2013-05-16 / Front Page

Street will be renamed ‘Rev. G.L. Avery Drive’ as council remembers late civic, church leader

By Kip Burke
news editor

In its regular May meeting Monday night, Mayor Ames Barnett and the Washington City Council agreed to move forward to change the name of a street to honor a community and church leader who died recently.

The council reacted favorably to a request by former Councilman Patricia Wilder to change the name of Mercer Street to “Rev. G.L. Avery Drive” to honor the memory of Rev. Avery, the founder of the Wilkes NAACP, church pastor, city councilman, and leader.

“In honor of the Rev. G.L. Avery, who resided on this street for over 50 years, and had a legacy of this community, who served as pastor, activist, and politician,” she said. “He led the fight against segregation and successfully litigated various areas of unfair treatment in the ­Wilkes County area. A man with many accomplishments in his lifetime, one who visited, prayed with, and befriended all who knew him, even his enemies.”

Speaking for the family, Wilder said, “We believe this to be a fitting contribution to his legacy,” she said, “and an opportunity for the youth of this community to learn and share in his many accomplishments to help them be encouraged and enhance their perspective on becoming an asset to their community.”

There are 17 households on Mercer Street, and at least 75 percent of the households must agree to the name change for it to go forward, Wilder reminded the council.

“He was a fine man and this is a good way to honor Rev. Avery,” Mayor Barnett said. “We’ll get the process going to make this change.”

Wilder also thanked the city council, city workers, police officers, and others who helped with Rev. Avery’s funeral, which filled the Pope Center Sunday May 5 “You had everything set up so beautifully for the services, things were so well organized, and we thank you all,” she said.

City leaders celebrated the opening of the Washington-Wilkes Career Center Athens Technical College, welcoming Athens Tech’s Vice President Jerry Barrow and Anna Jones, Director of Business and Industry Services. “On behalf of Athens Tech President Dr. Flora Tydings, I’d like to say thank you,” Barrow said. “After seeing it the way it was, it’s very exciting to me to go into that building and see what can happen when the city and county and the community come together to renovate that building. It is absolutely magnificent.”

He urged the community to contact lead instructor Corey Miller to get information on the classes offered at the center.

“This is a great day for Wilkes County and Washington, Georgia,” Mayor Barnett said. “I thank Athens Tech for jumping in and becoming an important part of this community.”

The council also voted to pass the Washington Urban Redevelopment Plan 2, to cover redevelopment efforts over the next five years, including the Gordon Street school property and other efforts.

Representing the Kettle Creek Battlefield Association, David Chesnut addressed the council concerning a pen-and-ink drawing of action at Kettle Creek done by Wilbur G. Kurtz. The image will be displayed in the planned Kettle Creek visitors center, but until the center is built, the association is loaning the print to the Washington Historical Museum to be on view with other Kettle Creek artifacts.

Citizen Richard Crabbe rose to ask the councilmen if there was a way to keep heavy truck traffic off South Jefferson Street, since long tractor-trailers regularly get stuck and damage property there. The municipal code shows truck traffic on that street is illegal, he said, but police say the truck drivers are just following their GPS and do nothing. Crabbe asked that the council make an effort to have the law enforced and to improve signage for trucks.

The council also passed a resolution supporting a $400,000 economic development EIP, and passed a beer and wine license for CJ’s Pizzeria.

The next regular meeting of the city council is set for Monday, June 10.

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