Originally created 03/03/05

Georgia Power honored at Scout luncheon



Georgia Power CEO Michael Garrett said Wednesday that the state's perennial high dropout rate is its biggest barrier to economic growth.

The top executive of the state's largest utility company told a gathering of the Georgia-Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts of America that four in 10 Georgia public school students who enter the ninth grade will not graduate.

"That's 60,000 students a year," Mr. Garrett said. "That's four busloads of students a day that leave school never to return."

Mr. Garrett, a Georgia native and former Boy Scout, attended the council's annual Good Scout Luncheon, which honored Georgia Power for its contributions to scouting.

"Ninety-five percent of Scouts finish school," he said to the 150 people in attendance at Augusta Towers Hotel. "The things you are doing are important to this state."

Georgia Power won the council's inaugural Corporate Good Scout Award for extending power to the group's new Knox Scout Reservation in Lincoln County for free.

"There's no better corporate partner we can think of," council Executive Director Bill Lesshafft said. "They do more than just help the Scouts."

Mr. Garrett said Georgia Power's 8,500 employees are active in more than 1,700 civic groups. The company also gives nearly $9 million back to the communities in which it operates, 25 percent of which is earmarked for education, he said.

On Wednesday, the council also presented Good Scout Awards to local businessman Ray Bourne and wife Maurica and Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength. The council presented Golden Eagle Awards to family members of the late Lt. Ed Harris and Lt. Howard Strength, both of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.