Transportation sales tax pitched at Columbia County chamber event

A Columbia County Chamber of Commerce event held Thursday in Grovetown primarily served as a back-patting session for government officials and business executives.

But much of the discussion was devoted to future endeavors.

County Commission Chairman Ron Cross noted that he and other officials are working on a list a transportation projects to take to voters in the July primary or November 2012 general election as part of a 1-percent sales tax referendum.

“I can’t stress how much this is needed for the county and cities. … If we don’t do it, I don’t know the alternative,” said Cross, who chaired a regional delegation to develop projects for the transportation sales tax.

One such project is improving some roads in Grovetown, which Mayor George James told the about 200 people at the State of the Community Address is vital to prepare for the city’s growth.

“We’ve got to pass TSPLOST if we’re going to make real improvements in our city and county,” James said.

In the past four years, he said, 833 homes have been built in Grovetown, and about 200 more are in the planning stages.

Improved roads will help manage the growth and make possible planned improvements to the city’s downtown area, the mayor said.

The city recently hired a special events coordinator to help promote and organize events in the city, especially once planned upgrades are made to Goodale Park and Liberty Park.

Harlem Mayor Bobby Culpepper said his city is planning improvements to its downtown area.

Two fire stations are under construction, and city officials hope soon to build a “railroad depot” to act as a park and event venue.

Cross noted that the county is nearly finished with its Evans Town Center Park featuring the Lady Antebellum Pavilion.

The county has set up an Oct. 28 concert at the park featuring five-time Grammy-winning country group Lady Antebellum, but Cross announced Thursday night that another concert will be held Oct. 22 that will include a dedication ceremony.

Another initiative that should conclude next year is the installation of about 200 miles of fiber optic cables for a countywide broadband network.

Cross said major media groups have approached the county about leasing space to use the network to provide cable television and Internet services.

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