Here we are, three full weeks into 2020 and moving full-speed ahead with a plethora of plans and initiatives to improve Bryan County. With everything we have going on right now, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of progress and look toward the future in anticipation. But let’s not forget all the careful planning, hard work and numerous achievements that got us to this point to begin with.
Last year, 2019, was filled with accomplishments that should make any Bryan County resident proud. We completed and started significant projects that will have a long-lasting impact on our citizens’ quality of life. We forged strong partnerships and alliances around the region, using the power of like-minded, forward-thinking collaborators to inform lawmakers and ensure they comprehend the importance of what we’re working on here in Bryan County. We implemented guidelines, programs and technology that will help ensure orderly growth and safe building practices in our community.
Truly, 2019 was an impressive year for Bryan County, and we’d like to take a moment to look back at it and thank all of the people who keep us on track and moving steadily into our bright and exciting future.
Some of last year’s accomplishments include:
• Passing an ordinance establishing transportation impact fees for all new residential and new non-residential construction in unincorporated Southern Bryan County thereby allowing population growth to help fund the expansion of our infrastructure.
• Breaking ground on a new Bryan Emergency Services Station 1, which will be opening in the coming days.
• Implementing a new Animal Control Ordinance to encourage responsible pet ownership and protect the welfare of animals in the county
• Started work on two roundabouts at the Belfast River and Harris Trail intersection, and the Belfast River and Belfast Keller intersection. Both of these roundabouts are currently open to traffic and the final touches will made in the coming weeks.
• Broke ground on the new Interstate 95 interchange on Belfast Keller Road and construction progress is moving along well.
• Partnered with ABM, a leading provider of facility solutions, to implement an Energy Performance Contracting program that has allowed us to fund much needed building improvements to our large inventory of facilities.
• Created a new Public Facilities Authority to allow the county to borrow money at very low interest rates for facilities it needs, such as fire stations and recreation department gyms.
• Voted to roll back the county’s millage rate to counter increases in property values and keep taxes down.
• Installed a new artificial turf field at Hendrix Park and completed numerous recreation improvements and upgrades, such as new concession stands, signs, restrooms and lighting. More upgrades are scheduled for 2020, including a new gym and soccer field at Henderson Park.
• Partnered with the City of Richmond Hill to begin working on plans to bring a new, state-of-the-art library to county residents.
• Welcomed several new county leaders and celebrated the awards and honors bestowed upon our department heads and their hardworking teams.
• Finished work on BCES Station 9, which underwent a total renovation and update.
• Paved dozens of miles of roadway in both the North and South ends of the county
• Cleared several miles worth of canals in both the North and South ends, which continues to ensure that our roads are safe for motorists.
• Kicked off the first phase of creating a Unified Development Ordinance, which will keep our development ordinances up to date with other communities that are experiencing our high rate of growth.
• Renovated the historic Bryan County Courthouse and modernized our courtrooms
• Helped to ensure that the Highway 144 widening project was added and remained on the State’s priority list.
• Partnered with Coastal Electric EMC to bury power lines along highway 144 and at our new roundabouts, which will enhance the aesthetics and the recovery times after a hurricane.
So, as you can see, we’re very proud of everything we accomplished, started on and completed in 2019. It’s hard to believe that 2020 will likely bring even more achievements, progress and finished tasks, but we’re certain this momentum will continue. We’re grateful to all of our employees, partners and residents for making 2019 Bryan County’s best year yet, and we look forward to what the next 12 months has in store for our wonderful community.
Editor’s note: Carter Infinger is chairman of the Bryan County Board of Commissioners.