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Area leaders at planning retreat on St. Simons
John McIver2
County Commission Chairman John McIver - photo by Courier file photo
Besides a suitcase, nearly 100 elected and non-elected leaders will be carrying citizens’ concerns to St. Simons Island today for the annual countywide planning workshop this week.
“Overall it affects the county as a whole,” commission Chairman John McIver said.
“[The goal is] to come together and develop a consensus for a plan of action for short term and long range goals and those issues critical to the county and move in a direction to try to implement.”
Participants include representatives from municipalities, various boards and local public institutions, such as the hospital, Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia State Patrol.
Denise Grabowski, with Lott Barber in Savannah, will return as one of the workshop’s five facilitators.
“It’s a great opportunity to have all the decisionmakers together at one time, which is really pretty rare,” Grabowski said. “Not many local governments do what Liberty County [does].”
Specific discussion topics are not fleshed out. The meat of the workshop will be Thursday.
Officials will plot their own course and collaboratively vote on agenda issues today, then spend Thursday in discussion.
“My role is mainly to facilitate the discussion and…frame the discussion with a dialogue and keep things moving forward,” Grabowski said.
Highlighting transportation, road improvement and fire protection as likely topics, McIver is certain water and sewer are also on tap.
Georgia’s Environment Protection Division is tightening the faucet and putting stricter restrictions on how much water counties can withdraw. So McIver wants to see strides in conservation, smart disposal and water reuse.
“We want to look at this because we’re going to have to come up with ways for determining in the county what entity is going to provide what services to a given area within the county,” McIver said, adding how Liberty has three representatives on the regional water council.
“We’re going to have to come up with service delivery areas.”
Friday will close with reports and defining priorities.
What goes on during the three days will set the pace for the upcoming year.
Last year’s retreat spawned the Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership, according to McIver, and gave the group a running start in applying for grants.
Planning also helps keep critical issue items “on the radar,” even if officials decide not to take action.
“If you can get the consensus there, you’ll be able to reach that consensus — you got something to work toward,” McIver said.
“At least you got government officials there sitting down together, talking about what they see as the pressing need for the county to address.”
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