Long County Commission Chairman Bobby Walker spoke to members of the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday at its March meeting.
Walker told the members that two of the most important issues facing Long County citizens were the passage of the 1-percent TSPLOST (Transportation Special Purpose Local Sales Tax) state referendum and the fight against the proposed Townsend Bombing Range expansion.
“The transportation 1-cent sales tax will help our county a lot,” Walker said. “If it does pass, it will generate $18.2 million that will come directly to Long County.”
Walker said that in addition to the money earmarked for Long County, there also would be another $54 million allotted for the widening of Highway 57, revamping the routing system to create a more suitable system for school bus travel and the establishment of a regional bus system in the county.
Commissioner Wallace Shaw, who also was at the meeting, said that these three projects already have been approved and prioritized for completion in the county, but completion was contingent on the passage of TSPLOST.
Walker said if TSPLOST does not pass, not only would the county lose the money, but it also would have to increase what it pays for proposed projects.
“Right now, when work is done in the county on a road project, we have to match 10 percent towards it, but if TSPLOST fails, we’ve been told that this amount will increase to 30 percent,” Walker said.
Regarding the Townsend Bombing Range expansion project, Walker said that if proposal goes through, the county would lose $400,000 annually from its budget.
“We’ve already had enough land taken away from the county and lost enough revenue as it is,” Walker said. “We all need to contact Tommie Williams and Roger Lane and Jack Kingston and anyone that we can and tell them that we can’t afford to lose any more money.”
Walker was questioned about whether the county could be paid for the lost revenue. He said that a possible lump-sum payment of $6.8 million had been estimated, but that at this point nothing had been guaranteed.
Though Walker stressed the importance of people knowing about these two issues, he also spoke of positives going on in Long County.
“The last census said that we had a little over 14,000 people. We all know that figure isn’t right, and that we really have somewhere around 17,000, but even using the census figures, we were one of the largest-growing counties in the state per capita,” Walker said.
He also told the chamber that in addition to the recent Family Dollar coming to Ludowici, a dry cleaning business and a food chain are looking to open soon in the city. Walker also told the group that the commissioners, the mayor and city council are working well together, and some of the projects that they are involved with include replacing playground equipment downtown at Friendship Park and repairing several roads in the city.
In other chamber business, Tim Works said they would be joining with the city to hold an Easter egg hunt March 31 at Friendship Park. Works said that Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny would be on hand along with Kung Fu Panda, and that the chamber is asking for candy-filled egg donations. Drop-off points for donations are city hall, The Heritage Bank in Ludowici and Town and Country Florist and Salon. Works also reported that there would be a fun run/walk held April 28 at the recreation department. Proceeds will go to the 2012 Long County Relay for Life.
For more information, call 271-3013.