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Growth planners expecting funding
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The Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership discussed the positive signals it has received from Washington at its meeting Tuesday. Budget approval is hoped for within two weeks.
The Army has decided to add a fifth brigade to the 3rd Infantry Division and to station it on Fort Stewart. That will bring about 4,000 new soldiers, along with their dependents, to the area starting in about two years.
Sonny Timmerman, ad hoc temporary director of the partnership, said, “I feel 99 percent confident that we will have an OK from the technical review committee within two weeks.”
The group has submitted a $700,000 proposed budget to hire a director and work on planning for local governments to cope with the influx of soldiers, and families and the boom that they bring with them.  A 10 percent match is required from the local governments, but a “soft” match including in-kind services is permitted.
The members of the four-county group are exchanging emails to tweak the wording of the scope-of-work document which sets out the mission of the FSGMP. Timmerman developed the draft for discussion.
Members said they were concerned they would have final paperwork ready for signature during the time the partnership’s chairman, Liberty Commission Chairman John McIver, will be on a 10-day trip to China.   McIver is the only Liberty County representative in delegation making the trip. The other four are Hinesville’s mayor and city manager, Jim Thomas and Billy Edwards, Liberty County Development Authority CEO Ron Tolley and the LCDA’s Emily Tsang.
Richmond Hill City Manager Mike Melton represents Bryan County and is vice chairman of the partnership. Faye Hussey of Tattnall County is secretary and Mike Riddle of Long County is treasurer.
The budget includes $100,000 for salary of a partnership director for 14 months and $35,000 for a staff assistant. An estimated $375,000 is budgeted for one or more consultants, as required.
Plans are also being considered for advisory committees, which would include school superintendents, hospital administrators and representatives of state agencies such as the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Division and others.
Liberty, Long, Bryan and Tattnall counties form the partnership with the 12 municipalities in the four counties.
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