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'All I want for Christmas is ... '

Local leaders tell us what's on their Christmas wish lists

POSTED: February 24, 2008 5:01 a.m.

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The Times staff asked local officials about their Christmas wishes for the community: "What would you ask for if you could have any Christmas wish come true?" Here are their responses.

Will Schofield
Superintendent, Hall County Schools

"If I could have any wish for Christmas, it would be for my Lord Jesus to return to gather his people as he has promised. Now that would be a Christmas present to remember."

Myrtle Figueras
Gainesville city councilwoman

"I would love for everybody to have a deep desire to make a positive difference in and on the lives of others. That's my great big deal, what I live for, and I hope everybody else would want to live for, too."

Danny Dunagan
Gainesville city councilman

Wants prosperity and health, peace on earth and rain.

Diane Hirling
Flowery Branch mayor

"I would like an expanded sewer plant and a finished streetscape. And if it happens before Christmas, I'd believe in Santa Claus again."

Stan Brown
Oakwood city manager

"I would like more sewer capacity and a new downtown. I'd also like to see the completion of the I-985 interchange."

Jim Gardner
President and CEO of Northeast Georgia Medical Center and Health System

"I would like to see a comprehensive, funded trauma bill passed (by the Georgia General Assembly). The overwhelming majority of trauma patients in our 13-county area are treated here, not at Grady (Memorial Hospital in Atlanta). But we can't take care of the most complex cases, because we don't have the infrastructure. And that's mainly due to lack of funding."

Jackie Joseph
President of the Lake Lanier Association

"I'd like a speedy agreement between the states (in the tri-state water war) to resolve this 18-year litigation. Without that, even if we get significant rain, we're still going to have problems with Lake Lanier. I don't see anything on the table from Florida or Alabama so far that has been reasonable."

Rick Foote
Natural resources coordinator for Hall County

"It would be nice to have a new recycling center. We're using an older building that we retrofitted, and it's not really set up for recycling. We don't have a classroom for all the school groups that come through here for tours. Also, the location (on Chestnut Street) is very difficult to get in and out of. It's almost impossible to make a left turn (onto U.S. 129)."

Cheryl Christian
Executive director, Good News Clinics

"I wish that we were able to provide access to health care for everyone in the community. There are an estimated 21,000 residents in Hall County without insurance. It seems so sad that we have (in Gainesville) some of the best health care in the state, yet so many people don't have access to it."

Debbie Wilburn
Consumer science agent, Hall County Extension Service

"I wish people would realize the importance of healthy eating and exercise, and that there are many risk factors they can control. When people make their resolutions around the new year, I hope they will actually stick to them. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is a healthy lifestyle."

Robert "Bob" Hamrick
Gainesville mayor

"It's fairly simple. That everyone know and feel the true meaning of Christmas, and each one receive a guardian angel in their stocking that would provide every necessity that would sustain a full and meaningful life all during the year."

Mamie Coker
Health services coordinator, Hall County Schools

"I wish every child had dental care. Even the kids who have Medicaid, a lot of the dentists won't treat them. We do have the Hall County Health Department and the Good News clinic, but they're overwhelmed. Sometimes we'll see a child with a tooth so decayed it's worn down to the gum line. When a student is hurting like that, they can't learn in school."

Lee Darragh
Northeastern Judicial Circuit district attorney

"That justice be done in all the cases we prosecute in the DA's Office for the victims of our community. On a personal level, that I and my family grow in Christ each day, and that my daughter Elizabeth, expecting our first grandchild , have a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby."

George Wangemann
Gainesville city councilman

"I want plenty of water for everybody, so I'd like the lake refilled. I'd certainly like lower taxes although I don't know that that'll happen. I'd certainly like peace on earth, freedom from terrorists, but true peace comes to individuals. I'd like a more unified America, and I think it goes without saying that I'd like that for our community. I want love in each and every home of our community, and more wisdom to deal with any of the upcoming and future challenges that may come our way."

Frank Hooper
Gainesville police chief

"My Christmas wish would be for peace on earth and that all mankind would do unto others as they would do unto themselves."

Steve Cronic
Hall County sheriff

"That we would all take the time to remember the true meaning of Christmas, acknowledging God's gift of salvation to us through his son, Jesus Christ, and in doing so we might be closer to him and to each other this Christmas season."

Scott Cagle
Hall County fire marshal

"I would like for Hall county to be fire-free. This means no more people losing their homes, no one getting burned, no one losing their lives due to fires and no more firefighters getting hurt on the job. On a personal note I would like to see everyone treat each other with respect, kindness, compassion and love. What a place this would be if we all did that! Last thing would be for everyone to be in a good church."

Ruth Bruner
Gainesville city councilwoman

"A continued sense of community and caring about each other throughout the community. And a strengthening of a community-wide committment to protecting trees and green space."

Kelly Randall
Gainesville director of public utilities

"A big rainstorm would be the best. A full reservoir, you know? The end of this drought - that would be the perfect world."

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle
"If any Christmas wish I had would come true, I would begin with a wish for significant rainfall throughout our state. I would want the kind of continued, heavy rainfall that would fill each and every reservoir and most importantly, our beautiful Lake Lanier!

"Then I would wish for continued blessing and favor on the people of Georgia. Our state has much to be grateful for - a sound economy, growing businesses, many job opportunities, good school systems, churches that care, wonderful communities that include young children who are our the future leaders of our state. Finally, I would wish that those in Georgia who are most in need would be provided for in a way that will give them hope for a very bright future."

Michael Moye
Lanier Technical College president

"What I'd like to see Santa Claus bring this year is water for Lake Lanier. I think that's something that we are in desperate need of, and, along with that water, a good management plan that will keep Lake Lanier full."

Tom Oliver
County commission chairman

"I want for the families of Hall County to be safe and comfortable with their government and to feel taken care of."

Martha Nesbitt
Gainesville State College president

"Globally, I wish for world peace. Regionally, I wish for lots of rain and a resolution to the water issue, so that we don't have to suffer through another crisis as the one we are now facing. Locally, I wish that the Georgia General Assembly will approve the University System's Strategic Capital Plan that includes a classroom building for the Gainesville Campus in the 2010 budget."

Steven Ballowe
Gainesville city schools superintendent

He wishes "for every soldier in every country to be able to be home for Christmas and without any reason for any to return in the new year ever to do the dirty work that happens with politics."

Richard Higgins
Hall County Board of Education chairman

"I wish that we could bring the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to a positive end and all the soldiers could be at home with their families for Christmas."




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