Oed Calls On Churchill

The Scene/County currents and undercurrents

September 25, 1991|By Erik Nelson

It was the OED's finest hour.

No, not the Oxford English Dictionary's finest hour, but the Office of Economic Development's finest hour.

Thanks to an actor named Donald Williams of Alexandria, Va., the office was able to break up what would have been a stiflingly dull discussion of the new economic development plan with interruptions from"Sir Winston Churchill."

The impetus for the show was that Churchill (the real one) was quoted in the 20-year plan announced last weekby Dyan Brasington, the county's economic development administrator.

The quote, and the performance, were intended to drive home the importance of the plan's recommendation to educate ordinary folks on the importance of economic development: "Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot . . . Others as a cow to be milked. But few are those who see it as it is . . . the sturdy horse pulling the wagon.

Williams, whose stage name is Don Neal, barged into lastweek's news conference and recited that quote and also "punctuated" Brasington's dry description of the plan with Churchillian comments that provoked a few chuckles from the audience of county officials andbusiness leaders.

While the performance cost about $500 out of the Office of Economic Development's already thin budget, "it met one of our objectives, and that was to try to communicate well the importance of economic development," Brasington said.

"We had that major line that we wanted to deliver, which was truly a Churchill quote, and we wanted to do it in a dramatic fashion," said Ken Mays, the county's public information administrator, who hired Williams. Besides, hesaid, it added humor to an otherwise dry briefing. If it helped makethe subject more interesting, he added, he might consider doing something similar for other major announcements.

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