I hope, as the 4th of July
approaches, you are able to reflect on our great nation as you spend time with your families. Ronald Reagan said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." I think we all hope to leave this world a better place, not only for the ones that we love but also for generations to come.
I am grateful that you have given me this opportunity to serve you, the citizens of Forsyth County. I have been very busy working to make improvements and save tax payer dollars. I would like to share some of these highlights with you:
1. Transportation - The Board of Commissioners voted to accelerate the widening of Mullinax Rd, two sections of Old Atlanta and Castleberry Roads. All have been in our transportation plans for quite awhile. Castleberry Rd was approved by the voters to be widened in SPLOST 5 over a decade ago. The county had already spent $10 million dollars on design and right of way before I got into office. It then fell into a political whirlwind and had not been done. It was the only project 'shovel-ready' and the state gave us a $1 million to help in its completion. Once it is a safer road, it will be a great alternate transportation route for people to choose. I've been in countless meetings with GDOT and I am hopeful that we will see improvements on state routes like 369 and 400 in our future. Our county road department has worked with me to get up a guardrail on Mark Lake Road, a widening at Martin Road for a right in and right out onto 9, safety features at Martin and Shadburn Roads, culvert replacement on Parks Road, and patching the pavement on Shadburn and Elmo Roads. There is more work that will be done in the future as we plan for safety and mobility on all of our roads.
2. Drug Awareness Council - I have worked hard with other elected officials to create a council to host drug summits to inform parents about the drug usage in Forsyth County. Judge Bagley and the drug court professionals, Sheriff Piper and his staff, Solicitor General Donna GoPaul, the school system's prevention specialist, local business leaders, non-profits and parents have all come together to create a great team effort to fight against drug usage and availability with awareness and education. We will host our third summit on August 19th at 7 pm
at the Forsyth Conference Center. Please try to attend. Each summit provides new information that help you be a better parent and a better community leader. We also were able to put away the "bad guys or gals" when we uncovered a fraudulent drug coalition in our county that had taken over $1.2 million from the federal government in grants. The mastermind behind it pled guilty. That's money we have saved taxpayers from being thrown away.
3. Forsyth County Beautification - I've received a lot of emails about the trash on our roadways and how can we make our county cleaner. You will see our plan roll out in the media in the next few weeks but we have a collaborative effort with our State Senator Jack Murphy and our Sheriff Duane Piper, along with me and county government, to have our prison inmates help alleviate our trash buildup on our highways. You will hear more on that in the near future. Also, I am working with community leaders and businesses along Ronald Reagan Parkway to do a landscaping project in the grass medians along that road to make it more inviting to the community. Northside Hospital and Blue Grass Quarry are leading the way in assistance to this project and I thank them.
4. Community Involvement in Areas of Concern in North Forsyth - I have been meeting with the principals at North Forsyth High School and at Chestatee Elementary to help understand why the graduation rate at North is dropping and what we can do to make it better. I have met with Browns Bridge and Mountain Lake Church leaders and am going beyond there to ask people to become mentors and to invest in the lives of these at-risk kids. Our community has to pull together to lift these kids up and to help them to connect so they won't drop out of school. We have a lot of ideas and plans coming. I would love to send you more information on becoming a mentor in this community or wherever you might live.
5. Committees - I am serving on the Finance Committee again this year and we have balanced the budget and kept our millage rate the same. Our county portion of the millage rate is one of the very lowest in the metropolitan area. I have worked diligently to cut out waste in our budget or to help identify a more efficient, less costly way of doing business. I have also tried to encourage better customer service and asked that all of our employees that work with the public wear a name badge for better identification. I serve on the Transportation Committee (as stated above) and on the Social Service Committee. I tried to help improve this committee by introducing ways to achieve more accountability and better communication with our agencies.
6. Parks - The ground breaking of the Matt Community Park should occur in the next couple of months and Lanierland to follow, around six months after that. It has been delayed during the design process, but I've been assured it is back on track and we will have two beautiful parks in our future. Eagle's Beak park in northwest Forsyth should have a canoe launch on the Etowah River with public restroom facilities and parking lot in the next few months as well.
7. Public Safety - We opened a new fire station on Wallace Tatum Road in 2013 and we should open our new fire station on Keith Bridge Road by next year. It will be a beautiful four bay station and will enhance the response time for our outstanding fire department.
8. Juvenile Justice - I have worked closely with Judge Jackson to assist in implementing the new state mandated juvenile justice system in our county. We have used all resources and received grants to help the county take over this job from the state at the most cost effective method possible.
9. Zonings - For almost 8 years our county suffered from little to no growth. The only number that soared statistically was the growth rate in welfare recipients in our county because so many depended on the construction industry for their survival. In 2013, things started to rebound. We had 22 zonings last year and it seemed like 2200 to those who had not been here prior to 2006. People went from seeing nothing to seeing all of the new and panic set in. Most everything being built today are things that were zoned in the mid-2000's but everyone blamed this current commission for decisions made by previous boards. My first month into office we had at least 12 RES4 applications come in so we revised the RES3 category to make it more attractive for development in hopes it would encourage less dense re-zonings and this was successful. The number of zoning requests have tapered off and the densities have come down as well. In the last 8 months our average density for a residential, non-age- restricted product, is at 2 units per acre. We have added requirements for traffic studies and made all site plans show creeks and waterways when submitting for rezoning. We are looking to break the monotony in developments with the addition of other residential categories and more street trees and landscaping. I strive to use all tools available in our UDC and in our state laws to provide a balance to all in making zoning decisions.
10. Miscellaneous - I have tried to answer every email and every call that has come to me. I work with every concern a citizen has and I try to find a solution. I was elected by my peers to serve as Vice-Chair this year on the commission. I was also asked to serve as vice-chair on the Governance Committee of ACCG which is a state wide organization of County Commissioners and I have held that position for two years.
Thank you again for your support. I'll try to update you more frequently in the future. If I can help you in any way, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call me at 770-781-2100
. It is my pleasure to serve the good people of Forsyth County. I ask for your prayers as I try to work with those who seem to have self serving motives. I try to focus on the important, meaningful things that I hope to accomplish for our county and leave the silly, mean-spirited, pettiness behind.
May God Bless America and Forsyth County!
Cindy Jones Mills
Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, Vice-Chair