Columbia County leaders share accomplishments, challenges, goals

Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 10:17 PM
Last updated 11:37 PM
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Columbia County is growing and thriving, speakers said Tuesday at the chamber of commerce’s annual State of the Community Address.

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Grovetown Mayor George James told the gathering that the approval of a 1-cent sales tax to fund regional transportation projects was "very fortunate" for his city.  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
Grovetown Mayor George James told the gathering that the approval of a 1-cent sales tax to fund regional transportation projects was "very fortunate" for his city.

“Everything overall in Columbia County is good,” county commission Chairman Ron Cross said. “We are a great county because we have a lot of great people.”

County officials, along with those from Grovetown, Harlem, the school system and Fort Gordon, were part of the event at Liberty Park Community Center.

Grovetown Mayor George James celebrated the passing of the Transportation In­vestment Act, whose 1-cent sales tax will fund more than $126 million worth of projects in the county over 10 years, including the extension of River Watch Parkway. The tax will also provide $11 million to improve Robinson Avenue and Wrightsboro Road, Grovetown’s main thoroughfares.

Though the 1-cent sales tax passed in the 13-county region that includes Columbia County, county voters rejected it.

“The TSPLOST passed, and we’re very fortunate for that,” James said.

Growth brings challenges, some noted.

Columbia County Superintendent Charles Nagle said that over the past five years, the school system has opened four schools and accommodated 2,600 new pupils with 10 fewer teachers and a decreasing budget.

“We’re a very lean machine,” Nagle said, noting that test scores and the system rank among the best in the state. “We’re giving the best bang for the buck in Columbia County.”

Fort Gordon garrison commander Col. Robert Barker assured the crowd that the military installation is flourishing.

Without giving specifics, Barker said he expects the $2.2 billion economic impact of the base, the area’s largest employer, to continue.

“What happens behind those gates is often a mystery,” he said. “Fort Gordon is a strategic asset for the nation.”

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prov227 09/19/12 - 10:23 am
Wow ...

It may become unpopular NOT to celebrate a tax increase! I wonder if the solons ran on a message of "no new taxes" to gain their offices? Or simply, "vote for me for progress".

dichotomy 09/19/12 - 11:16 am
So Mayor James is happy about

So Mayor James is happy about the TSPLOST tax. Even though his constituents voted against it. Go figure.

Yes mayor, you can do wonderful things if you take more money from families......but that is less that families can do for themselves. If you took ALL of their money I am sure we would have big, wide, fine roads. Just like the ones that run down to the palace in Pyongyang. Ain't no cars on them but what the heck, nice roads. The people are starving since the government keeps all of the money and puts the citizens on rationed food.....but the politicians live pretty good. Hmm, sounds about like where we are headed.

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