Every night before bed, my wife, children and I sit and watch a few episodes of the Andy Griffith Show. I have always enjoyed the simplicity of life in Mayberry and how the show is rooted in values and beliefs that are traditionally associated with rural America. In today’s world, it can be so easy to look past what our community is rooted in, as the rest of the country attempts to project itself on rural America and change the values and ideals that rural communities have upheld for generations. The Andy Griffith Show reminds me that Emanuel County must always stay focused on what has always made rural America great— faith, family, community, hard work and tradition. Our local government, which is made up of a team of elected officials and county employees, works every day to ensure that we are that community by providing effective and efficient services that create value for the citizens and makes Emanuel County a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
Over the past year, Emanuel County has made significant progress in several areas. One change that has already made a significant impact on the community is the county’s adoption of the Emanuel County Senior Center. This department once operated as an independent non-profit, but after unexpectedly losing the centers long time director, there was a need for someone to step in and operate the center. Last summer, Emanuel County Commissioners voted, with the support of the municipalities and Senior Center Board of Directors, to take in the Emanuel County Senior Center. This department is vital for our community, and with grant funds provides meals to low income and homebound senior citizens. The center also offers social and recreational opportunities for many of our longest tenured residents. In addition to offering services to seniors, the center assists low income residents with applications for energy and home repair assistance. Since taking over the center, Emanuel County hired Ms. Beth Gibson, former assistant director for Laurens County Senior Center, to serve as the Director. She brought with her a significant amount of experience and has already made several positive changes for the center. Recently, the department received a grant that is going to allow us to expand the number of meals provided to home bound seniors.
Road Improvements are always a topic of interest, and this past year we were able to address a few very important projects. After several years of work and incremental progress, Fairground Road West was paved. This road is critical for public safety traffic and traffic that is accessing the Emanuel Women’s Facility. It also creates a much faster route for traffic commuting from US 1 to old Hwy 57. The county also resurfaced Green Spence Road. and completed a new parking lot project that serves the Courthouse, government administration buildings, and businesses downtown. This year, the county will be resurfacing Old Nunez Road and bringing it closer to a state route standard. This will allow for the road to support the additional truck traffic that has come from new industry in the area. A 1.5 mil section of Wadley Coleman Lake Road will also be resurfaced.
Recently, Commissioners passed a resolution supporting the Keep America Beautiful Organization and established the Keep Emanuel Beautiful Committee. This resolution stands to show Emanuel County’s commitment to cleaning up our community. This year, we were able to continue enhancing our solid waste sites by expanding some sites, improving the fencing, and adding live stream cameras. These improvements have already helped to eliminate some illegal dumping, and have helped significantly in the prosecution of illegal dumpers in our community. The Commissioners also voted to purchase a new truck, several new waste containers and five bulk waste containers that are located at our high traffic sites around the county.
Public Safety continues to be a priority for Emanuel County as two very important 911 projects will be starting soon. The new Emanuel County Emergency Operation Center should break ground within the next few months. This project is being funded with federal reimbursement funds and will be built using inmate labor. The new 911 CAD and phone system have been approved and will be implemented soon. This project will be funded with SPLOST funds and a $100,000.00 USDA Grant that was recently awarded to our county. The Emanuel County Fire and Rescue Volunteers have also recently received new breathing apparatuses and will soon be receiving brand new turnout gear.
Over the past few months, the Commissioners have provided support to the Emanuel County Complete Count Committee. This committee has been tasked with helping build awareness about the upcoming Census and the importance that it carries for our community. Many of our communities most important funding sources are tied to the Census, as well as local, state, and federal congressional districts. It is important that our percentage growth mirror that of the state, which is expected to be around 10%.
Overall, this has been a great year for our community—our local economy is performing well, the county is in excellent financial shape, the Emanuel County Development Authority has been successful in bringing in new industry, Emanuel Medical Center has been named a Five Star Hospital, and numerous other achievements have been made by our school system, municipalities, colleges, and various other community organizations.
Progress can be measured in numerous ways, and in Emanuel County, we view progress as staying rooted in the ideals that have made this community great for so long. As citizens, you can be a part of this progress. Always have a positive mindset, because we are a blessed county. Be community minded and get involved, because we are stronger together. Be a part of the solution and be intentional with your efforts, because anything is possible. If we work together and focus on what is truly important then Emanuel County will always be “The Place to Grow.”
L. Guy Singletary