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Toombs Commission Focuses On Road Upgrades

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Planning road improvements within the county was a hot topic for the Toombs County Commission during their monthly meeting on Tuesday, August 16.

Commissioners approved a bid from McLendon Enterprises to construct storm drainage and improve roadways for three new roads within the County, which they hope will continue to improve traffic. This comes as a part of a project that has spanned over several years, which is being overseen by Hofstadler and Associates and funded through a Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) grant. This grant will fund $1,3000,000 of $2,946,654.53 total cost, and funds from the Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) and Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) will cover the rest. Commission Chairman David Sikes explained that Senator Blake Tillery was a driving force for this project through his help with securing GDOT approval and funding. County Manager John Jones also shared that it was the transportation study completed by GDOT several years ago that convinced the group of the necessity to upgrade the roads. McLendon Enterprises will also complete storm drainage and road improvement work on John Wilkes Road as a part of the 2021 Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) projects. LMIG funds from last year will fund a large portion of the $1,124,604.61 project cost, with SPLOST and TSPLOST covering any remaining expenses.

Road Closure

The Commission will move forward to begin the process of closing a portion of Lake Drive. Two property owners, a mother and a son, submitted the request to close this road to unite their properties, which are currently across the road from each other. The request was reviewed by authorities which found no issue in the closure. Adjacent property owners will be notified of this proposed road closure and a public hearing will be held prior to the September meeting of the Toombs County Commission to allow any concerns to be addressed. REPORTS Development Authority Toombs County Development Authority Executive Director Michele Johnson gave Commissioners a status update on the development of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, as well as an overview of events and projects within the County.

Rural Center For Entrepreneurship

According to Johnson, the requests for quotations for the Center are on the appropriate registry and have a deadline of August 31. After this deadline, Johnson says authorities will move forward with designing the structure.

CREATE Update

Johnson told Commissioners that at the recent Cultivating Rural Entrepreneurs and Transforming Economies (CREATE) visit on August 14, the TCDA spent the day touring the community, meeting with local stakeholders, and more. She said that Main Street America Chief Program Officer Matt Wagner complimented Toombs County and the surrounding community for its involvement, as he said that out of the 1,600 communities with which he is currently working, Toombs County had the highest public participation rate in a recent survey and meetings. The TCDA joined the first CREATE cohort, which is directed by the combined efforts of the Georgia Power Company, Main Street America, and University of Georgia Office of Public Service and Outreach, in May 2022 to receive technical assistance, seed capital, and guidance to help support and attract entrepreneurs and small businesses to the area. In this effort, members of the community often meet with officials from these organizations as well as leaders from Baldwin, Bleckley, Hart, Pickens, and Polk counties to study the area.

Coming Events

The Greater Vidalia Leadership classes for adults and youth, which are being led by Kailey Dees and Rizza O’Connor, will begin on August 18 and 19. A ribbon cutting will be held on Monday, August 29, at 4 p.m., for Walker Pharmacy of Lyons, located on 160 South Victory Drive in the Thriftway Shopping Center.

The Greater Vidalia Chamber will have its annual 2022 Business and Leadership Conference on Thursday, September 22, at First Baptist Church of Vidalia. The guest speakers will be former University of Georgia linebacker and author Rennie Curran, who coaches others in development and leadership, and Career Potential Creator Dr. Melissa Furman.

Other Business

The members and terms of the Toombs County Department of Family & Children Services Board were reaffirmed by Commissioners following the confusion that has arisen over the years regarding the organization. They are as follows: Ann Bedingfield: July 1, 2021-June 30, 2026 Clarence Pittman: July 1, 2020-June 30, 2025 S. Wayne Smith: July 1, 2017-June 30, 2023 Marianne McMillan: July 1, 2020-June 30, 2024 Sandra Williams: July 1, 2022-June 30, 2027 Commissioners appointed Commissioner Darriel Nobles to serve as the Toombs County representative for the Association of County Commissions in Georgia (ACCG) Legislative Leadership Conference.

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