Sunday, August 11, 2013

New Faculty Tour: Last Day Wrap-up

Written by Beverly Johnson, public service assistant in governmental services and research, and Mara Register, public service assistant in governmental training, education and development, of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Our last day is bittersweet. As we gather in the lobby, it begins to set in that this is our last day of the tour and that this wonderful journey is coming to an end. 

Our day began with a warm greeting from Malik Watkins, public service associate at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Malik escorts us to the Chatham County Metropolitan Planning Commission and introduces us to Ellen Harris, director of urban planning and historic preservation; and Bridget Lidy, tourism administrator in the City of Savannah Citizen Office. After a brief overview of Savannah's history, we take a short walking tour of Savannah's historic district.

The city is a wonderful mix of old and new. City planners and preservationists have masterfully woven national chains among local businesses to create a very cozy downtown. Much of this accomplishment can be attributed to "the seven women of Savannah," who began Savannah's historic preservation efforts. The city's effort has resulted in 12 National Register districts and 22 of its original 24 squares. 

Five facts on Savannah: 

  • Founded by James Edward Oglethorpe in 1733, Savannah was the 13th colony and first capitol of Georgia.
  • The squares found in downtown Savannah are a result of the Oglethorpe Plan.
  • Spanish moss does not grow in the trees located in the center of most squares because there is no wind. Wind is required to spread moss to the trees.
  • Savannah is the home of Savannah College of Art and Design and has a very lively arts scene.
  • Street parking issues created problems in Savannah. In response, the city has transitioned to an underground garage system. Built in 2008, Whitaker Street Garage has four levels underground, space for 1,065 vehicles and sits beneath one of the city's most popular squares.

Next stop: Georgia Ports Authority!

Chief Frank Manson of the Georgia Ports Authority Police Department provided a very informative tour of the port of Savannah. The port supports trade in 150 countries, with Asia ranking the highest. This port receives and sends shipments by rail, truck and ship on a continuous basis, and works with the FBI, DEA and other federal agencies. 

The port of Savannah is a major component of Georgia's economic engine connecting Georgia's businesses to the world and creating 7 percent of Georgia's total employment. Efforts are underway to deepen the port to allow larger vessels to pass through, resulting in increased trade and thriving Georgia businesses. Many are surprised that this major effort to deepen the canal with increase its depth by six feet. 

Five fast facts:
  • The Port of Savannah is the 4th largest port in the United States and the largest port on the East Coast.
  • The Port of Savannah creates 295,443 full- and part-time jobs. 
  • In 2010, 1,582,078 containers, equating to 25,059,092 tons, were processed through the Port of Savannah.
  • The three largest exports from the Port of Savannah are kaolin, wood and bio-mass.
  • An average of 9,000 trucks pass through the Port of Savannah every day.
Next stop: Plant Vogtle!

Georgia Power Company Community Development Manager Mike Worley provided our group with a tour of Plant Vogtle. Officially named the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, this site is one of two Georgia Power Company-maintained nuclear facilities. Ownership of the plant is divided among four entities: Georgia Power Company (45.7 percent), Oglethorpe Power Company (30 percent), Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (22.7 percent) and the City of Dalton (1.6 percent).

The plant is located on 3,200 acres ideally situated along the Savannah River. The river is vital to the operation of the facility because continuous water flow is required to run the nuclear reactors on the site. There are currently two units in operations with two additional units currently under construction. The newest units are the first new nuclear units in the United States in 30 years.

Our group was given a tour of the control room simulator. This simulator is used to train employees to work in the control facility for the two new units. Each day, these trainees work through various scenarios in preparation for federal certification and licensure required to operate a nuclear plant control facility. 

Five fast facts:
  • Twenty-percent of Georgia's electricity is produced at Plant Vogtle.
  • Each of the two cooling towers circulate 500,000 gallons of water per minute.
  • The movie The Great Escape is based upon the life of Alvin Vogtle (Note: The motorcycle escape was a dramatic addition to the script). 
  • Fifty-percent of Plant Vogtle's current employees will retire within the next five years. 
  • Georgia Power's additional nuclear plant is Plant Hatch, located near Baxley and named for Edwin I. Hatch, who served as president of Georgia Power from 1963 to 1975.

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