Georgia Gov. Deal speaks to firefighters

ALBANY — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, speaking to a large group of firefighters from all sections of Georgia Thursday, outlined his plans to make Georgia a more attractive state for businesses.

Deal discussed education, transportation infrastructure, water, medical access and general quality of life during his remarks at the annual conference of the Georgia State Firefighters Association and the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs.

The state, Deal said, must continue to improve its work force, it’s ability to transport goods and to improve medical care and public safety. On the point of safety, Deal addressed the firefighters on a personal level.

“Thank you for what you do,” Deal told firefighters in the room. “I thank you for the fact you’re willing to learn to learn, and as long as I’m the governor, my door will be open to you.”

Deal said that to better fill needed job positions in Georgia, including nursing positions, students in those majors will receive greater HOPE funding, up to 90 percent. Also in place, Deal said, are programs to help those students who are failing in their first semester of technical school or college.

“We started a program with a $ million grant from a private institution, implemented so that students don’t get flunked out after their first semester without some intervention, some ability to try to provide help for them to graduate,” Deal said. “We have great hope that will increase the number graduates from those institutions.”

Deal also said his administration has worked hard to settle the “water wars” involving Georgia, Alabama and Florida, but with little success. Deal said Florida is preparing to sue Georgia over issues concerning the amount of water that flows from Georgia rivers into Florida.

Deal said that the Southwestern section of Georgia and its agricultural products remain a high priority in his administration.

“Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Georgia,” Deal said, “We will not abandon that.”