Preserve our Past, Protect our Future
9/4/2017 ~ by Dr. Sonny Proctor
Founded in 1853, and incorporated in 1857, Jasper has long been the crossroads of north Georgia, and now we are there symbolically. This may be the single most important moment in our history dating back to when we were chosen over Tate as seat of newly formed Pickens County. We are facing choices which could give us even better quality of life, improved education, opportunities for our young people yet preserve our history and heritage.
When you are evaluating the potential candidates that are running for our City Council seats, I encourage you to check their records. Look at past successes and failures, large and small. Look at their service experience: doing what is right for those in need, irrespective of personal gain or reward and look at their leadership experience. Most importantly look at what they have done, what they say they will do, and then hold them to it!
My Service: 30 years in healthcare, helping others. I currently serve on three Not-for-Profit boards and others in the past: unselfishly serving public health, local business and our veterans. Now on the Council, I have worked hard to make a difference and also donated the majority of my Council meeting fees back to the city to support Jasper Youth Sports Association (J.Y.S.A.) I will continue to do this. I also serve on the Chattahoochee Technical College President’s Steering committee, and the Pickens County Schools CTAE Advisory Committee. We are trying to do something about educating the workforce in Pickens County, not just complain and dwell on the days of the Appalachian. The problem of skilled laborers in the United States is far bigger than “Let’s do it the way we used to”. In our county it revolves around population, housing, and jobs.
My Leadership Experience: I ran my own company before selling it and going to medical school. I secured training in Orthopaedics, the most competitive field at the time, and served as Chief Resident. At Mountainside I was in medical staff leadership for almost twenty years, finishing my medical career as a vice president for Piedmont Healthcare. During my tenure Piedmont Mountainside won state and national recognition for patient, employee and physician satisfaction. My successes have been built around team work, planning, and follow through.
Now, working with my new team the Jasper City Council, we have helped our city gain some ground, moving into the future. We need to hold the line and build on what we have accomplished. Please support candidates with a proven record of service, leadership and results!
What do we need to do? These are just places to start, and some are just underway!
First and foremost we need to organize our city’s structure according to our 1983 Charter to assure that all aspects of our operations have the appropriate checks and balances. This includes the planning process, budgeting, and employee policies. I think we should strive to proudly become a Georgia Municipal Association’s Ethical City. Hopefully, we can do this in a reasonable and organized way, while acting openly and transparently whenever possible. In this process we need to carefully plan for infrastructure maintenance and repair using tools like pro formas and feasibility studies before we begin the work. We need to do the same when we evaluate service lines like garbage, water and sewer and plan equipment and vehicle replacement, and construction projects. Preserve and Protect.
We need to better partner with other organizations in our community, particularly the Pickens County Government, but also the Pickens County School System and other educational entitles. And we must work with our state government and agencies, particularly GDOT. We need to prove we can get along. Preserve and Protect.
We must save Main Street and work together to develop and accomplish an exciting vision for these historic mountain crossroads. We can do this by working with our Downtown Industrial Development Authority, as per our Charter, revisit and act on the previous plans by Kimley-Horn and others around the historical preservation and transportation challenges we face. Of course we can continue to work to clean up Main Street and complement our new trees and flowers, include directional and gateway signs, greenspace and parking. We can explore such programs as the Department of Community Affairs Georgia Main Streets, the Georgia Municipal Associations Heart and Soul program and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government programs, who all offer opportunities for grants which may save taxpayer dollars.
Some people say too much red tape. I say hard work, but worth it, and people willing to do it. We need to develop and implement building guidelines which preserve historical structures and apply fair and attractive standards for any future development, including a more open and stringent planning, approval and permitting and inspection process. Any new construction should complement our historical buildings, as our Comprehensive Plan already dictates. Recall what we have lost on Main Street in the last 25 or so years: a Mexican restaurant, bakery, book store, card shop, bicycle store, savings and loan, fitness center, theater, photography studio, jewelry store, law offices, restaurants, toy store, auto parts store. Despite these business losses, we decided to narrow the streets, widen and brick the sidewalks. And plant trees, lots of trees. Preserve and Protect.
We also need to continue explore economic development opportunities for our local businesses before they disappear and that doesn’t necessarily mean growth or drastic change. We can do this in a way that preserves our current lifestyle, but builds on the positives we have. One simple way is to improve and maintain our current parks and recreation areas, keeping them clean and safe. Here there is opportunity to bring people in to our city to visit, spend money, and leave without having to provide them with expensive services like water and sewer. Preserve and protect.
Finally and most importantly we need to energize our town with more of the excitement we are beginning to see, help our young people take charge and command of their futures, and make this community what they want! We need to dispel the negative, and build the positive. Preserve and Protect.
Please support the wonderful past and future of Jasper, Georgia, the home town I choose to love. Vote Sonny Proctor. Preserve and Protect!
Disclaimer: These are not all my ideas. Many of them are your other Council members’ issues which I wholeheartedly support!
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