By Martha Jacob –
Brown County Commissioner Barry Woodruff spoke briefly to members of the Brown County Chamber of Commerce during its Nov. 17 meeting held at Reliable Transportation Solutions in Georgetown.
Commissioner Woodruff said he had several items he would like to talk about including some of the problems the commissioners have confronted regarding a “Close to Home” project consisting of plans for an Assisted Living Facility in the old vacated Southern State Community College building in Fincastle.
According to Woodruff, the project is the result of use of a CDBG Grant and a revolving loan. Woodruff said the project has faced several issues that must be overcome.
“What we’re having trouble with in these rural areas with development,” Woodruff said. “When you take a facility such as this, and the state comes in and says it has to have a complete sprinkler system, and a four inch water line on the street does not accommodate that, it’s a problem. So it appears that they’re going to have to use above ground tanks that can be replenished with fire trucks.
“They will have their challenges to pull that off. They still want to open by the first part of January and that’s the latest I know on that project.”
Woodruff also discussed challenges to county revenue.
“The sales tax in our county this year has increased,” Woodruff said, “The casino tax of course has decreased so it’s just about to be a wash, so we’re watching it. It’s also important to note that there have been two….what I call “Land Finders”…who sends someone into our area to see what kind of land is available, what kind of labor is available, utilities, things like being close to a railroad, how easy it would be to move trucks in and out and those kind of things. And we’ve had two of them recently scouting out locations here in Brown County.”
Woodruff said that at least one of the land finders has been searching the area for about six months and Brown County is still in the running which is a good thing. He said it is a very competitive field.
He also said that it looked like Oglethorpe was continuing with their plans to take over the hospital and purchase the property. He did say that the Home Care Division at the Hospital sold and now has a new location.
“We’re excited about the new HealthSource building which is still scheduled to open on January 9,” Woodruff said.
“Also, there could possibly be a new hotel coming to the Georgetown area. I don’t know who it is but some land finders are inquiring and are looking for a suitable location. Also the 1st Stops in this county are going up quickly as we all can see. They can go down and up really fast. The one here in Georgetown is almost complete and the same with the one in Ripley.
“Another issue is Rumpke. For years and years that landfill was filling up, primarily because of the hard work by Todd Rumpke, who has passed away. He felt like the gas that was building up in and under the landfill could be sold. So the other day they had a ground-breaking and this gas will be piped to a new facility that will then be converted to electricity that could provide electricity for about 3,000 homes. They are going to sell that electricity to the grid.
Woodruff told the room full of people at the meeting that the county budget was extremely tight and one problem they will have is the continuing efforts to fight the use of heroin and other drugs in the county.
He said it cost the county $72 per day, per inmate, and in this year’s budget a line item for $400,000 had to be put in to cover the costs of all the incarcerations.