Governor taps Royal to head Jekyll Island Authority

ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal has picked former state representative Richard Royal to head up the Jekyll Island Authority.

Royal, of Camilla, was reappointed to the board in August but was recently named the board chair.

"It's a real honor for me to be appointed to this position," Royal said via phone on his way back from Atlanta Thursday. "We have a lot of good things going on and I'm glad I can continue to be a part of it."

Royal and the Jekyll Island Authority, or JIA, are overseeing new developments on Jekyll that include a recently-completed conference center and two new hotels that will break ground early next year.

"We have some really ambitious plans," Royal said.

Despite some concerns from environmentalists that the JIA is eroding the natural appeal of the barrier island, Royal made it a point to mention that the group is barred by law from developing more than 35 percent of the island.

"If we build something, it's because we've torn something else down and are building over it," Royal said.

The Florida Times-Union reported Thursday that Royal is replacing Bob Krueger of Hawkinsville as chairman. Krueger was appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2008 after two years on the board.

Royal's term as a board member will expire in 2016. His term as chairman will expire next year.

According to the JIA website, the authority was created by the General Assembly "to oversee the conservation and development of the Island. The Authority board consists of members appointed by the governor to serve four-year terms. The chairman of the board is also appointed by the governor to serve a one-year term."

Royal says that the board is working to make sure that the new development is economically friendly as well as environmentally friendly.

"We want to keep Jekyll Island affordable for the average Georgian," Royal said.