09/21/05 — County will take control of EDC

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County will take control of EDC

By Turner Walston
Published in News on September 21, 2005 1:59 PM

The Wayne County Economic Development Commission will officially become a county department on Oct. 1, county commissioners decided at their meeting Tuesday.

The organization has been operating as a stand-alone, county-funded agency since the late 1980s and was most recently re-organized in 1997. The ordinance to make the commission a county department was approved unanimously.

"The overall mission of the EDC remains the same, so we don't anticipate any significant changes by officially becoming a county department," said Joanna Thompson, president of the Economic Development Commission. "The truth is, we already work so closely with the county manager and county commissioners in almost everything we do that the transition should be seamless. We look forward to continued support from the county."

County Manager Lee Smith said the move would help operations at the EDC by allowing the county to manage personnel and finance functions. "It's really going to streamline their activities so they can concentrate on recruitment and retention."

"I welcome the county's increased involvement and commitment," said Charles Gaylor, chairman of the EDC. "I hope that this move will generate positive results for economic development in Wayne County."

"I just see this as a further partnering," Smith said. "It should be viewed as a very positive step."

In other business Tuesday, commissioners approved Brandon Hall's request to re-zone .64 of an acre of land on the southeast corner of Mt. Carmel Church and Airport roads from light industry to heavy industry. Hall appeared before the board, requesting the change to expand his business, Steel Smart Inc.

Commissioners also discussed expanding the proposed sewer line that would connect Northwest Elementary School to the Pikeville sewer system. The current plan calls for a 6-inch line, but several commissioners expressed hope the line would be larger, allowing for further development in the northwest region of the county.

"We're looking at the possibilities of future growth in the area," Smith said. "Why not for smaller dollars, upsize if it's possible? I'm glad they're thinking ahead and working with the schools and the municipalities. We need to look at sewer for a lot of areas in Wayne County."

Commissioners also approved $20,000 for The Lighthouse of Wayne County, which assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, with the provision that they "keep a close watch on the management of those funds," Commissioner Andy Anderson said.

During the comment period, commissioners reminded citizens of the importance of emergency preparedness, in light of Hurricanes Katrina and Ophelia.

"The whole state was asked to conserve fuel," Commissioner Efton Sager said. "I really don't think we're out of the woods yet. I think we probably need to still recommend that we conserve fuel."

"I have complete confidence in our Emergency Services Department," Smith said. "It all comes down to pre-planning."

Residents should be prepared to provide for their families in the event of an emergency, county officials said.

"People have to prepare to do for themselves," Commissioner Atlas Price said. "The government can't do it all."