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Averitt honored

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The Georgia Board of Public Safety doesn't usually meet in Statesboro, but Thursday's meeting was an exception. The board held its October meeting at Georgia Southern University's Nessmith-Lane Building in order to honor a former board member, Hal Averitt.
    Gov. Sonny Perdue, chairman of the board, was slated to lead the meeting, but was unable to do so because of conflicting scheduling, said Vice Chairman James Donald, who took over the program.
    "We're here in Statesboro to honor a fellow board member," he said. Recalling Averitt's dedication to community service and helping others, he reminded others of how Averitt always wanted to do "what's right."
    "That was reflective of Mr. Hal to do what's right," he said.
    Donald introduced Dr. Michael Guido to give the invocation for the meeting.
    Before praying, Guido said "When it comes to giving, most people stop at 'nothing'. Not Hal. He gave his heart to God. Because Hal cared, he shared. He was anxious to hurt himself to help others."
    Members of the Georgia State Patrol Post 45, where Averitt's son David H. Averitt Jr. is employed as a senior trooper, attended the meeting, as well as representatives from the Governor's Office, Georgia Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
    Other local leaders, including Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson, Statesboro Police Chief Stan York,  Metter Mayor Billy Trapnell, Statesboro City Councilman Joe Brannen, Bulloch County Commission Chairman Garrett Nevil, Sen. Jack Hill and more filled the room to honor Averitt. Many close friends of the man were present as well.
    "He's a worthy man of what we're doing this morning," said James Lientz, who introduced the Averitt family.
    In Perdue's stead, Georgia State Patrol Col. Bill Hitchens read a resolution in Averitt's honor before presenting the framed declaration to his wife, Connie Averitt.
    Afterward, guests were invited to speak.
    "Mr. Hal would sit in his seat and you could tell he was like a sponge," said Dale Mann, director of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. "It was a pleasure to have him on the board. His experience was vast and his commitment was the strongest I've ever seen."
    Local businessman Raybon Anderson referred to Averitt as "my good friend," and told listeners he brought no notes, but "I'm going to speak from my heart if I can.
    "(Averitt) Always had time for me, but mainly, he had time for his community," he said. Touting Averitt as having been a strong supporter of his church and a dedicated family man, he said "He had a love to serve and he served well.
    "I can't say all what he's done for this community, and he never would take any credit," he continued. "He didn't want any credit and he wouldn't accept any credit, but he loved this community. He just wanted to be a partner ... for a better place, and that's what he did."
    Georgia Southern University President Bruce Grube said Averitt, who also served on the Board of Regents,  was "instrumental in convincing me and (his wife) Katherine that Georgia would be a great place to live." He credited Averitt for "rescuing me from Minnesota and bringing me to warm Georgia."
    Sen. Jack Hill called Averitt "a great role model ... who epitomized all the good things about public service. He truly was in public service for the right reasons."
    The Board of Public Safety held a short recess after the honors, then resumed regular business.
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