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Growth partnership lacks traction

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POSTED: August 26, 2013 12:00 p.m.
Photo by Pat Watkins/

Empty chairs surround the people who attended last week's Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield Growth Management Partnership.

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Chris Roessler still is the acting chairman of the Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield Growth Management Partnership.
There was supposed to be an election Tuesday, but there was not a quorum of partnership members present, so no business could be conducted. It has been a common occurrence.
“We’ve tried for the last four or five months,” said Roessler, who is Glennville mayor. “We’ve not had a quorum for the last year, year and a half.”
The partnership, which represents Bryan, Liberty, Long and Tattnall counties, and the municipalities in them, was organized in 2008 in anticipation of a fifth brigade being added to the 3rd Infantry Division and being stationed at Fort Stewart. The new brigade would have brought upward of 10,000 people, soldiers, support personnel and their families to the area, and the partnership was to plan for that growth. Nearly $700,000 in grants from the Defense Department’s Office of Economic Adjustment funded a director, staff, offices and consultants.
Jeff Ricketson was hired as the director.
But in June 2009, the Pentagon announced it was not expanding the Army as much as anticipated and that the 3rd ID would not get the new brigade. At that time, the partnership transitioned from growth planning to soliciting reparations for public institutions that had spent money preparing for the expected growth. The staff also monitored the spending of the reparations.
Ricketson left the area when the OEA grants ran out, but returned in June when he was hired as executive director of the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission. In that position, he helped organize what was to be Tuesday’s meeting.
He said there are 17 members of the board and that nine make up a quorum. Besides Roessler, only Tom Ratcliffe, who is on the Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee, Mayors Dr. Clemontine Washington of Midway and Jim Thomas of Hinesville, and Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette attended Tuesday.
Roessler was the only member from outside Liberty County who attended. And he might have been re-elected chairman because he values the organization.
“It’s obvious to me with a facility this size so close,” the Glennville mayor said. “I see Fort Stewart as such a tremendous asset to the area.

 

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