By Marla Ogletree

The Charlton County Board of Commissioners held their first work shop session, Thursday, August 1. 

Before the meeting, the commissioners held public hearings for the Abandonment of an Alleyway for Sarah Sheffield. The cost was refigured to only $435. 

The board also received a Comprehensive Plan update for 2020, which must be done every five years, by law, and requires three public workshops and two public hearings. No action was needed. 

The county released a resolution draft in support of Twin Pines Minerals for their potential mining operations. The county cannot grant the permit, but does support the industry the business would bring to the area. The resolution states Twin Pines would bring approximately 300 high-paying jobs with benefits, will involve a $300 million capital investment in the south part of Charlton, as well as increase the tax revenue substantially – allowing the county to increase their level of service. The commissioners will discuss the resolution further at their next meeting.

Also during the worskshop, the board heard from Earl Lawson, who worked with Don Crews on the 2018 Audit Report. Dawson stated the county is in good financial shape and has an excellent debt equity ratio. He said the county staff and commissioners should be commended  for all their work. 

The county commissioners also heard from Chamber Director Ashley Gowen on the economic update. She stated the chamber’s main focus for economic growth will be on tourism. In 2017, visitors in the whole state of Georgia spent $35.4 billion, which generated $3.2 billion in revenue for state and local taxes. If tourism in Georgia was non-existent, the local tax per household would increase by $885 per year. The state has received 107 million national visitors and 1.4 million international. Developmentally-wise, the chamber is currently in the processed of creating a new website, a marketing plan, and a new logo. The chamber will focus on getting tourists to stay in the area instead of making daily visits. She stated the chamber is also working on the Miss Okefenokee Pageants, the Okefenokee Festival, a Fun Run/5K, and Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving to promote shopping local). 

Commissioner Alphya Benefield asked about the low work-ready numbers and what the community could do to increase the work-readiness. Gowen stated she would work on getting the information to her. Fire Chief C.L. Lewis spoke to the commissioners about the Georgia Forestry Memorandum of Understanding. This is an on-going lease which is renewed every three years for some of the older trucks the station still has in use, as well as current equipment. 

The board also discussed an update on the Personnel Policy, discussed adding the responsibility of hiring and firing of department heads to County Administrator Hampton Raulerson, and received a quote for a new lease of a motor grader. 

The commissioners will vote on these matters at their next meeting to be held Thursday, August 15 at 6:00 p.m.