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A Brief History of SAMSOG
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By Mr. Carl Hammarstrom, RLS 1270


It all began in early 1947, when the Georgia Institute of Technology sponsored the Georgia civil engineers' seminar. At that time the civil engineers invited the surveyors to the seminar as their guests. Just how many surveyors attended that first meeting is not known.

However, on March 22, 1947, an informal meeting was called by C. E. Layton for surveyors to gather at Georgia Tech to discuss forming a state surveyors' organization. June 14, 1947, was selected as the date for a formal conference. Thirty-three surveyors joined together and formally organized the Georgia Association of Registered Land Surveyors (GARLS).
C. E. Layton of Thomasville and Grover V. Carr of Columbus were elected president and secretary, respectively.

The first major action taken by GARLS was to become affiliated with the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM). Although ACSM had been organized in 1941, some six years later GARLS was the first affiliated state organization. Georgia has maintained close ties with ACSM ever since.

In July 1948, at the first annual state surveyors' meeting, Grover V. Carr of Columbus was elected president and J. B. Lovel of Ringgold was elected secretary. R. B. Black of Atlanta was elected as the national representative to ACSM. In the short time of a little over a year, our numbers increased to 130 members. In 1949, the Surveying and Mapping Society of Georgia was officially incorporated and registered with the Secretary of State.

Seventeen years after its first meeting, effective July 1, 1964, our name was changed to GARPLS, Georgia Association of Registered Professional Land Surveyors, the name that had just missed being adopted in 1947. By July 17, 1968, we had 162 members from Georgia and five other states.

With encouragement and support of ACSM and as a result of the growing activity at the national level, GARPLS, in recognition of the profession's involvement in mapping as well as surveying, decided to change the name of the organization to reflect surveying's viable and vital role in the mapping area. So on December 5, 1970, we voted to adopt our current name, the Surveying and Mapping Society of Georgia (SAMSOG). The name change was approved September 1, 1971. It became effective July 1, 1972, and it was the registered with the Georgia Secretary of State.

SAMSOG's history shows steady growth and involvement in many activities of benefit to both the public and the surveying profession. Beginning in 1947 with thirty-three members, we now are almost five hundred members strong, about half of all the registered land surveyors in Georgia. In 1948, our budget was $ 651, while today it is over $ 100,000.

Ben J. Fortson, Jr., Georgia's Secretary of State for many years, was a strong supporter of surveyors. When he died in 1979, SAMSOG, in his memory, established The Ben J. Fortson Jr. Scholarship Fund with $ 5,100. Today that fund is $ 83,617.20, with a goal of $ 100,000. We are proud to have been able to provide scholarships to fourteen over the past seventeen years.

SAMSOG has consistently sought to strengthen and refine the surveying profession through the Georgia State Legislature, the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, other professional groups such as the American Land Title Association, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, and through academic input at various schools. A Surveyors Reference Manual for Georgia Land Surveyors, originally compiled some twenty years ago, is currently being updated to serve as a professional bible.

Though some effort was made all along to enact laws to further the profession and protect the public, it was in 1961 that GARLS made its first appearance at a meeting of the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. In those days civil engineers could be registered as surveyors, and at that time there were no practicing surveyors on the Board.

When Board members questioned why surveyors were there, the surveyors present expressed an interest in learning how the Board handled the surveying profession in general, specifically how public complaints against surveyors were resolved, and what code of conduct was used by the Board to evaluate those complaints. It was further suggested that surveyors should be represented on the licensing board.

The Board was receptive. On January 13, 1977, Tom Wilson was appointed to the board by Governor George Busbee. When he was sworn in on February 15, 1977, the governor told Tom that he was the first "bread and butter" surveyor on the Board. Since then, there has been at least one and sometimes two surveyor members serving on the Board.

The Board, additionally, charged surveyors with the responsibility of drafting a professional code of conduct, which was done. Later, when the one-day exam given to surveyors was expanded to two days, we were instrumental in creating that second day examination.

SAMSOG has pursued many bills in Georgia’s legislature on a wide variety of subjects. For more that thirty years we have had as our SAMSOG representative in the General Assembly Ski Bashinski. Ski has done a great job with the members of the legislature. A few of the many bills passed of interest to SAMSOG include recording plats in superior courts, monument protection, improvement in the couty surveyor’s law, improvement in the lien law, and improvement in the registered surveyor law.

There have been from one to several bills in support of surveying introduced each year in the Georgia General Assembly. Many of our members, with Ski’s guidance, have appeared before various committees to present our position and its impact on the public.

In 1996 the General Assembly passed a bill requiring fifteen hours of continuing education study over a two-year period to qualify for a land surveyor’s license renewal. This became effective January 1, 1997. As a result of this law the attendance at the January 1997 seminar at Southern Tech more than doubled over the 1996 seminar attendance.

SAMSOG’s educational participation and contributions have been many. For the past fifty years SAMSOG has been a part of the numerous technical seminars held by Georgia Tech and Southern Tech. SAMSOG has helped develop, in conjunction with the Georgia State Board of Education, a two-year survey course in the state’s technical schools; a sixty-hour course called "Survey Review"; along with the Cobb County Board of Education, a "Fundamentals of Surveying" at Lockheed for two years because of a reduction in their personnel; and improvements to course work at Brunswick Junior College and the Atlanta Area Technical School. Several seminars on writing property descriptions have been given, and there has been active interest and attendance at meetings held by Realtors, lawyers, mortgage institutions, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia Archives.

About twenty years ago SAMSOG developed a surveyor’s handbook. The six chapters were: State Statutes and Regulation, SAMSOG and ACSM Regulations, Standards, Legal Aspects of Surveying, Field and Office Guidelines, and Miscellaneous. Since then there have been many law changes, tremendous changes and improvements in field and office equipment, in technical developments such as GIS, GPS, and HARN, and aerial photo improvements. SAMSOG was an active element in the High Accuracy Reference Network (HARN) in Georgia.

Since joining ACSM in 1947, SAMSOG, later on, with ACSM and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, helped to develop a basic technical examination for land surveyors. Each state, however, has a test covering its own laws. Also through ACSM, SAMSOG has continued to revise the ALTA-ACSM land title surveys. Through the years there has been a national representative who has been active in the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), a major unit of ACSM. Currently, we have an outstanding representative, Greg Johnson.

SAMSOG is to be commended for its past history; May it continue to prove just as professional in the future.



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