Houston County needs new leadership

November 13, 2013 

Residents of Houston County, we have some problems, and nobody wants to state or address them with you except me.

Wouldn’t you think that we could bring industry into our county?

We are told we have the best schools in the midstate and among the best in the state. We are told we have the lowest taxes in the midstate. We have a well-educated populace and skilled aviation mechanics, electronic and electrical specialists, software and hardware technicians that have retired early and would be willing to re-enter the workforce.

Yet, with all those assets we can’t beg, borrow or steal an industry to locate in our county. We make jokes about Bibb County, but we are their laughingstock.

We buy several hundred acres for a distribution center, and the only distribution centers arriving in the midstate go to Bibb or another neighboring county. What gives?

A manufacturing plant of any type would be great, but, once again, they go to other nearby counties.

It would seem we have a long history of failure in our attempts to secure new industries to our county. Why?

Is it because our County Commission is asleep at the wheel? Is it because our Houston County Development Authority (and I mean to exempt our new executive director, Angie Gheesling, from my comments) can’t even develop a plan to gain industry and jobs for our people?

I know you wonder why I exempt the development authority’s new executive director as a source of the continuing failures. The reason I do is that she has not been here long enough to have developed or to have created the mental paralysis that seems to have been inflicted on authority members and that is evident in our too-long-serving county commissioners.

It is time for new leadership before we sit and watch our county and its people be left behind as jobs go elsewhere. I know some people think Robins Air Force Base is safe and will be here forever. Tell that to the folks in San Antonio or Sacramento, Calif.!

A recent article in this newspaper reveals the weaknesses we face if another BRAC (base realignment and closure) round is instituted. Someone wake up our “leaders,” please.

I am also tired of bailing out the development authority as we did in the last SPLOST. They owe our residents millions of dollars and just a bit of effort in grabbing some new industries here and now.

Not unlike many Georgia Bulldog fans, I rapidly tire of losses. In the same manner I tire of excuses for why other midstate counties can secure industries and distribution centers for their residents, but Houston County is left with excuses that don’t wash.

It is well past time for a victory or new county leadership.

The recent Bibb County election indicates its residents are forward looking. I suspect Houston County will become Bibb County’s laughingstock.

I am not laughing, are you?

David Wittenberg resides in Kathleen. Contact him at dkw460@yahoo.com.

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