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April 11, 2013

Hamilton County Commissioners unhappy with development authority

Jasper — During the April 2 meeting of the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners, the subject of economic development was discussed. Hamilton County Economic Development Director Susan Ramsey was on the agenda but was not present to give an update.

County Clerk Greg Godwin said Ramsey called him the previous day and told him the only update she had was that the new sign for the Industrial Park should be approved by the development authority at the next month’s meeting and then installed shortly thereafter.

“It’s just now being approved?” Commissioner Josh Smith asked Godwin.

“That’s what she said,” Godwin replied.

“The material’s been sitting there how long with you?” Smith asked Godwin.

Smith said he’d like to make a serious recommendation that the board find someone else to do the sign.

“I just don’t know that we’re getting, uh...there’s a serious lack of motivation with that group, that board, the entire...I don’t know. We’ve had that sign paid for, for how long?”

“Close to a year,” Commission Chair Randy Ogburn said.

“And they’re just now getting around to approving?” Smith asked.

Ogburn suggested they ask Ramsey to attend the next day commission meeting.

Smith cut him off and said, “This is just my opinion, but I’m tired of asking.”

Smith also said the board deserved a little more effort on the part of the economic development council and Ogburn agreed. Smith said if things didn’t change drastically by the end of the fiscal year he would have a recommendation for the board.

Commissioner Buster Oxendine said, “The only thing about it is we’re not going to have the funds they have. The way the statute’s legislation is written, they have the authority to have those funds. They have the authority to do exactly what they’re doing, and they have the authority not to answer to this board whatsoever.”

“That can be changed, Mr. Oxendine,” Smith said.

Oxendine explained that two weeks ago he called County Coordinator Danny Johnson and asked him to look into the issue of the sign and get an answer from Ramsey’s office. He said he didn’t know if Ramsey would have even mentioned the sign to Godwin over the phone if he hadn’t inquired about it.

“I was ready to go buy a sign and have it installed myself,” said Oxendine. “It’s been long enough.”

“I agree with both of you,” said Ogburn. “We need to do something. And I agree with you Mr. Smith, if they don’t do something, we will do something, one way or another.”

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