2007-01-18 / Front Page

Growth is focus of chairman's state of the county address

Commissioners Darrell Henderson (c) and Larry Collins (r) took the oath of office administered by Magistrate Judge Lee Moss prior to the regular meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners held Thursday, January 11. Commissioners Darrell Henderson (c) and Larry Collins (r) took the oath of office administered by Magistrate Judge Lee Moss prior to the regular meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners held Thursday, January 11. A report on the condition of the county was given by Lincoln County Commissioner Chairman Walker Norman at the regular meeting of the commission held Thursday, January 11.

At the outset of his address, Norman said, "Tonight, I am here to report that during 2006, Lincoln County crossed the threshold in a big way. Growth - with all the challenges and opportunities that accompany it - has arrived.

"No less than 14 major subdivisions are in either the planning or development stages as we speak, 12 of which are on the shores of Clark's Hill Lake. Approximately 3,000 acres of rural farm and timber land will be converted into more than 1,300 single-family lots.

"Are we as a county prepared to enjoy the many benefits of this growth while minimizing the growing pains we have witnessed elsewhere over the past 25 years?"

Norman stated that growth brings change. He then proceeded to discuss some of the changes local residents might expect to take place in 2007 and beyond.

"Without a doubt, there will be positive economic benefits. In 2005, the middle-to-upper-end single-family homes built in Lincoln County cost an average of $196,000. Multiply that by the 1,300 home sites contained in the new subdivisions under development and the result is an economic boost of more than $255 million dollars over an estimated 25-year build out."

According to the chairman, building, finishing, landscaping, furnishing, and financing these homes will keep people working in Lincoln County for years to come. Service industries will also have to keep pace with the growth, which means additional employment opportunities.

"If managed properly, growth is good," said Chairman Norman. "We are fortunate to have a strong Department of Planning and Zoning which has subdivision and land-use codes in place. These codes help develop orderly and compatible land use."

Moving on to the issue of taxes, the chairman stated that higher taxes will not be one of the by-products of growth.

"Consider this: the owners of six parcels of land being used for the development of new subdivisions paid approximately $200,000 in taxes this year. When the land is subdivided into 1,017 residential lots, the owners will pay approximately $1.6 million dollars - before houses are ever built.

"The increase in taxes paid for that acreage should result in lower millage rates. We have already lowered the rate this year by .6 mills," he noted.

In related comments, Chairman Norman said he will ask the commissioners to consider introducing some type of homestead freeze or higher exemptions for those who do not have the financial means to keep up with higher property values resulting from the sale of surrounding property.

In other remarks on growth, Norman stated that the addition of four new industries, including international corporations from China and England, has already created approximately 30 new jobs. "Instead of outsourcing jobs like so many communities, in Lincoln County we are 'insourcing' jobs."

According to the chairman, among the county's other accomplishments for 2006 are:

.. The extension of water lines on Highway 220, Lewis Crook Road, and Highway 79 to Providence Ferry.

.. The establishment of a sistercommunity relationship with Jaixing, China.

.. The approval of a franchise agreement with Wilkes Telephone & Electric Company for the installation of cable service throughout the county.

.. The purchase of a CAD system for the 911 center and the acquisition of a new building to house the Department of Public Safety.

.. The resurfacing of C.E. Norman Road, Prater Road, and Highway 79.

.. The implementation of countywide, curbside pickup of household garbage.

.. The conversion of the transfer station into a full-service convenience center, complete with recycling facilities.

.. Expansion of the county's website and events covered by LC TV.

Looking toward the future, Chairman Norman stated, "In 1985, there were two deed books used to record deeds in the clerk of court's office. In 2006, 22 deed books were needed. County facilities such as the courthouse and adjacent office buildings are rapidly running out of space. However, with the purchase of a private residence across the street from the courthouse last month, I believe we have several years before any new buildings or additions will be needed. Nevertheless, planning for the future is essential - it is time for us to hire a professional firm to advise us as to what type of space Lincoln County Government will need in the ensuing years."

The chairman noted that the increase in population throughout the county will also create a need for ad- and military personnel concerning topics such as pre-game nutrition and training in the heat. The participants likewise heard a variety of guest speakers including the Secretary of the Army and Dick Vermeil, former head coach of the St. Louis Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles.

"It was an honor to represent Lincoln County in San Antonio," stated Coach Campbell. "It was very uplifting and inspirational from the standpoint of helping us appreciate our military and what they're doing overseas. Just about everywhere we went, we were in the presence of a Purple Heart recipient. It was a great experience - it renewed my faith in our armed forces."

The coach went on to say that one of his favorite activities involved swapping stories with John McKissick of Summerville, South Carolina. With over 500 wins under his belt, the 80- year-old coach, who is still active, is the winningest high school football coach in the nation.

At age 58, Coach Campbell is in third place behind McKissick among the ranks of active coaches.

In further business, Magistrate Judge Lee Moss administered the oath of office to Dr. Robert Williams, board chairman; Becky Reed; Wayne Williford; and Gail Remsen. All of the board members are incumbents except for Remsen, who was elected to her first term in office in November.

Also during the meeting, the board:

.. Was informed by Dr. Edmunds that LCHS posted a 97-percent pass rate for first-time test takers on the Georgia High School Graduation Writing Test, compared to a 94-percent pass rate statewide and a 93-percent pass rate for schools in the CSRA.

.. Agreed to hold the group's annual planning session on Wednesday, January 24, at 9 a.m. at the board of education office.

.. Reviewed financial reports for the SPLOST Fund through December 31, 2006, and the General Fund for the period from July 1, 2006, through December 31, 2006.

Commenting on SPLOST collections, Superintendent Edmunds said, "For the first time in 20 months, revenues have decreased (about $3,000) when compared to the same period last year. I don't think it's sales but rather collections and payment."

.. Voted to set the 2007 board meetings on the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. with the exception of April, July, and January of 2008. The meetings in April and January will be held on the second Tuesday of the month, with the July meeting scheduled for the third Tuesday.

.. Voted to approve a request for use of the LCHS Auditorium for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Observance on Sunday, January 14.

.. Voted to approve a request made by Kathie Davis, director of the Lincoln County Recreation Department, for use of the LCES School Gymnasium through March 17 for recreation basketball.

.. Heard a report read by Superintendent Edmunds indicating that plans for the multi-purpose/cheer building have been submitted to the State Department of Education for approval. The request for local approval will be placed on the board's agenda at a later date.

.. Voted to approve a request made by the LCHS Musical Theatre Class to sponsor a fund-raising project.

.. Voted to approve a request that selected members of the LCHS Band be allowed to take part in the UGA Honor Band Clinic and Concert January 18-21 in Athens.

.. Was informed by Dr. Edmunds that Awards Night, held in conjunction with the LCES Science and Engineering Fair, is scheduled for Thursday, February 1, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the school gymnasium.

.. Was informed by the superintendent that on December 11, a drug dog searched LCMS/LCHS and the alternative school with negative results. The search was coordinated through the Lincolnton Police Department.

.. Voted to enter into executive session to deliberate upon the employment and compensation of personnel. Upon returning to regular session, the board:

.. Voted to approve Denise Freeman to serve as a substitute teacher.

.. Voted to approve a three-year contract for Dr. Edmunds to continue to serve as superintendent.

The next regular meeting of the board will be held Tuesday, February 6, at 7 p.m. at the board office on Metasville Road.

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