VALDOSTA -- U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, stopped in Valdosta Friday morning to dine at Covington's Dining and Catering with around 20 of his staff members from the Valdosta, Albany, Columbus and Washington, D.C. offices.

Bishop presented a scholarship check for $600 to Valdosta State University graduate Desdamona Butler to help with upcoming graduate studies at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Butler, who holds a bachelor's degree in sociology and anthropology wants to pursue a master's degree in conflict analysis and resolution. She studied interpretative languages during undergraduate pursuits and helps local students with sign language.

The check came from the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses' organization, a component of the Caucus' Foundation, a non-partisan group dedicated to assisting today's youth and preparing future leaders.

The organization began the scholarship program in 1988, in response to federal spending cuts for education programs and scholarships. Since its inception, the fund distributed more than $7 million in education and health scholarships.

The national program gives scholarships to talented students who intend to pursue full-time undergraduate, graduate or doctoral degrees.

Lowndes County Commissioner G. Robert Carter, District 3, and City Councilman Willie T. Head Jr., District 2, spoke to Bishop and his staff about Valdosta's growing future and the need for congressional backing to ensure monetary support.

"We certainly appreciate you in Lowndes County," Carter said. "Leadership keeps our community ahead of the growth curve."

Carter shared projections from the Lowndes County Unified Development Land Code, a 20-year plan for county growth set to be finished in late September.

Head thanked Bishop's office for dedication to Valdosta's needs.

"You're in the trenches doing the things that bring dollars our way," Head said.

Valdosta's industrial recruitment increases, and Head said "the economic train is rolling around again."

Bishop introduced his staff and emphasized Valdosta remains an important area in his district.

The group spent four days receiving hands-on training in Bishop's district, getting to know local politicians and issues.

"There are a lot of well-kept secrets in the Second Congressional district," Bishop said.

To contact Kenna Walsh call (229) 244-3400 ext. 237

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