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State official visits county
Oxendine talks to Rotary, CES
oxendine 2 jd
John Oxendine gives third grade teacher Tammy Waddell, center, a plastic firefighter's hat, while Cumming Elementary Principal Pam Pajerski adjusts her's. Oxendine named both women honorary fire marshals, as well as Sheriff Ted Paxton and Lt. Jody Chapman. - photo by Jim Dean

John Oxendine shared some useful information about fire safety and named four honorary fire marshals during a visit Tuesday.

Oxendine, Georgia’s insurance and safety fire commissioner, spent much of the day in Forsyth County, beginning with a visit to the Rotary Club of Lanier-Forsyth at 7:30 a.m.

Though he reminded Rotarians to change batteries in smoke detectors when setting their clocks back for daylight savings Saturday night, he also took the opportunity to discuss key issues facing the state.

Oxendine, one of several Republican hopefuls running for governor in 2010, covered state transportation and water issues.

He also talked about cuts he made to his own department, saying his agency should be a model for efficient government.

“One reason we have a budget crisis in government is it’s too big,” he said. “It’s gotten way too big and I think we need to use this as an opportunity to get government smaller.

“But then when the economic times turn around, let’s keep government smaller.”

Questions from Rotarians focused mostly on water.

They asked if Oxendine’s plan to build reservoirs would be funded locally or by the state.

“Local authorities need to secure a source of water,” he said. “The state needs to have the savings account. The local water authority has the checking account, the day-to-day operations of water. But we need to have a piggy bank ... so when we do have a drought, we have that reserve.”

After the Rotary meeting, Oxendine headed to Cumming Elementary School, where he talked about about fire safety with students in Tammy Waddell’s third-grade class.

He told students to have their parents change their smoke detector batteries every Easter and Halloween.

Oxendine named both Waddell and Principal Pam Pajerski honorary fire marshals.

Shortly after 10 a.m., Oxendine met with Forsyth County Sheriff Ted Paxton and Lt. Jody Chapman, who he also named honorary fire marshals.

Oxendine commended Paxton on recent awards.

“He just wanted to do a little something, a token from his office to recognize our achievements,” Paxton said. “We appreciate him taking the time to stop by and recognizing what we’ve done.”

Online Editor Jim Dean contributed to this story.