Dearing Mayor Sean Kelley has his list of goals for 2007 ready, and is already checking it off.
On Dec. 14, Mayor Kelley and town council members Allen Axon, Kristopher Wells and Justin Story held a planning session with officials at the Central Savannah River Area Regional Development Center.
"I think the big thing for this coming year is having some long range plans. That planning session was good, getting a direction," the Mayor said. "I think that was the most important thing we've done."
The CSRA RDC is a public sector, non-profit planning and development agency that services 13 counties in East Georgia, primarily providing grant writing and economic development services.
In preparation of the planning session, Mayor Kelley and the council members made a "wish list" of goals they'd like to accomplish. The officials who met with Mayor Kelley and the town council thanked them for the list.
"Y'all are realistic, which is nice because we get some really unrealistic and unprepared people in here," Jason Hensley, an RDC planning and development specialist, said.
During the session, Mayor Kelley asked officials at RDC for advice in getting railroad crossing arms and school zone signs on North Main Street - two of his 2007 goals.
Through out the year, Mayor Kelley has been in touch with the Department of Transportation, the CSX Railroad Company and Senator Jim Whitehead regarding these issues, but has not had any success. After the RDC meeting, Mayor Kelley said he feels optimistic because he "received some really good information," and he will "continue to actively work on that."
Of the other items on the Mayor's list, RDC officials said Fire Department improvements were the most feasible and should be the top priority. Mayor Kelley will seek grant money for the expansion of Fire Station One and the addition of an ambulance station.
The effort required to receive a grant is one of the lessons Mayor Kelley learned during his rookie year. The Mayor said he and council members made "hundreds of phone calls" last year conducting a survey to assist in acquiring a grant for the old Dearing Elementary Gymnasium. In August, Dearing received the Georgia Community Development Block Grant of $500,000 to renovate the gym into a community center.
"At least that's a done deal. It's just going through the process now," Mayor Kelley said.
Jerry Dennis, the project manager of Precision Planning, Inc. and the architect for the project, unveiled the final drawings of the new gym for the Mayor and Council Members on December 20 at Dearing Town Hall. Mr. Dennis said the next step is to send a package to the Historic Preservation Department for their review. Construction on the project will begin in September.
Last January, the then newly-appointed mayor said the year would be "a learning process."
"It has been that way, but I really have learned a lot," Mayor Kelley said. "I've learned how things work and understand how to get things done a little better, so it's coming along. We hope to continue on that same road next year."
According to the Mayor, other projects to be addressed in 2007 are the annexation of some roads into the town limits, a children's park next to the Town Hall, and to become a Georgia Department of Community Affairs' Better Hometown.