What local leaders say
“I don’t question these (metropolitan statistical area) statistics because they’re in fact true. We’re, in effect, in a good place. It shows we’re doing better than most.”
— Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas
“Congratulations on what I’m certain will be a bright, bright future.”
— State Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler
“This speaks to the ability of government to come together and do great things.”
— State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway
“This building is about future growth.”
— District 2 Councilman Jason Floyd
“It’s not just about the building; it’s about the people who work in the building.”
— District 5 Councilman
Army veteran and Hinesville resident Henry Ancheta brought his children, Athor, 10, Shirley, 9, and Angela, 7, to the grand-opening ceremony for Hinesville’s new city hall so they could witness local history in the making.
“This is historical,” Ancheta said. “This is a part of our lives. You don’t see that many city halls being inaugurated. This building is meant to last.”
Ancheta and his family came to Fort Stewart in 2004 and bought a home in Hinesville in 2006.
“I like it here,” he said. “Hinesville is an ideal place to raise a family.”
The former soldier was born in El Salvador and is a naturalized citizen. He said buying a home here was “the essence to settling down.” The only complaint he has about Hinesville is the traffic.
“We do have a traffic issue,” Ancheta said. In his opinion, it is due to Hinesville being wedged between metro Savannah and other Southeast Georgia communities like Richmond Hill, Ludowici and Jesup, rather than the number of soldiers on the road, he said.
“People come through here; they pack our highways,” Ancheta said.
“It’s a beautiful building,” Metter Mayor Billy Trapnell said. Trapnell, also president of the Georgia Municipal Association, said he was impressed that the construction of the city hall came in under budget and ahead of schedule.
“I’m envious,” he admitted with a smile.
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas said the $7 million SPLOST-funded project could have cost as much as $11 million-$12 million, but the city worked with its architect and builder to keep costs down. The city broke ground on the 48,000-square-foot building in June 2010 and moved staff into the building late last month. Choate Construction Company, headquartered in Pooler, built Hinesville’s new landmark and James W. Buckley & Associates Inc. designed it.
Thomas, during his grand-opening address, said the city is in “a good place” compared to other communities of similar size across the United States that struggle financially in a tough economy.
He said he believes recently released data that claims the Hinesville-Fort Stewart metropolitan statistical area had one of the top four fastest personal income growth rates in the country in 2010. A story in Friday’s edition of the Courier questioned the report put out by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.
In addition to city officials, state Sen. Buddy Carter and state Rep. Al Williams spoke to those assembled, some residents lining the walls around the city hall’s spacious council chamber.
“I congratulate the community on its foresight,” Carter said. “I am proud to be a part of this.”
Williams said the city is experiencing exciting times in spite of a slow economy.
“Our bump in the road is better than many of the best days of other towns around the country,” he said.
Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver joked he was glad Hinesville built a city hall “to complement our new justice center.”
McIver said the capitol improvements made in the county play an important role in bringing jobs here.
Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Milton agreed, saying the Hinesville City Hall and Liberty County Justice Center give a “good first impression” of the community and will help draw businesses to the area.
Hinesville Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier added that the city did not present a corporate image in the past, but now it does.