Our look back on 2012 in Bryan County comes to a close on a positive note as we review stories of progress, graditude and closure.
This is the third in a multi-part look back at the year we’re leaving behind. Stories are listed in no particular order.
Belfast projects move forward
Belfast Commerce Centre and the interchange at Belfast Siding Road and Interstate 95 in South Bryan have been a top priority for Richmond Hill and Bryan County officials for a long time, and 2012 proved to be a productive year for the future of both projects.
Officials broke ground on Belfast Commerce Centre in early December, and the city of Richmond Hill in August reached an agreement with TerraPointe, the site development firm, to provide water and sewer to what is touted as the largest rail-served industrial site in the region.
The cost of clearing the land, installing the water and sewer lines and more, project, is estimated by TerraPointe to be around $4 million.
Mayor Harold Fowler said in August he made it clear to TerraPointe representative Dan Camp that Richmond Hill residents would not pay for any of the water and sewer line. Camp echoed that sentiment.
“(Fowler) has made that abundantly clear,” Camp said. “It has been a lot of hard work and we’re appreciative of the efforts of the entire team here to get this done.”
School employees get bonus
School employees received a big surprise in November from the Bryan County Board of Education.
Each permanent employee across the county received a one-time bonus equal to 3 percent of his or her annual salary. Board Chairman Eddie Warren said then the employees deserved such a boost, especially after giving so much to students.
“The state has cut (funds) since 2003, and just in Bryan County they’ve cut over $26 million, monies that we have earned but (we) haven’t been able to get, and its been since 2008 since teachers have actually had a pay raise,” Warren said in November. “They still get their step raises as they have experience, but the state hasn’t given a pay increase, and we feel like our teachers deserved it.
“We worked diligently on the budget to try to find some money for something we could do, and we found it and presented the money to them for appreciation of what they do for our children each and every day.”
Pembroke gets housing program
Pembroke was one of five cities in the state in November selected for the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH) program — a three-year sate program that helps leaders address housing needs in their community.
The city went through an extensive interview and application process to be selected for the grant, which took months to prepare for, according to Sharroll Fanslau, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority.
The grant will provide training, instruction and technical assistance to the housing team, made up of community leaders, local builders, lawyers, bankers and more, find funding to improve existing houses in the community, as well as establish new housing and create a more cohesive look for the community, Fanslau said in November.
Read more in the Jan. 5 edition of the News.