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Residents want more attention on east end
stevens and doyle 3
Commissioner Marion Stevens listens to concerns from Terry Doyle during a community meeting Monday. The light part on the map represents District 1. - photo by Photo by Alena Parker.
“Everything’s in Hinesville,” several people in the audience of about 40 said during a District 1 community meeting hosted by county Commissioner Marion Stevens.
The sentiment Monday was there was a clear lack of facilities and services on their side of the county.
And children seem to be the ones being deprived, according to Charlie Holmes.
Because “we have nothing,” Holmes hears how mothers have to take their children to Hinesville to participate in recreation programs.
“It does seem to be all concentrated in Hinesville,” Holmes said. “There’s a lot of things that you all need to look into.”
Others chimed in about how they were tired of the long drives to Hinesville to use the public pool, only to be met with waits.  
“They are going to have a marina to put boats in, but what do we have for young ‘uns to play in?” Bruce McCartney asked. “There’s absolutely nothing out there than kids getting in someone else’s yard.”
County Administrator Joey Brown, recreation board chairman Kenny Howard, Liberty Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Hodges and board of education District 1 representative Verdell Jones attended to address concerns.
“That’s where we’re headed,” Howard said, mentioning plans to build more east-end playing fields. “You just have to be patient with us. We’re not perfect.”
Brown said, statistically the county’s largest population group averages ages 5-12 and said there are “no parks to accommodate” them. But, he said, plans are in the works, referring to a planning workshop March 4 and the new SPLOST cycle beginning in April.
“Land is a problem, but we’re cognizant of the fact we need to move out,” Brown said.
“You’re going to see people from Hinesville travel out here.”
Otis Amason thought officials were “long on promises and short on action.”
Terry Doyle asked to see more facilities for seniors and more tracks and walking trails for exercise.
“From sitting here in this meeting, it doesn’t look like it’s gotten much better,” Lupert Miles said. “This end of the county is still lacking from what my daddy did years ago.”
But all the feedback was not critical.
John Henderson commended Ella Golden for her push to open a second early polling place in Midway during the last general election.
“It was a lifesaver,” Henderson said. “It helped a lot of people to early vote without coming into Hinesville.”
Stevens recognized constituents had valid points.
“You can take all the districts, put them in District 1 and still have space left,” Stevens said in pointing to a map.
Jones, representing the school board, defended BoE spending, saying “we’ve got to learn to be proactive.”
“What’s happened for years is we played behind the power ball,” Jones said. “Everyone deserves a quality of life.”
With all the schools in the system filled to capacity, $2.7 million cut out the budget and thousands of students due to arrive in a couple years, it leaves very few options.
“What are we going to do with these children,” asked Jones. “Build modules? No, we have to build more schools.”
Hodges, the EMA director, reminded residents no storm shelters are established in the county.
Residents should always evacuate during a natural disaster and “we’re due,” he said.
“And we live every year like it’s our due year,” Hodges said. “We’ve skated by so many years without a direct hit.”
Stevens, first elected in 1999, said he tries to have district meetings about once a year.
“When I ran for office in ‘98, my motto was honest, open and keeping you informed,” Stevens said. “And that was one of my ways of keeping
the citizens informed.”
“This meeting has no intention of shaming anyone,” he said.
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