Lee projects signal economic reboot in county

LEESBURG, Ga. -- From ongoing commercial projects to initial steps taken to build a sports complex to a highly successful Great American Cleanup event, Lee County's Commission chairman said in his latest community update that there was plenty of good stuff going on in the county.

"National and state news is often negative and can leave one with a sense that things are not going very well," Lee Commission Chair Ed Duffy said in his update. "We are fortunate that, at least on the local level, things are going well in Lee County. The county continues to work to live within our budget and find ways to be more efficient with the funds that we are entrusted with.

"The county has been blessed with new commercial projects at the U.S. Highway 19 and Forrester Parkway intersection. The Board of Commissioners continues to look forward to planning new roads for the county, and initial discussions have taken place regarding planning for a new sports complex in the next five years. The county has a new logo, and the tag line is 'Life Works Well Here.' And it truly does."

Duffy referenced the road work scheduled to start soon around the downtown Leesburg Courthouse square and along the Robert B. Lee truck route, both of which are scheduled to be completed by the time the 2010-11 school year starts in the fall. He also noted that Lee County's 75 percent participation rate in the 2010 census count is above both state (65 percent) and national (67 percent) averages. It also tops Lee's 65 percent participation rate during the 2000 census.

Duffy also acknowledged the more than 100 volunteers who participated in the county's cleanup efforts Saturday. (Lee Code Enforcement officer Jim Wright said Monday the work resulted in collection of more than 4 tons of debris.) He updated citizens on two high-profile building projects in the county: the Smithville Fire/EMS Station and the Lee Animal Shelter.

The former project, Duffy said, is within budget and scheduled to be completed by June 20, while the latter -- financed in large part by orthopedist Dr. Phillip Hajek's Fifth Friday Foundation -- is near completion.

The commission chair also lauded the county's contract with Lee State Prison that provides inmate labor to assist the Public Works Department with litter and landscape projects. He noted in an update on the planned library branch/conference center off U.S. Highway 82 that plans should be completed by the end of April, bid invitations extended in the summer and construction started in August or September.

"This is certainly an exciting project and will serve the citizens of Lee County well for years to come," Duffy said.