To the Citizens of District 1 and Butts County Citizens,
With Election 2012 behind us, I want to again take the opportunity to say “Thank You” to the voters of my district for returning me to office for another term. In spite of the economic downturn and other uncertainties we have faced as a community, I think we have managed to accomplish a lot of things over the past four years and I am grateful for the trust you have placed in me to represent your concerns and expectations in our county government.
There is still work to do and I promise to remain committed towards making Butts County a better home for our families, a better draw for industry and commerce and our county government more responsive and efficient. Please remember that I am here to serve and to help if I can. I appreciate your support, your input and your perspective which helps me to be a more effective County Commissioner. Thank you for giving me that opportunity again.
G.S. “Gator” Hodges
District 1 Commissioner
To the Citizens of District 1:
Today I am formally announcing that I have qualified to seek re-election to the position of County Commissioner of District 1. Over the past three and a half years, it has been my privilege to represent you on the Butts County Board of Commissioners and to put my best efforts into making Butts County’s government more efficient and effective as well as to promote our county as a great place to live, work and grow a business. I am proud of what we have been able to achieve in the past few years and I hope to continue serving you and working towards making Butts County the home that we are all proud to call “our home”.
This board has faced challenges none of us could have imagined just five years ago. The collapse of the housing market and the lingering recession have impacted not just our county but our entire state and nation. Locally elected officeholders have had to learn, in some cases the hard way, how to ensure that their counties could survive wave after wave of economic impacts and I can say that we have dealt with situations that no county commissioner has had to face in modern times. Despite these challenges, Butts County has done far more than many other counties to ensure our stability and it is thanks to the leadership of our board, the diligence of our county employees and the input of our constituents that Butts County has so far weathered the storm as well as it has.
We are now working on our budget for the upcoming year and are making preparations to lower the county millage rate by at least 2.5 mils in addition to the small decrease we were able to make last year. Thanks to the vote of confidence by our citizens this past November, we have successful implemented a continuation of SPLOST that has allowed us to remove debt that has been on the books long before our board took office and to allow sales tax dollars to retire those debts rather than property tax dollars. By lowering the millage rate, the property owners get some tax relief, we suddenly become much more attractive to business and industry looking for a place to locate and these bring with them jobs and eventually, a stronger tax base that takes even more of the burden off the homeowners and landholders.
Today, counties around us are having to look at tax increases and massive cuts in the upcoming budget year. While we certainly are not prosperous, Butts County is looking at tax decreases and has a fully funded reserve that meets the recommendations of the State and our auditors. Our debt is now being paid by sales tax dollars, the bulk of which come from fuel sales by out-of-county visitors and we have been commended by our auditors for having set the goal and working towards stabilizing and strengthening our government’s financial security during these trying times.
Despite all that has been accomplished, there are many challenges and problems that must still be faced. Dwindling state and federal funding for infrastructure such as road and bridge improvements continues to be an issue of major impact to local governments. Attracting good industry and strengthening our existing industry is also a challenge each commissioner faces in the upcoming year as our economy struggles to reassert itself. I feel confident in my abilities and now, my experience, to continue helping our county to face these challenges and to work with our team of commissioners, employees and citizens to find workable solutions to new problems that we will face. It is because of that and because of my genuine desire to make Butts County the best county in the state that I am seeking re-election to the office of District 1 County Commissioner. I want a county that we can all be proud of and a community that we can raise our son to be proud of as well.
I also believe in making myself accessible to the public and to keep them informed of what is going on in the county and the state. I can be reached by cell phone at 678-758-5631, by email at email@example.com or through the County Clerk at 770-775-8200. To follow what is going on and what I am working on, please see my website at http://www.gatorhodges.com or follow me on Facebook and Twitter. If I can help you or if you need more information, please contact me. If I can’t answer the phone, please leave me a message and I will get back with you.
Thank you for your confidence in electing me in 2008 and for your support of me in the years since. I ask you again for your support and your vote in this year’s election.
G.S. “Gator” Hodges
Butts County Officials will officially open and dedicate the new Worthville Fire Station-Butts County Station 3, tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM (Tuesday, May 22). This new state-of-the-art fire station replaces the old station that was torn down last year due to age and structural deficiencies. Primary funding for the construction was obtained through a grant by the US Department of Homeland Security. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10:00 AM and once concluded, the station will be open for tours by Fire Department personnel. The Fire Department will begin the process of moving into the new station and equipping it later this week.
The new station features a large bay area, sleeping quarters, a day room and kitchen, utility room and a small meeting room that can host training sessions or meetings. A large upstairs area is available for storage or other uses. Additionally, a piece of Worthville Fire Department history will soon make its way back to the station. Citizens familiar with the old station will remember the large granite dedication monument that used to be displayed proudly in front of the old fire station. This monument was removed when construction began to protect it from possible damage. It has been in secure storage since and will be put back on the grounds once the landscaping is completed and a suitable site is prepared for it.
The Butts County Board of Commissioners cordially invites the public to attend the ceremonies at 10:00 AM on May 22nd and to tour the new facility afterwards. The new station is located on Keys Ferry Road at the intersection with Walthall Road just west of Highway 36. Its strategic location ensures accessibility to multiple areas such as Fincherville and Jackson Lake as well as Henry and Newton County.
Our 10th District Congressman, Paul Broun will tour all twenty-five counties of the newly drawn 10th Congressional District Congressional District as he kicks off his campaign for reelection to Congress. Broun will travel the district by bus on Monday, May 21st through Friday, May 25th. I know that many of you have had the chance to meet him during some of his visits to Butts County but if you have not, I encourage you take the opportunity to stop by and meet the Congressman. He is scheduled to be in our area on Wednesday the 23rd, stopping at United Bank on Covington Street around 1:30PM and he is inviting all members of the public to come by. If you work in one of the surrounding towns and can’t get by there, he will also be making stops at the following locations that day:
12:00 pm – Henry Town Center, 1772 Jonesboro Road, McDonough
3:00 pm – The Square, Downtown Monticello
4:30 pm – Newton County GOP Headquarters (next to Square Perk Café), 1107 Church Street, Covington
Congressman Broun is very interested in getting to know his constituents in the new parts of his district and I hope you can stop by and visit with him during his time in Butts County.
I am pleased to announce that we will officially open and dedicate the new Fire Station at Worthville next Tuesday, May 22nd at 10:00 AM. This will be the first new fire station constructed by the County since 1996 when the Stark and Colwell Road stations were built and I think that the citizens of Butts County and especially those that live in the fire district covered by the station will be pleased with this new, state-of-the-art fire station. The old fire station in Worthville has always played an important role in the community it served, not just as a fire station but as a source of community pride and civic involvement. I hope that this new one will expand that even more and that the citizens of the area will be able to build on that with a new and larger facility.
The primary source of funding for this station comes from a Federal grant and we are appreciative of those who worked so hard to obtain this grant. Our fire department is both conscientious of the need to serve the public and of the limited funding that is oftentimes the reality and they are great about finding ways to do one without compromising the other. I know that they will be good stewards of this new facility and that it will serve our county and its needs for many years to come.
I hope that all of you will take the time to come by for the opening ceremony and will stay for a tour afterwards. Once it is manned and operational, come by and visit your community fire station and see it again. The Fire Department will begin the process of moving into the new station and equipping it in the weeks ahead so that it will be well prepared for its main purpose: to look after the citizens of its area. Thanks again and I hope to see you next Tuesday.
(May 3, 2012) – Butts County Commissioner G.S. “Gator” Hodges was recently named as the 2012-2013 2nd Vice Chairman of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) Economic Development and Transportation Policy Committee. The appointment was made by ACCG President and Taylor County Commissioner Clinton Perry.
Legislative advocacy and public policy development are two of the primary services that ACCG provides to Georgia counties. The association uses a consensus-based policy committee process to bring together county commissioners and county staff to discuss issues of concern to county government that require changes to state and federal laws and agency policies. Policy committees develop positions on key issues, which become part of the County Platform. The County Platform is voted on by the membership at the ACCG Legislative Leadership Conference held annually in October. ACCG policy staff use the County Platform to guide advocacy efforts on behalf of counties during the legislative session.
“Policy committee leaders serve an essential function by leading their peers in the discussion of critical issues facing Georgia counties,” said ACCG Executive Director Ross King. “These committees provide a forum for learning more about key policy issues, and our chairs and vice chairs are responsible for helping to lead the discussion and develop consensus.”
The Economic Development and Transportation Committee handles issues ranging from transportation infrastructure and funding and the relationship between the Georgia Department of Transportation and counties to job creation, incentives for industry and other issues.
“I am pleased to have the opportunity to serve as 2nd vice chairman of this committee and to work on legislative issues that have a direct impact on our community,” said Commissioner Hodges. “Economic development is a key component to the future stability of our state and for Butts County. It creates jobs and makes us financially stronger and will gradually shift more of the tax burden off of homeowners as the revenue base becomes more diverse. Transportation and the ability to move goods, services and people across the state in an efficient way goes hand in hand with economic development and this committee focuses on both of these. As we ready our county for future opportunities, we must work hard to make sure these two components continue to be developed properly with sustainable short-term goals and long-range objectives. I am honored to have been selected by my peers from across the state to serve in this position and pledge to continue to work hard to promote our county and our state to take advantage of the good things that will come our way”.
Commissioner Hodges will lead the Economic Development and Transportation Policy Committee with Rockdale County Chairman Richard Oden (chairman) and Ben Hill County Commissioner Scott Downing (vice chairman). In addition to legislative advocacy, ACCG also provides leadership development, civic and community engagement programs and membership services such as retirement and insurance programs and discounts for counties and county employees. For more information, visit http://www.accg.org.
The Butts County Commissioner’s Office and the Southern Crescent Technical College Board of Directors announced on Wednesday the upcoming grand opening of the new Commercial Truck Driver Training Range that has recently been constructed at the Butts County campus on Highway 16 West. The College made the decision to move the entire program from the main campus in Griffin due to the construction of a new building and the lack of sufficient land available to continue operating the program there. The local campus was selected due to its convenient location, state highway access, available land and the desire of the Board of Commissioners to work with Southern Crescent to bring the program here.
The program, which provides training to students wishing to learn how to properly operate and drive a commercial transit vehicle, as well as work towards obtaining their Commercial Driver’s License, required the construction of a training range sufficiently large enough to handle full size tractor trailer vehicles, which are provided by the College. There were several acres of unused land that were a part of the original 26 acre tract that was donated to Butts County to construct the campus but it required a considerable amount of grading and compaction work as well as paving and gravel materials to make it suitable for this purpose. The College, which is a State of Georgia agency, is allowed to contract directly with local governments if that option is available for construction projects. The proposal was made to the County in 2010 and the Board agreed to enter into a contract with the Technical College System of Georgia to construct the range at a cost of $362,000.00 utilizing the public works department. While the range is currently considered to be a long term program, the work done there makes a considerable amount of the available land suitable for use in other areas down the road, such as the construction of other campus buildings should the college wish to expand.
“Basically, we were paid by the State of Georgia to make improvements on our own property” said Interim County Administrator Michael Brewer, who also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Southern Crescent Technical College. “Since the County owns the campus property and building, we have improved our asset at no cost to us at all and the College saved money because we could do it for less funding. Every cost associated with this project, including manpower, equipment use and materials has been more than covered by the contract” he added.
Butts County Commission Chairman Roger McDaniel, an early proponent of the project stated “I am very pleased to have been in a position to help this program come to our community. In addition to enhancing the program offerings by Southern Crescent on the local level, it also draws students to Butts County from the surrounding areas which paints us in a positive light because we offer something they may not be able to access in the county they live in”. McDaniel, an alumni of Griffin Technical College, the predecessor to today’s Southern Crescent, added “It is a huge benefit to local students to have a choice to attend college courses at home. As much as I enjoyed attending Griffin Technical College in Griffin, it would have been great to have had the choice of attending college classes in Jackson back then as well”.
The Butts County campus, which will celebrate its fifth anniversary this year, was the largest collaborative community effort Butts County has seen in modern times. Working under very short deadlines, a local steering committee headed up an effort to raise $500,000.00 from the community to match a grant being offered by the State. Within a span of several weeks, the community exceeded the amount, raising $523,000.00 and was awarded the matching grant as a result. An additional $300,000.00 grant was also obtained, resulting in a $1.3 million dollar facility. With well over $800,000.00 invested by the college to furnish the building, equip the labs and the diesel mechanic programs, the total investment amounted to $2.1 million dollars invested in higher education by the community and the state. The campus has been operating at capacity for much of its time in existence.
Butts County Commission Vice Chairman Keith Douglas, in whose district the campus resides, said “They have been in asset to our community in ways we may not see for many years. Each student they have taught has been given new opportunities to make a better life for themselves through higher education and they were able to do that right here. We appreciate Southern Crescent and the investment they have made in our community and continue to make each day”.
On May 14, 2012, the College will host a ribbon cutting and grand opening for the new driving range. Officials from Butts County, the City of Jackson, Southern Crescent and the State are scheduled to be present. The ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 10:00AM. “We want to invite everyone in the community to come out and help us celebrate this new program” District 1 Commissioner Gator Hodges said. “The community built this campus and the County is pleased that we could do something to expand and build on what they did. This college helps to provide a better skilled and higher educated workforce to Butts County and that is what we are going to need to succeed in the future”.