Houston County leaders communicate outside of Vision 2020

chwright@macon.comDecember 28, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- It’s been more than a year since Houston County held an official intergovernmental meeting, but that doesn’t mean the governments haven’t been working together, officials say.

“We still meet, just in a different setting,” said Perry Mayor Jimmy Faircloth.

The city mayors and county commission head said they have met regularly through the year but haven’t called any Vision 2020 meetings because the same items they’d talk about at the meeting had already been discussed.

Vision 2020 was created in 1999 as an avenue for the county, its three cities and other community leaders to coordinate efforts throughout Houston County. It now consists of Centerville, Perry, Warner Robins, Houston County, Houston County schools and Houston Healthcare.

Since its inception, meetings have been spotty. It began with meetings to be held once a month, then moved to quarterly meetings.

The group agreed in January 2011 to only call the quarterly meeting if there were truly issues to discuss. Houston County Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker said then it didn’t make sense to meet for the sake of meeting. He said the same this week.

“We all have enough meetings to go to just be meeting for the sake of it,” Stalnaker said.

Centerville Mayor John Harley said the three cities and county work closer now than they had a decade ago, collaboration partly inspired by Vision 2020.

“We realized that when we’re doing something, we need to do it collectively,” he said. “Rather than doing things by ourselves, we’re trying to do it as a family.”

It’s why the four government heads get a lot done by meeting regularly for lunch with Superintendent Robin Hines and representatives from Houston Healthcare and haven’t needed Vision 2020 meetings.

“When we need to bring stuff before the public, we will call a meeting,” Stalnaker said.

Stalnaker added the group may convene in the first quarter of 2013 to discuss if a set number of meetings a year is necessary.

Harley, Faircloth and Stalnaker said individually they still see the benefit in the group. In an e-mail, Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen wrote he agreed.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s still in tact,” Faircloth said. “We just hadn’t met this year.”

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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