In a few short years, Chet Powell has taken Reed Bingham State Park to heights that his father probably only dreamed of. He has accomplished this despite some of the worst economic years that Georgia has faced since the Great Depression by using innovative programs and excellent management practices.
We all know this, but there is an important point that everyone is missing. Chet knew that the economy was, in a way, irrelevant. Reed Bingham has always had to fight to get anything.
Chet was only six years old when his father became the first manager at Reed Bingham. My good friend, C.J. Powell, was a leader and a motivator and he knew how to stretch a buck. I heard him say many times that it was the local communities that truly built Reed Bingham.
C.J. felt that the Reed Bingham State Park never got the support from Atlanta that it deserved, particularly as it grew older. While other parks were getting cottages, lodges and interpretive centers, Reed Bingham was used as a place to send managers for punishment. Our park eventually went into a comatose state while managers came and went.
Chet was promoted to manager at Reed Bingham after working his way up. He was not satisfied with just having the title. He wanted to move the park forward which he has done. From his father’s experience, he knew that financial support for new projects was unlikely, but he also remembered what the local communities could do when they pulled together.
Chet also applied for grants and encouraged corporations to give financial and in-kind contributions. Under his management, Reed Bingham had one of its best years in 2009. Georgia is now halfway through the 2010 fiscal year and despite the continuing state deficit, Reed Bingham is still thriving and expanding programs.
Now the DNR has decided to remove Chet Powell, against his and our wishes, and place him at another park. They assured us that the park would continue as before. Before what? We did not like the park before Chet and his handpicked staff changed it back into a place to be proud of again. The community support to keep him at Reed Bingham continues to grow throughout South Georgia. Chet Powell brought us back together and made us proud again. Now we need to fight to keep him there.
In these tough economic times our Reed Bingham Park could be another incentive for drawing new business to our area because of the recreation it offers under the leadership of Chet Powell.
We need to all stand behind Chet and offer our support by contacting our state senators and representatives to let them know what a fine job he is doing at our park and ask them to please try to keep him here. We are entitled to his kind of experience even if we do live in the “other Georgia.”
Aaron Vick III