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Bell hopes Harvard seminar offers new ideas in water war
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Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell is shipping out to Boston on Friday to learn new ways to tackle one of the county’s toughest issues — water.

Bell received a fellowship to participate in a seminar called Leadership for the 21st Century: Chaos, Conflict and Courage at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The program offers more than just theoretical knowledge.

“You have to have a particular situation where you are that is challenging and poses a need for leadership and has elements of chaos and conflict,” Bell said. “It’s not cookie-cutter education where they teach everybody the same thing. They actually take the specifics of where you are and help you with specific challenges.”

Bell chose water as the issue to tackle at the seminar. He will pose the challenges of building Hall County’s proposed Glades Reservoir in response to Georgia’s water war with Florida and Alabama.

“With us, we have a short-term component to meet the deadline that Judge (Paul) Magnuson has laid out for us. We also have a long-term component, which is to make sure that the next generation has adequate supply of water to secure economic development as well as making sure we have the basic amount of water to sustain the quality of life that we enjoy here in the

Gainesville-Hall County area through the use of Lake Lanier,” Bell said.

After a week of intensive courses, Bell expects to come home with a new perspective on Hall County’s water situation.

 “Hopefully it helps you find different solutions to problems that you have, and I feel confident that’s going to happen,” Bell said.

Other government officials in the program will share their thoughts on the situation as well.

“It’s going to be eye-opening to work with other elected officials from around the world,” Bell said. “My water issues are very dire to my area just as much as security would be to a local elected official in Israel. People have totally different nuances to how they have to run local government around the world.”

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