2011-08-04 / Front Page

New decor, furnishings now welcome VIP visitors to spiffed-up Pope Center


Gracious new furnishings welcomed VIP guests at last week’s GIC meeting, including Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Craig Lesser, former state Commissioner of Economic Development. Gracious new furnishings welcomed VIP guests at last week’s GIC meeting, including Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Craig Lesser, former state Commissioner of Economic Development. When more than 130 business, civic, and government leaders came to the Pope Center for the Georgia Competitiveness Initiative meeting last Thursday, they found a convention center that had been transformed.

Instead of visitors walking down an empty, institutional-looking hallway, several conversation areas with sofas, end tables, lamps and plants welcomed the scores of influential state, regional, and local leaders. Thanks to the efforts of the owners of Washington businesses, the Pope Center shone like a new penny – but it took work.

“When we came in to decorate,” John Horton said, “it was dirty. So first we cleaned, then my wife Rita and Michael Bailey, Joe Barnett, and Angie Strother got together and decorated this place room by room.”


More than 130 leaders from Washington-Wilkes and nearby counties came to the Pope Center last Thursday for the Georgia Competitiveness Initiative meeting. More than 130 leaders from Washington-Wilkes and nearby counties came to the Pope Center last Thursday for the Georgia Competitiveness Initiative meeting. The entrance to the conference center was decorated by Marcia Paxton and Louise Grimaud of Miss Fancy Plants, Horton said. Plants outside the entrance and inside added a finished look to the building that it had never had.

“We hope the City of Washington will see fit to let us keep the Pope Center looking nice like this,” Horton said. “Everyone says it’s made a terrific impression on our visitors.”

The meeting’s guest speaker was the newly appointed Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, Hank M. Huckaby, and Washington and Wilkes County leaders hoped that Chancellor Huckaby noticed what a nice meeting facility the newly decorated and furnished Pope Center could be for academic retreats and meetings in the future.

“Our location halfway between Athens and Augusta makes us a natural meeting place for that kind of thing, and we made sure the new chancellor of the university system was well aware of that,” County Commissioner Ed Geddings said. “I believe he was impressed.”

Return to top