County Commission Hears Updates

At last week’s meeting of the County Commission, heads of various departments gave the commissioners updates on the work they have been involved in.
After a moment of silence to remember those who died on the 17th anniversary of the Twin Towers terrorist attack, Joint Development Authority Executive Director Andrea Taylor kicked off the presentations.
She said their were a couple of existing industries interested in expand their operations to the Douglas Highway land owned by the county near the technical college. She added that she is working on getting businesses into the old Harvey’s building and the old Fred’s building.
Taylor touched on the cooperative work with surrounding counties, saying the Southeast Georgia Regional Development Authority, consisting of Jeff Davis, Appling and Bacon counties, was meeting regularly, and there is a prospect interested in the Hazlehurst, Lumber City, Telfair County Joint Development Authority.
The local Authority and Chamber of Commerce held a meeting at Twisted Pine Golf Course with the Hazlehurst Downtown Development Authority and interested citizens to discuss ideas about improving the downtown area.
Additionally, a human resources meeting was held recently with about 30 people attending.
Taylor invited anyone who is interested to attend an Oct. 24 Rural Prosperity Conference in Tifton.
Responding to a question from Commissioner Ricky Crosby, Taylor said she was meeting with a prospect the next day who was interested in opening a Captain D’s restaurant. [At the downtown development meeting, City Code Enforcement Officer Charles Harrell told the people gathered that Little Caesar’s pizza had plans to move into the old Huddle House on Tallahassee Street.]
Roads Department Superintendent Robert Lewis updated the commissioners on his department’s work over the past 30 days. He said there was a new landfill consultant who had looked at the county landfill and pointed out some things that needed to be done. Employees had been working with the Recreation Department, hauling dirt to the new soccer fields on the Baxley Highway, and had also been doing work on the Broxton Highway.
Most of the road department work consisted of routine duties such as cleaning ditches, hauling dirt, cutting grass, spraying around stop signs, etc.
Recreation Director Bruce Johns said work was finishing up on the Baxley Highway soccer fields and he expected the sod to be laid, the lights up and fencing completed soon. Work has to be done in the concession area and the Road Department was helping by tearing down the old band stands.
Johns added bleachers would be moved from the Recreation Department to the Baxley Highway site and there will be a new scoreboard installed. The irrigation system was already installed on the recently completed soccer field and was to be operating by the end of the week.
Jeff Davis Hospital CFO Barry Broom gave handouts to the commissioners which included a graph of where the hospital has been and where its heading. After losing money in 2014 and 2015, the hospital realized profits in 2016 and 2017, and is on target for $1.4 million in profits this year.
The majority of the turnaround, Bloom said, was in cost management and now efforts are going toward growth.
The ribbon cutting for the 10-bed behavioral health center, which Bloom said was “a Godsend for the area,” is set for Sept. 24. The hospital’s wound care facility is expected to be completed by the end of October. Bloom said the facility would mainly treat diabetic wounds with a doctor present and state of the art methodology.
Bloom reminded the commissioners about the Rural Hospital Tax Credit Program, pointing out that people could make donations to the hospital and receive a state tax deduction up to a cap of $5,000.
“Every dollar you donate you get back as a tax credit,” Bloom said, “and you also get a benefit on federal taxes as well.”
The hospital is also addressing issues with the roof and the boiler had to be replaced at a cost of $60,000
In other action, the commissioners ….
…. approved a road closure on West Tennessee Avenue in Denton.
…. approved a resolution to update and authorize 911 charges.
…. did not approve a beer and wine license for K&M Patel Enterprises as there were problems with the fact that a park is located across the road from the store. The commissioners briefly discussed the county’s beer and wine license ordinance, adopted in 1981, and agreed it needed to be revised.

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