COURTNEY GALE – Vice Chair of Citizens for South Oconee County
Courtney Gale grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, and first moved to Northeast Georgia to attend the University of Georgia. Soon after graduating from UGA in 1998 with a BS in Agriculture, emphasis in Animal Science, and a minor in Criminal Justice, she joined the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, believing that she could “make a difference.” She eventually moved into criminal investigation and was promoted to supervising Sergeant over officers.
While working in Athens, Courtney relocated to the town of Bishop in neighboring Oconee County. Bishop’s setting offered qualities she found very appealing – history, agriculture, and community. As development pressures came to Bishop, she worked with other concerned citizens to facilitate a town design workshop and ultimately was elected to the Bishop Town Council.
In 2004, Courtney moved out of Bishop to the even more rural Farmington area in South Oconee County. When development pressures reared their head yet again in Farmington, Courtney took a leadership role in organizing a citizen response, helping to found and lead a group called Citizens for South Oconee County. In 2006, Courtney applied to the County Board of Commissioners for an appointment to the Land Use and Transportation Committee. She was subsequently appointed to this citizens’ advisory committee but continues her work with Citizens for South Oconee County as Vice Chair for Strategic Planning. Courtney states that she still believes she can “make a difference” in the community where she lives and works and that she is “feverishly proactive in the quest for justice, preservation, and a sense of community.”
TONY GLENN – Chair of Citizens for South Oconee County
Dr. Anthony (Tony) Glenn is a research scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, and he lives in a wonderful old farmhouse (circa 1897) in the South Oconee County community of Farmington with his wife, Lorraine Thompson, who is the Drama Department Head at Athens Academy. Tony and Lorraine hail from Montgomery, Alabama, and came to the University of Georgia in 1993 for graduate school. They were fortunate to remain in the area after receiving their degrees, and in February 2003, they moved to Farmington. Having a deep appreciation for rural culture and heritage, Tony and Lorraine were excited to find a community that shared their desire to retain these qualities while embracing another unique feature of Oconee County, the visual arts. Farmington and the broader south Oconee County area are home to numerous potters, painters, sculptors, and craftsmen.
Due to emerging commercial and residential development pressures in the Farmington area, Tony partnered with nearby friends Michael Reuter and Courtney Gale in January 2006 to establish the citizens’ advocacy group, Citizens for South Oconee County (CSOC). In addition to serving as a representative voice when interacting with the county’s political system, CSOC has focused on being proactive with efforts to foster community development through various activities such as pot-luck dinners, holiday celebrations, and political candidate forums.
DR. RUSS PAGE – Farmers’ Advocate
Dr. Russ Page considers himself to be first of all a farmer. He and his wife Joan raise Senepol Cattle and Grass-Fed Senepol beef on their Oconee County farm. The Pages have been married for 44 years and have two adult children and two grandchildren.
Russ is a Cattle – Reproductive Physiologist (having a BS in Dairy Science, an MS in Reproductive Physiology, a PhD in Reproductive Physiology, and a Post Doc in Reproductive Endocrinology) and owns and operates a Cattle Embryo Transfer and Semen collection business, Reproductive Progress. As such, he works for other farmers every day. About 11 years ago, he became increasingly aware of the struggles that farmers have every day and the constant threats to the farmer’s way of life. As a result, he became interested in trying to help stop the jeopardy farmers are put in daily due to development and in trying to help protect farmers and their farming operations.
He is one of the founding members of the Oconee Partnership for Farmland Protection, which has been active for over 10 years. Russ and the partnership have been successful in establishing Farmland Protection as a line item in the Oconee County Budget. And using this as seed money, they have been able to attract private, state, and federal funds for Farmland Protection. Russ is also involved in other conservation efforts, such as the development of a river walk along the Apalachee River and the development of a park in the Elder Covered Bridge and Elder Mill Area, as well as an effort to help protect an historic site close to Athens on Old Barnett Shoals Road. He has worked with the Athens Land Trust on each of these projects.
Michael Reuter is an engineering manager with Merial Ltd. in Athens, Georgia. He first moved to Georgia in 1969 at the age of 11. Serving in the U.S. Air Force for almost 10 years, he lived in various other places including Germany, but eventually returned to Georgia, moving to Oconee County in 1988. He has been married to his high-school sweetheart, Megan Kahan Reuter, for 27 years, and they have six children, including one son and five daughters.
On their Oconee County land, Michael and his family raise goats and free-range chicken and enjoy stargazing from their backyard. Among his other interests are mechanics/technology, motorcycles, and involvement in community activities. Whether working with those less fortunate, writing letters, or just complaining to others about national or local politics, he says he has always felt it important to get involved to promote the changes you wish for. He and his wife were founding members of Citizens for South Oconee County, and he serves as Vice Chair for Community Outreach for this citizens’ advocacy group.
Michael states that he believes the best way to prevent anyone from pushing you around is to stay involved and be in tune with what is happening around you. He further believes things will not improve or change for the better by just watching from the sidelines and wishing they would.