July 7, 2020

PPA: Chairman Boone’s response (Part 7)

Chairman Boone’s continued response:

There has been a lot of progress made in the last 7+ years, and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the most significant in this article.

The construction of a new Courthouse had been a topic of discussion for many years prior to me taking office in 2013, however it just never seemed to reach the planning stages.

The problems with the Courthouse were apparent and there was recurring issues every month that had to be addressed.

The spring and fall term of Grand Juries always indicated in their report regarding the deteriorating conditions that were present and called for the Board of Commissioners to address this issue with new construction and/or a major renovation.

SPLOST IV proceeds began in April 2013, and I stressed to the Board the critical need to begin the planning phase for the Courthouse and to separate the County Administration from the Courts.

The Board unanimously agreed and the planning phase began shortly thereafter. The Board also agreed not to start either project unless the funds were available in the SPLOST IV account. The final result produced a beautiful new Administration Building, and a completely renovated Courthouse with aesthetic compliments to the roof and front entrance.

Both projects are a proud addition to our community and were paid for upon completion.

The challenge to attract businesses to our community is not an easy one due to our population and traffic counts. The revenue shortfall we are experiencing from the lack of coal  purchase by the power plant, has significantly impacted our sales tax proceeds.

The local cities and school board have experienced the consequences of these shortfalls as we have.

Therefore, the Development Authority and the County have combined their efforts and shifted our focus to target the dollars from tourism and event attractions, which the Development Authority has played the leading role.

The Arena was limited in being able to host certain events, due to the lack of stalls to lodge animals overnight and hook ups for trailers with sleeping quarters.

The Development Authority recognized the potential from adding these amenities, and committed $165k dollars to construct a new barn with 52 stalls, 32 sites with power and water hook ups, bull pens and entrance covers.

Since the additions, the Arena stays booked every weekend with big events such as the Georgia High School Rodeo Association. It is difficult to calculate the exact amount of dollars that are spent here from these events, but you know they are there.

The Development Authority also secured two separate grants from the Department of Natural Resources for the Bush Head Shoals Park and Riverside Park in the amount of $350k dollars.

These projects target recreation and kayak trips down the river, which were delayed due to the virus but are now currently underway.

The Heard County Parks and Recreation recently received and award for agency of the year, thanks to Director Kathy Scott.

The recreation department is now hosting weekend tournaments that bring in out of town players and spectators that spend money locally, and the Booster Club revenues has increased substantially. This increased revenue funded the addition of batting cages, new equipment and many other amenities for the department.

More importantly, these added events have made the Heard County Booster Club the “Largest” employer for teenage students in the county.

Every year approximately 50 students have an opportunity to work at these events to gain experience and to earn their own spending money. Also, many that worked while they were in school, go off to college and come back home to work at the Rec during the summer break.

This is a great program that benefits our local kids, has grown since I became Chairman and has my full support.

I ask for your support in my bid for re-election to continue the forward progress I am striving to achieve. I have a vision to enhance our quality of life, and always searching for the best possible ways within our financial means to “Keep Heard County Great.”

(To be continued)

Lee Boone, Chairman

Heard County Board of Commissioners


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