Fewer than half the members of the Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership attended a meeting Tuesday at the Liberty County Courthouse Annex. Those who showed discussed goals and objectives for 2014 and whether the organization should attempt to revitalize itself or fold. Attendees agreed the partnership should try to team up with the Southeast Georgia Friends of Fort Stewart and Hunter, but could not vote on the matter without a quorum. There also were not enough voting members to elect new officers.
According FSGMP Director Jeff Ricketson, the 16-member board was formed to manage growth at Fort Stewart. However, it has not had a quorum of voting members attending recent meetings. He said not more than six to eight voting members have attended meetings during the past year.
According to its bylaws, the FSGMP is supposed to include the chairmen of the Liberty, Long, Bryan and Tattnall county commissions, the mayors of 11 municipalities connected to Fort Stewart and a member of the Georgia Military Affairs Committee. Non-voting members include the Stewart-Hunter garrison commander, the Chatham County Commission chairman and the mayor of Savannah.
“This organization is celebrating its fifth birthday this year,” said Ricketson, who noted the organization has conducted several studies that have benefited the entire community. “We completed a study of the Flemington Loop, for example. The (Strategic Health Plan and Needs Assessment Study) led to the (Coastal) Healthcare Alliance (in 2012). This organization throughout its history has been in a gear-up mode, preparing for a possible (base realignment and closure) in 2015 or 2017. At this point, we’re at an interim.”
Acting Chairman and Glennville Mayor Chris Roessler agreed and suggested the group might get more support from its members and be more productive if they could work together with Southeast Georgia Friends of Fort Stewart and Hunter. Pembroke Mayor Mary Warnell agreed, noting that she never has attended any meetings with the “Friends” group, but did go with them and other local mayors to Washington, D.C.
“We need to wrap our arms around Fort Stewart like a newborn baby so we can keep it and protect it,” Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette said. “We need to do it.”
Ricketson said he’d like to have the suggestion on record before contacting Paul Andreshak, president of Southeast Georgia Friends of Fort Stewart and Hunter. A motion was made and seconded, but Midway Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington pointed out they didn’t have a quorum and, therefore, could not vote on it. Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards, who had a proxy vote from Mayor Jim Thomas, said they didn’t have enough members to even agree to adjourn.
Ricketson said he first would talk with Andreshak about working with his organization, and then, at the next meeting, they could decide whether to vote for new officers or retire their organization.