I am proud to be in Gilmer County. I am proud and honored to be a part of this very special occasion to honor our veterans for their service and sacrifice. Nothing I can say will full express the enormous debt of gratitude we owe to those who have served our nation in our military.

I want to thank everyone who helped put this spectacular display of patriotism on this morning. I particularly want to thank all of the students who have participated in today’s festivities. You all have helped us show that the American spirit is alive and well in North Georgia!  Serving as Speaker of your House of Representatives as well as your State Representative is an honor for which I am thankful each and every day.

I know our political dialogue isn’t as kind as it once was. We’ve got some divisions that need healing. But we are so much better off than many other nations in the world. Here we are free to discuss and debate our disagreements. We can come to a table with different views and reason together. We have open, free and fair elections that put each and every one of us on a level playing field.  That’s not the case in North Korea. That’s not the case in Zimbabwe. That’s not the case in Cuba. That’s not the case in Venezuela.

But here in this great nation, you and I are free. I am free to take a knee when I pray and I am free to stand with pride when the National Anthem is played or the Pledge of Allegiance is recited. In so many other parts of the world, people don’t enjoy the freedoms we enjoy. Their decisions are made for them. Their leaders are selected by others. The information they get is filtered for them by others. In 2017 when so many nations around the world are free – it can be hard to remember the millions of our brothers and sister who aren’t. Why do they still suffer under tyrants and dictators and we don’t? — Our men and women in uniform.

Our service members and veterans who have stood up to serve this one nation – under God – indivisible – say it with me – “with liberty and justice for all.” Throughout our history, America has been attacked by those who don’t value freedom. Whether it was the Axis powers in World War II or today’s terrorists from ISIS or Al Qaeda, Americans have always had the protection of our armed forces.

In the noise of today’s 24-hour news cycle, service and sacrifice aren’t qualities that we hear much about. That’s a shame. Yet there are heroes who live in communities each and every day – our mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, neighbors and friends – the veterans of our armed forces.

If anything, I hope today reminds us that no matter what happens, there are good and decent patriots who have stood up to defend our freedoms. They have offered to make the ultimate sacrifice and lay down their lives, if necessary, to protect this nation and its citizens. In the Book of John, Jesus tells us that “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

By stepping forward and volunteering to serve, each member of our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Reserves offers to do just that. So today is a day that we pause to honor and celebrate their collective service and sacrifice. Today we rededicate ourselves to supporting our veterans and showing them the gratitude they deserve.

So long as the sun rises and the stars come out at night, this nation will remain a beacon of hope and opportunity for every oppressed person around the globe. They dream of one day enjoying the freedoms we enjoy. They dream of the limitless possibilities that exist in America.

And so long as our armed forces keep watch, this nation will stand proudly as the land of the free and the home of the brave. May God bless our veterans and our United States of America. Thank you!”

Remember, Freedom is the goal, the Constitution is the way. Now, go get ‘em! (13Nov17)

Speaker David Ralston to Host Fannin County Senior Homestead Exemption Town Hall

News, Politics

Speaker David Ralston to Host Fannin County

Senior Homestead Exemption Town Hall

ATLANTA – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) will hold a town hall meeting to discuss a possible Senior Homestead Exemption for Fannin County on Thursday, November 16, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Jury Assembly Room of the Fannin County Courthouse.

Speaker Ralston will be joined by State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) who also represents Fannin County in the Georgia General Assembly.

The meeting comes in response to interest expressed by some Fannin County senior citizens in having more relief from property taxes.

Any changes made to the senior school tax homestead exemption would have to be approved by the 2018 session of the Georgia General Assembly and Fannin County voters in the 2018 general election.

WHO:            Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge)

Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega)

WHAT:          Town Hall on Possible Senior Homestead Exemption in Fannin County

WHEN:          Thursday, November 16, 2017

5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

WHERE:       Jury Assembly Room – Third Floor

Fannin County Courthouse

400 West Main Street

                        Blue Ridge, GA   30513

Governor Signs House Bill 146 in Gilmer Fire Station

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Nathan Deal Signing Bill 146

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal visited Fire House 1 in Gilmer County Thursday to officially sign House Bill 146 known as the “Firefigher’s Cancer Insurance Bill.”

Micah Gravley - District 67 RepresentativeJoined by several officials including Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Senator Steve Gooch, author of the bill Micah Gravley, District 67 Representative, opened the ceremony by speaking about the two year effort to bring the bill to this point. Gravley related his interactions with two firefighters, Frank Martinez and Brian Scutter, who he said were the honor of the Bill as they fought for and spoke with legislators to get the bill passed, as well as the appropriateness to have the signing in Scutter’s home station in Gilmer County. Scutter was also mentioned by Speaker Ralston who said he had made a promise to Brian that he would give all that was in him to bring this day about. Turning to face Scutter, Ralston said, “I kept my promise.”

Governor Nathan Deal, who originally vetoed last year’s Bill 216 called the new House Bill 146 an “innovative and great solution to the situation.” Deal said the Bill provides relief for firefighters by providing a different method for compensation and money for treatment and care for firefighters who contract cancers during their work. Gravley thanked the Governor for his support of, as he called it, a “better bill.”

Speaker David Ralston - House Bill 146The sentiment was echoed by Speaker Ralston who said, “We have arrived at a better solution. By requiring a local government to provide insurance to our firefighters for certain types of cancer, the firefighter can skip the process of litigating a worker’s comp claim. This will allow the firefighter to focus on getting better and recovery rather than having to worry about legal bills and depositions and hearings.”

FYN caught up with Speaker Ralston and Governor Deal to ask them to elaborate on why the bill is better, comparative to last years Bill 216. The Speaker replied saying, “This uses a Health Insurance Model as opposed to a Workman’s Comp model which means instead of having to make a claim and perhaps go through a court type process to get benefits and income, Firefighters in this case will file a claim just like health insurance.”

Governor Nathan Deal - House Bill 146Governor Deal also spoke on the insurance versus workman’s comp comparison saying it was an awkward and “adversarial way of deciding whether or not compensation is owed.” Deal went on to say the newer Bill is a much better solution “to provide insurance coverage that will define benefits and give some flexibility as to deciding the compensation that will be given to firefighters.”

More than Senators and Congressman came to see Deal sign the Bill, though. Several representatives from neighboring and local emergency services attended the event including Gilmer’s own Director of Public Safety Tony Pritchett who said the Bill “gives you a sense of protection… You can lay your head down and sleep better at night knowing that if you contract cancer because of the job, there’s some protection that will take care of you and your family.”

 

For more on the Signing of House Bill 146 watch the full ceremony below or find more Photos in our Album:

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Georgia Speaker of The House David Ralston Talks About Rural Georgia Issues, Health Care…

Featured, Politics

Our interview Friday with Speaker of The House David Ralston focused on rural Georgia. Ralston went into detail about the new Rural Georgia Economic Council. This council will be co-chaired by (R) Terry England from Auburn, (R) Jay Powell from Camilla and Vice Chair (R) Sam Watson from Moultry. The council will be holding meetings across Georgia to hear from elected officials, local businesses and citizens about how they feel rural Georgia economy can best be improved. Ralston said jokingly that he better not find out that one meeting took place in Atlanta.

Health care is a major concern in rural Georgia. Several hospitals have closed in rural Georgia areas including one in Ralston’s district in North Georgia. We spoke to Ralston abut one possible solution to meet rural Georgia health care needs. Ralston used the example of the first stand alone emergency room, opened by Piedmont Mountainside Hospital in Gilmer county. In this interview we asked Ralston if Gilmer county still had the possibility of having a full hospital.

Ralston told us that sometime within the next month Governor Nathan Deal would be visiting Gilmer county’s Fire Station 1 to sign the fire fighter’s workmen’s compensation bill.  We asked Ralston the difference in this years campus carry bill opposed to last year’s bill which Governor Deal vetoed. Not being able to speak for the Governor, Ralston said he felt they made the changes necessary to get Deal to sign the bill. We also discussed the pay raises agreed upon in the 2017 legislative session for teachers, state law enforcement, and D.F.C.S workers.  

Our final question in our interview friday: Speaker Ralston do you see the governor’s mansion in your future?

Insider Advantage/James Magazine Present “Influential Georgians” Awards

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Insider Advantage/James Magazine Present “Influential Georgians” Awards

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IAG CEO Phil Kent and Speaker of the House David Ralston present the ‘Top Legislators’ award to Rep. Barry Fleming, Rep. Stacey Evans, & Sen. Steve Gooch

 

Atlanta’s Commerce Club was the venue yesterday evening for the Insider Advantage/James Magazine “2016 Influential Georgians” reception sponsored by the Atlanta law firm Hall Booth and Smith. Approximately 70 attendees– ranging from various state and local elected officials to prominent business, judicial and political leaders– were welcomed by Insider Advantage/James CEO and Publisher Phil Kent and Hall Booth Smith Managing Partner John Hall.

Phil Kent presents the ‘2016 Influential Georgians Award’ to Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers

Kent presented the “2016 Influential Georgians Award” to Georgia Power Company CEO Paul Bowers.

Bowers became chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power in 2010, having previously served as chief financial officer of the Southern Company. His business, civic and charitable service is wide-ranging an impressive— which is why James chose him for the award. His board memberships include serving on the University System Board of Regents, the Georgia Research Alliance, the Georgia Historical Society, the Atlanta Committee for Progress and the policy advisory board for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. He was also the 2015 chairman of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

A special guest was Georgia House of Representatives Speaker David Ralston, who presented three InsiderAdvantage/James “2016 Lawmakers of the Year” awards. The recipients were state Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, who was elected majority whip of the Senate GOP Caucus in 2014 and has been a key policy-maker in the critical area of transportation; state Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, a lawyer known as a voice for, among other issues, restoring and preserving the HOPE Scholarship; and state Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, an attorney who has sponsored numerous criminal justice bills.

Ralston commended Kent along with InsiderAdvantage/James Magazine “for presenting fair and balanced information necessary to all Georgians— and I don’t usually praise the media.”

Attendees included prominent business people, members of the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, various judges and lawyers, the state’s attorney general, Republican and Democrat activists, high-powered lobbyists of government affairs firms, a bipartisan group of state legislators and former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell.

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GMFTO

Stan Helton will be sworn in Friday at 2 P.M. He will then be officially the Chairman Commissioner of Fannin County. On Wednesday Helton and Post Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee requested Rita Davis Kirby resignation. Kirby holds two county positions, CFO and Clerk. Kirby was told that if she did not resign that they would terminate her in January. Fannin County is required to vote to dismiss department heads so Helton and Sosebee where showing Kirby they have the votes.

I spoke with Helton concerning his request for Kirby’s resignation. Helton did not give me any specific reason just that he was putting his administration’s team together and Kirby would not be a part of the team. I then asked about the County Attorney Lynn Doss. Would he address the conflict with her representing different offices in the county along with her itemizing her monthly bill. Doss receives $5,700 a month for her services as county attorney no questions asked. No one can even tell me who set the amount. Helton told me “We have a good county attorney and I am satisfied with her.”
Kirby’s husband is the newly re-elected Sheriff Dane Kirby. Just say’in! Listen to my full report for more details. #BKP

7th District State Representative Candidates on FYN’s Candidate Day

Election, Politics

Sam Snider and David Ralston speak on FYN’s Candidate Day for the citizens on the eve of the election day.

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Letter to the Editor

Letters to Editor

The image of David Ralston his political detractors are trying to paint is absurd and far from reality.  It is a desperate attempt to smear the character of a fine public servant in the hopes of gaining a few votes for a losing campaign. David Ralston was the outsider elected Speaker whose leadership repaired the image of a legislative chamber badly tarnished by scandal into a functioning house committed to responsible legislation in service to Georgians.

David Ralston is truly a life-long Republican who spent most of his early political career in the minority. He was first elected to the state Senate in 1992 defeating an incumbent Republican who had switched parties. That was the same year, Sonny Perdue (D) was re-elected to the state Senate and Nathan Deal (D) was exiting that same chamber to win a seat in the U.S. Congress.  David was a pioneer for conservative principles and building the Republican Party in Georgia before our last two Governors had even joined the GOP.

When he was first elected to the state House, David was not a member of the “in crowd.” His predecessor stripped his political opponents of preferred committee assignments and challenged leaders of his own party to public fights. As a result, issues that needed immediate attention fell to the wayside as political theatrics took center stage.

David challenged the status quo and the Speaker at that time and lost. He paid a political price for his courage in challenging the powers that be. After all, that’s the way things had been done in Georgia for years. Political retribution had long been a common practice.

In 2010, David Ralston was nominated and elected Speaker by his colleagues on a promise to change the attitude of leadership and build a cooperative culture that would focus on respectful debate and putting the needs of Georgians over special interests. It was a promise he kept.

David Ralston could have chosen to follow the path of his predecessors. He could have sought retribution against those who had previously punished him. But, he didn’t. Instead he brought his fellow house members together and built upon a Republican majority.  Within months of David taking the helm of leadership several house members switched parties building the largest GOP majority in state history.  Many credited the improved climate implemented by Speaker Ralston as an impetus for the switch.

No individual has made a more positive impact on the political discourse in Georgia than David Ralston. His detractors would have us believe it is a result of his lack of commitment to conservative principles. They are wrong. It’s a result of his commitment to those very conservative principles.

For three decades, the people of the 7th District have trusted the leadership of David Ralston.  That sphere of trust in his leadership has expanded throughout all of Georgia. David Ralston has led numerous legislative achievements.  But no achievement has been more significant than the culture of cooperation now found in the House of Representatives.  For that, we are a better and stronger Georgia.

Hank Burnham

Athens, GA 30606

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