On behalf of the Liberty County Board of Commissioners, I was honored to present the introduction to the state of the county on June 21 at the Chamber’s PTP Luncheon. The county always looks forward to presenting the yearly updates on our activities and projects.
In Liberty County, it can be quite easy to integrate the state of the county with the state of the city of Hinesville. While we are one as a community, we are two separate entities. Yes, it’s true as goes Hinesville, so goes Liberty County. We take great pride in knowing the county has been a supportive partner of the phenomenal commercial and residential growth of Hinesville.
However, I am reminded and remind you there is a sizable portion of Liberty County that sits outside of any city limits. I promise you those people want and deserve the appropriate level of services for their respective communities.
Our presentation was designed to be twofold: to present a glimpse at all aspects, the county functions that cross city lines and those services that are unique to unincorporated Liberty County. A part of that presentation included updates on the much needed freight route (bypass) that will help to alleviate truck traffic on Highway 84, the necessity to pass the tentative November 2019 referendum for T-SPLOST that will help fund the bypass and other much needed infrastructure needs in our cities and county. Completed SPLOST projects include the animal shelter, the ongoing planning to provide the nonexistent county-wide fire and public safety services for every area of the county and the first year of providing county sponsored work and life skills training for our youth. In the presentation it was very apparent that everything we do is not done by a few, but by a supporting cast of my fellow commissioners, dedicated county administrative team members, department heads and their assistants and the 400-plus county employees who are truly our boots on the ground.
A fairly recent article that referenced Gwinnetts County’s phenomenal growth made this observation: Partnership Gwinnett — a comprehensive community and economic development initiative concentrated on four key areas: (1) job growth and wealth creation, (2) education and workforce excellence, (3) quality of life; and (4) marketing and outreach. Challenged and motivated by the success of that initiative I am recommending that we consider creating Partnership Liberty.
My initial and unscientific assessment is that while we presently have the tools of the partnership, we lack the strategic planning to coordinate, nurture and maximize those tools. We are much like a slogan adopted by Love-It Productions, “We don’t know where we’re going but we’re going somewhere!”
Well, as a community we need to create the map to somewhere. Yes, we’ve done well, but echoing the sentiments of Jeff Ricketson as he referenced the necessity of a strategic plan for development of our interchanges at I-95 and Mike Hester as he referenced a strategic plan to weave the pieces of the health care puzzles together we need to develop strategy, goals and timelines with periodic community updates. In the world of healthcare we say “if it’s not documented, it’s not done.”
I challenge each contributing entity: each development authority, each city, Fort Stewart leadership, the Liberty County Board of Education, all elected and appointed officials, each college, each Chamber and CVB, Coastal Workforce Development, healthcare and behavioral health care providers, each industrial and business providers, the Hinesville Housing Authority, GICH, each civic club and the general citizenry of Liberty County to embrace the pillars of job growth and wealth creation, education and workforce excellence, enhanced quality of life and marketing and outreach.
While I referenced Gwinnett County’s model, one may ask if our model can have its own identity. Using Gwinnett County’s model as our baseline, we can truly make ourselves “Liberty County Proud” working as a collaborative unit of “Partnership Liberty.”
I am reminded of the Chinese proverb that says “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. It’s tree planting time!
Lovette is chairman of the Liberty County Commission.