The main dining hall of Bevricks was filled to capacity Thursday as members of the local community gathered for the annual State of the Community Breakfast. Attendees heard updates from the State Legislature; Candler County; City of Metter; Candler County Hospital; Candler County Industrial Authority; and Candler County Board of Education. The meeting was highlighted by the recognition of the graduating ConnectCandler Class and the introduction of the 2017-18 Youth Leadership Candler Class, as well as the unveiling of the 2017-18 Candler County Magazine. Taking part in Thursday’s program were (l-r) State Representative Butch Parrish; State Senator Jack Hill; Mayor Billy Trapnell; Hospital COO Dave Flanders; County Commission Chair Glyn Thrift; Industrial Authority Executive Director Molly Olson; Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Victoria Gaitten; Board of Education Chair Craig Lanier; Chamber Leadership Committee Chair Amy Harrelson; and Steven Snell, who unveiled the community magazine on behalf of Snell Press.
From all reports, the State of the Community is currently positive overall.
That was the message shared by local and area officials during the annual State of the Community Breakfast held on Thursday morning at Bevricks.
State Senator Jack Hill opened the morning’s updates by speaking about what’s happening at the state level.
“There is a real interest at the state level to learn what we can do to help Georgia succeed,” he said. “The state is doing really well and we have the best economy in the country according to CNBC.”
State Representative Butch Parrish then spoke, highlighting the state’s Rural Development Council, which was formed to improve the quality of life in rural communities. One of the council’s meetings, on the subject of healthcare, was held in Metter in September, Parrish said.
Overall, he said, “Georgia continues to be the No. 1 state, so we must be doing something right.”
County Commission Chair Glyn Thrift spoke about the upcoming SPLOST referendum. He told the audience that 20 percent of the next SPLOST proceeds will go to satisfy the debt incurred by the county on behalf of the hospital.
For 2017, Thrift said, the county also had a balanced budget, on time, for the first time in many years.
Looking ahead, he said, “We have two options, to meet the future or die.” Using the analogy of keeping the fork after the meal for dessert, he then encouraged the audience to hang on to their forks, “because the best is yet to come.”
Mayor Billy Trapnell then shared the state of the city, highlighting the impact of two hurricanes in less than two years and their impact the storms had on the community and its resources.
He then spoke of the city’s first tax increase in a number of years. “It is vital that we grow our way out of the current recession,” he said.
Trapnell, who did not seek re-election for 2018, also took time to thank the community.
“What a privilege and honor it has been to serve as your mayor,” he said. “This is truly a wonderful community ... We are often neighbors or friends who may see things differently but have the same goal, making Metter even better. Let’s continue to do it together, finding common ground to work side by side.”
As he spoke Board of Education Chairman Craig Lanier talked of the 91.69% graduation rate for the local school system.
“The opportunities for our children are improving,” he said. But, he added, there is still work to be done. “On state tests, our passing rate is above the state level, but our ‘exceeding’ rate is not where we want it to be.”
Dave Flanders, COO of Candler County Hospital, then spoke about the hospital.
“We are striving for excellence in the ER and on the nursing floor,” he said. He also spoke of the hospital’s recent acquisition of St. Joseph’s/Candler Medical Group, which will benefit the hospital.
“We have had slow, but steady financial improvement over the past three years and increased efficiency,” he said.
Flanders then encouraged the audience to help the hospital by using the facility, utilizing the Georgia Tax Credit and promoting the hospital.
Industrial Authority Executive Director Molly
Olson then provided a powerpoint with an overview of industrial efforts in the community.
She emphasized that in addition to recruiting new business, it is her goal to continue to work closely with existing industry to help them meet their needs.
Amy Harrelson introduced the Youth Leadership Class, including Alaina Waters, Johnna Goodman, Jenna Mosley, Mary Ruth Berry, Kristen Crooms, Laney Tootle, Maci Nease, Tatum Taylor, Heston Mosley and JT Osborne. She also presented participation plaques to graduating ConnectCandler members, including Tina Crooms, Jessica Spears, Dustin Vernon, Jason Douglas, Virgil Meridy, Allen Cason, Rose Marie Burke and Audra Lee.