On Wednesday, July
25, 1956, Marvin Griffin returned to Chattooga County for the first
time as governor to speak at a meeting of the Chattooga County
Committee for Better Roads. The meeting was held at the Memorial Home
and followed a barbecue lunch.
State Representative James “Sloppy” Floyd acted as master of
ceremonies. Dr. Hugh Goodwin, chairman of the Chattooga County
Committee for Better Roads, gave the welcoming address. Summerville
attorney Arch Farrar Sr., a former state senator, introduced Governor
Griffin spoke of the four principle departments of
state government – education, highways, public welfare, and public
health. He told the crowd of 250 invited guests that two sections of
four-lane highway along U.S. Highway 27 would soon be built in the
county. One section would be built from Trion into Walker County. The
other section would add lanes from the Floyd/Chattooga county line into
Summerville. The governor stated the work would widen dangerously
narrow bridges and eliminate numerous curves.
Griffin (seated center) enjoyed a barbecue lunch at the Memorial Home
prior to his speech. Seated right is Summerville attorney Arch Farrar
Sr. The man standing center is unidentified.
Griffin told the Memorial Home guests the 6.5 cent-per-gallon tax on
gasoline and the price increase on car tags were necessary
steps in raising funds to match federal aid for highway projects.
to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, "Upon taking office in 1955, Griffin
reneged on a campaign promise and pushed through an increase in the
state income tax, which was needed to offset an expected shortfall in
revenues. After the tax increase, the Griffin administration
accomplished a great deal for Georgia. The Rural Roads Authority paved
nearly 12,000 miles of rural roads in the state. Appropriations for
education increased by 50 percent, and teacher salaries rose
approximately 25 percent."
After his speech, Governor Griffin shakes hands with an unidentified guest.
From left to right: Arch Farrar Sr., State Representative James
"Sloppy" Floyd, (in back) unidentified, Governor Marvin Griffin, Dr.
Hugh Goodwin, (partially hidden) State Representative Paul Weems, and
row from left to right: State Representative James "Sloppy" Floyd,
Governor Marvin Griffin, Dr. Hugh Goodwin, State Representative Paul
Weems, and unidentified. In back are Arch Farrar Sr. and an
photograph appears to be from the same event, but was found unlabeled
in the archive. The man on the left is unidentified; the one on the
right looks like future Congressman John Davis.
Despite many accomplishments, Griffin's
administration was marred by charges of corruption, and a later
campaign for governor was foiled by Carl Sanders. Griffin retired from
politics, citing ill health, but not his own, explaining the voters
were "sick and tired of me."
The information in the opening paragraphs is from the Summerville News. Photographs by T. Emmett Nunn. Courtesy of Chattooga County Library.