Coweta reports long list of accomplishments in 2010

When it comes to county government it is the ongoing recession that often makes the headlines across the state and nation, especially in terms of falling revenues and cutbacks. But Coweta County was more fortunate than many in 2010. That reality, along with a long list of accomplishments made throughout the year, was noted Tuesday night in a presentation to the Coweta County Commission by county Public Information Officer Patricia Palmer.

“For the third year in this review I am here to tell you what you already know, that the economy is still the big story, that while the situation is very difficult Coweta has been very fortunate,” Palmer said.

“There are small, slow, consistent signs that point toward things looking better. Just over 13 months ago we had our first new subdivision submitted for review in two years. New home permits were up 40 percent over last year and county revenues finished the year slightly above our budget projections.”

Coweta County did fare better than many of the metro Atlanta counties in 2010. The large Piedmont Newnan Hospital broke ground at Poplar Road and I-85 and is well under way. The beginnings of the expansive Fischer Crossings commercial development in east Coweta took hold and, with the opening of the 136,000 Sam’s Club next week and NCG Cinemas in March, will soon begin to have a substantial impact on county sales tax and property tax revenues.
And while on a smaller scale, the county added individual businesses such as the Tractor Supply store on Ga. Highway 34 near Thomas Crossroads.

Palmer in the presentation noted that Coweta County has been fortunate because commissioners managed the county conservatively and have looked for ways to keep costs inline with the economic realities of the recession.

“To be prepared for this rocky recovery you cut $1.1 million from the budget a year ago and kept it flat this year,” said Palmer. “You have maintained a fund balance to serve as a hedge against emergency needs. And both our bond rating and our millage rate have stayed stable.”

Palmer continued the presentation with a very long list of accomplishments by the county that had occurred during 2010. Those accomplishments spanned the various departments and offices within county government.

A sampling of the extensive list of accomplishment noted by Palmer included:

• Through county management, planning and organization — reviewed and updated the Coweta County Short Term Work Program for 2011-2015, amended a number of county ordinances in areas such as impact fees, utility placement in the Quality Development Corridor, established a drug court and received the designation as a “Camera Ready” community in support of the television and movie industry.

• Perhaps the most significant event it terms of increasing the county’s presence in the film industry came in 2010 with the signing of a long-term management contract between Senoia’s RiverWood Studios and Hollywood-based Raleigh Studios.

“What this facility means to Raleigh is that is gives us a great presence in Georgia. It’s a great facility, it’s kind of an under-utilized jewel. The difference is that when you come here you’ll be able to get all of the resources that you need to take care of your motion picture or television show. It’s all existing here. And it can be packaged all in one umbrella,” said Raleigh executive vice president of studio operations Richard Nelson.

“It worked out because with Scott (Tigchelaar) and Paul (Lombardi) and RiverWood, they had a great facility that was already here. We wanted to have a place to set up and it made perfect sense to come out here. They had the place, we had the contacts and connections in Los Angeles, so we hope this marriage can build an infrastructure down here in the southern part of Atlanta.”

• Through the Cooperative Extension service, trained 21 new Master Gardners, continued with 4th grade water education, hosted the University of Georgia’s Master Cattleman’s course, operated a surplus vegetable market, conducted 681 tests for water and soil quality and maintained on the strongest 4-H organizations in Georgia.

• Through Parks and Recreation, updated the drainage at Whitlock Park, prepared three soccer fields and a walking trail at Central Park, began the expansion at Andrew Bailey Park to be completed in the spring and improved facilities at Riverview Park on the Chattahoochee River.

• Through the Coweta County Library System, opened the Grantville Library and moved forward with the replacement library in Senoia.

• Through building projects, completed the historic courthouse renovation project in downtown Newnan, broke ground for the new health department building and completed two new fire stations.

• Through transportation and infrastructure projects, completed four bridge replacements and engineered three others, performed work on 29 requests by the county’s municipalities, provided grading, paving and construction work on the 916 miles of county roadways, converted all county traffic signals to more efficient LED lights, completed the countywide flood study, continued with the stormwater management program, completed the first full year of the Dial-a-Ride program with five vehicles and more than 25,000 trips of which 78 percent were taken by seniors or for medical appointments and completed new taxiways at the airport.

• Through Public Safety, moved forward with a 700 megahertz radio system, improved the county fire department’s strategic plan by putting nine new vehicles in service, completed the new fire station on Corinth Road, broke ground for the new headquarters station on Turkey Creek Road, completed the total renovation of the Moreland station, began the renovation of the Grantville station and added a new swift water rescue boat and swift water team. Also through Public Safety the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit was recognized as one of the top three traffic units in the nation in traffic safety initiatives for agencies of similar size.

Continuing with other aspects of public safety-related accomplishments, Palmer noted that 45 classes on safety and self-defense were held, a needs assessment for the Coweta County Jail was initiated, the county’s 911 department implemented a new computer-aided dispatch system (CAD) and the Coweta County Prison was again named Facility of the Year by the Ga. Dept. of Corrections.

Palmer at the end of the presentation also noted the work of all county staff providing services to Coweta’s citizens.

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