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Political notebook: Elected officials come together to talk about Brain Train

The political train is on track for a proposed commuter rail in the region, after influential politicians and leaders met last week for a conversation about the Brain Train.

"Tonight is the beginning of a new way to get around Georgia, a way that we used to get around in Georgia and a return to a way for people to easily get to Athens all the way to Macon without using a lot of gas, without crashing and without worrying about how long it is going to take them to get there," said local man Emory Morsberger, chairman of Georgians for the Brain Train.

In all, more than 30 elected officials from the stops in the Athens to Atlanta to Macon corridor attended the event at the Atlanta Commerce Club, including Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who acted as a panelist, Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, and House Transportation Committee Chairman Vance Smith, R-Pine Mountain.

"There are bold steps being made (regarding) transportation, which include rail," Cagle said. "The new leadership at the department of transportation has initially provided great promise with a fresh outlook relative to the way we talk about our issues."

According to a press release, more than $121 million in state and federal funding is available for site acquisition and construction of the projects.

The Brain Train is a proposed commuter rail service from Athens to Atlanta, which would link major universities, including the University of Georgia, Georgia Gwinnett College, Georgia Tech and Emory University. Stops are planned in Lilburn, Lawrenceville, Dacula and Winder.

Governor launches conservation contest

While he has the adults across the state scrambling to drop water consumption by 10 percent, Gov. Sonny Perdue is turning to kids to find a solution.

Perdue recently announced the Governor's Water Conservation Contest, which is open to third-, fourth- and fifth-graders who want to design a plan that promotes water conservation.

"I believe that awareness of the water conservation effort has the potential to spread throughout Georgia's younger generations the way that the campaign for seat belt use did years ago," Perdue said. "Soon our kids will be teaching their parents and grandparents new methods for conserving water."

In the contests, students are asked to describe their proposed project in an essay and draft a budget of less than $2,000 to implement the project. Students can work on the essay and budget as a class, a grade or as a project by all participating grades. The principal of each school will choose one winner to submit to the governor for consideration.

The contest winner will receive a $2,000 prize to be used to carry out the conservation plan in the community. Home Depot is sponsoring the Governor's Water Conservation Contest.

Information will be sent to principals and superintendents throughout the state, according to a press release.

All entries must be received by the Governor's Office of Student Achievement by Dec. 6.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.