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Outlook 2007: McDuffie County plans to use 2007 to plan for future

After completing a nice list of accomplishments in 2006, McDuffie County government is considering the New Year as a time to plan ahead for the future.

During the past year, McDuffie County began fully staffing the current Fire Station One and has seen the start of construction on a new station that is scheduled for completion in May of 2007. The North Dallas Drive sewer project was completed, as was the Sweetwater Gym - on schedule and within the budget.

Though there are projects and programs already in the works for 2007, the main thrust of the year will be planning, said County Manager Don Norton. County officials will begin work on updating the multi-year comprehensive plan, the solid waste management plan and the fifth Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

"What I really see is that combination of the comprehensive planning exercise and the SPLOST V planning, which obviously go hand in hand," Mr. Norton said. "Both of those things are going to be extremely important for McDuffie County's future. We've just got to get that lined out, get people to start buying into it. We can't really start construction until we know exactly where we want to go."

In conjunction with SPLOST, Mr. Norton said fleshing out details on the proposed joint government complex is paramount for the New Year.

"The timing is such that we really need to not just talk about it, but actually start putting some steps or tasks on paper," he said.

Other big projects for the County Commission this year include the completion of the Belle Meade and Hwy. 150 interchange sewer expansion, which should be done in spring. Also, the water system expansion in the southeastern portion of the county should get underway this year.

As for road construction, the county is set to handle construction on Clark-Reese Road this year. Also, progress on the new I-20 interchange at Three Points Road should continue, Mr. Norton said.

"It's a huge, huge project with a potential major impact on the county," he said of the new interstate exit that could attract more businesses like the recently completed Love's Travel Stop on Exit 172.

McDuffie County will also see a first this year. Business licenses will be required in the unincorporated area of the county for the first time ever. That initially controversial program began in January.

"Once we get through a period of implementation, I think people will realize that it's not such a bad thing, and it's probably a good thing in the long run," Mr. Norton said.

And as usual, McDuffie County will continue many joint projects with the City of Thomson. Those include cleanup of the old Thomson Company buildings, construction of new airport hangars and runway extension, as well as upgrades and expansions at both water treatment plants.

Web posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007

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