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OTC President Gets “Golden Peanut” Award


OTC President Gail Thaxton was presented the Golden Peanut Award by USDA Rural Development State Director Stone Workman last month at an OTC staff meeting.

“I wanted to recognize a few people and organizations that have contributed significantly to improving the quality of life in rural Georgia,” stated Workman. “Okefenokee Technical College, under the leadership of Gail Thaxton, has done just that.”Dr. Gail Thaxton and Stone Workman

“Dr. Gail Thaxton and OTC,” continued Workman, “have set a precedent for other educational institutions regarding the benefits of partnering with the USDA Rural Development through rural business enterprise grants.”

Since 2001, when Workman was appointed by President George Bush to head the lead federal agency charged with assisting community, business, and housing development in rural Georgia, Okefenokee Technical College has received over $409,000 in USDA grants to equip programs and improve services. Five of the six grants were awarded within the past three years.

The equipment purchased from USDA grants benefits students in several programs: Commercial Truck Driving ($176,500), Environmental Horticulture ($55,000), Practical Nursing & Radiologic Technology ($99,000), and Computer Information Systems ($61,842). A much needed renovation project in Student Affairs ($17,500) has improved accessibility and services.

“One thing for sure,” commented Workman about the day’s events, “this group sure can keep a secret.”

The award came as a surprise to Thaxton, who accepted it stating, “Thank you so much. This is quite an honor and a surprise! I accept the award on behalf of the OTC staff because the success of these projects was a collaborative effort of the entire staff and USDA. It’s partnerships like this that are needed to support learning for students and economic development for the community.”

USDA Area Specialist Tommy Hatcher and OTC Board Chair Ola Smith joined Workman for the surprise presentation. Afterwards, Public Relations Director Cindy Tanner presented Workman with an appreciation gift for his commitment to workforce development in rural Georgia, for his leadership, and for his continued support of technical education.

Tanner praised the USDA regional staff, especially Tommy Hatcher, and the OTC staff, specifically Vice President for Administrative Services Pam Farr, for their part, as well, in securing USDA grants.

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