Candidate pushes Grand Island improvements

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Meeting with media representatives at the Lee County-owned Grand Island Club -- a facility he called "a diamond in the rough" -- Lee County Commission candidate Lester Leggette called Friday for additional investment at the golf/tennis complex he'd once sought to remove from county control.

"The idea of selling Grand Island has been put to rest; we own it now," Leggette said at a hastily called morning news conference. "After further investigation, my mind's been changed about the club. Through (former general manager) Vic's (McKinley), (club administrator) Paige's (Etheredge) and their staff's hard work, things are better here now.

"But like any expensive asset that's doing OK, it could be doing even better. We can build on the base we've got here and market, market, market it hard. And instead of building an expensive conference center out (U.S. Highway) 82, we could have built one here."

Leggette, a former member of the appointed Lee County Utilities Authority, is trying to unseat incumbent Lee Commission Chairman Ed Duffy for the District 3 Commission seat.

Duffy offered no comment about Leggette's news conference Friday afternoon.

"I wasn't there, and it would be impossible for me to comment on something I didn't hear," he said.

Leggette said cloning outgoing County Administrator Alan Ours would be the best solution to replacing Ours, but he said he should be involved in the process of finding a new administrator if he wins Tuesday's Republican primary.

"Replacing Alan Ours is one of the biggest decisions the county will make," Leggette said. "Alan has been a huge asset to this county, and replacing him should involve a lot of investigating, a lot of interviews. Cloning Alan is probably the best thing we could do.

"But I have some contacts that could help with the process, so I hope I'm involved."

Leggette said future infrastructure improvements will be needed to upgrade the county's insurance rating, but he admitted it would be difficult to add services without increasing taxes.

"The next time we add water lines, we need to make sure we include hydrants," he said. "And we need to find funding to bring on more fire and EMS personnel.

"But it's going to be hard to add services and not increase taxes. We can start by not taking expensive trips for meetings 100 miles away. We have to tighten our belts to provide more services."

Leggette was referencing a County Commission retreat held earlier this year at Calloway Gardens.