We already know Bryan County is a great place to live and work, but did you know it’s a great place to “play” as well?
The community’s leaders, elected officials and staff are intent on ensuring residents a top-notch quality of life here, and that should include plenty of housing options, strong infrastructure, solid schools, a thriving local economy and – of course – recreation opportunities.
In 2019, our recreation department enjoyed a banner year in terms of progress and participation – and we are taking advantage of that momentum and build on it. There has been a consistent 5 percent increase in program participation with baseball, football, basketball, volleyball, and girls’ softball. The maintenance and athletic staffs increased to more than 30 employees to accommodate this demand for athletic programs. In addition, the department added a concessions manager, assistant director, several maintenance personnel, new summer camp counselors, and several special event coordinators to assist various program managers.
New and exciting programs for youth and adults have been added in both the north and south ends of the county. These include adult volleyball for participants ages 18 and older, and two summer camps for youth ages 5-13, open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. We have been successful in creating in-house leagues in sports such as softball, baseball and football.
Due to popular demand, skate night has been resurrected in the South end and has always been available in the North end. In Hendrix Park, we installed a new turf field and upgraded the concessions stand, restrooms and other amenities.
But this surge of growth doesn’t end there. In 2020, we’ve got much more planned. DeVaul Henderson Park will soon boast some new amenities, such as a 19,000-square-foot double gymnasium, two additional recreational fields and parking. The work will be paid for with SPLOST funds and financing methods secured by the county. Plan development is under way.
We also want to see to it that Bryan County residents – especially children – have solid options for “literary recreation.” November, we signed an MOU with the City of Richmond Hill to build a new library near Town Centre Road. If possible, we’d like to see a library that’s not only a library but functional for other things as well. A community room where the library could host do some after-school or summer programs would be ideal.
Bryan County’s Community Development Department has implemented many projects over the past year and has more planned for 2020. The department recently rebranded itself to reflect the comprehensive services provided – building inspections, plan reviews, code enforcement and long-range and current planning. The motivation behind this change is to become a one-stop shop for the public. Technology upgrades and providing better and more accurate information has been and will continue to be a focus for the department. They have transitioned to a digital submittal program for permits and plans. The department’s preparation of the Unified Development Ordinance is well under way and will be completed in 2020.
To keep the community safe, Bryan County continues to invest in new patrol vehicles, EMS units and public works equipment. Deputies received a pay increase this year, and seven new personnel members were added to BCES. We’re also in the beginning stages of designing the intersection at Wilma Edwards Road and Highway 280. In fact, Bryan County will invest almost $1 million in road resurfacing projects this year – that’s double what our budget was a couple years ago before we began this aggressive maintenance campaign, thanks to TSPLOST revenue.
Additional transportation-related projects slated for 2020 include the Mill Hill Road elevation work (which is in the permitting process) and road shoulder projects. The county is also hoping to get started on some pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly infrastructure projects. Studies to be conducted will determine where they should be located.
Bryan County is and likely will always be a bustling community, and we try mightily to keep pace with the growth and progress. But to us, that means more than building roads and other physical changes needed to keep the populace safe and happy. It also means putting things in place to keep residents healthy, well-rounded and mentally stimulated. And that – among other reasons – is why we’re looking forward to implementing the aforementioned plans, projects and more.
Infinger is chairman of the Bryan County Board of Commissioners.