Georgia County Government - Fall 2013 - (Page 26)

COUNTY FEATURE Oglethorpe County: Focusing on the Benefits of Protecting Rural Roots By Noble Sprayberry >> We’ve grown slowly over time, but there are benefits to that. If something grows slowly, it is usually built to last because it’s structurally more stable. -Oglethorpe County Planning Director Josh Hawkins 26 Oglethorpe County intends to market itself while balancing two potentially conflicting goals: protect a rural, agricultural way of life while promoting economic development. Creating an honest, realistic brand represents one step to finding that balance, a process driven by community input and one resulting in a distinct take on marketing a county. “If you don’t identify what you want, then you’ll get people who might not necessarily fit into your county,” said County Commission Chairman Billy Pittard. “So, our branding process isn’t your typical marketing scheme.” The county hired Nashville-based North Star Destination Strategies this year to help develop a branding strategy, an $84,000 effort set for completion in 2014. “It’s not marketing what you’re trying to attract as much as it is identifying what you’re not trying to attract,” Pittard said. “You want to make sure the people who come to the community fit. That’s for their benefit as well as the community’s benefit.” The philosophy evolved from community meetings and surveys identifying the need to grow the county’s economic base without changing the rural lifestyle. “Those two things are not exactly synonymous with one another, at first glance, but I think they can be,” Pittard said. A Proudly Rural County Oglethorpe County Planning Director Josh Hawkins, like many residents, embraces the culture and image of the county. He compares the county’s pace to the growth rate of one of the community’s claims to fame: The Oglethorpe Oak, a rare tree species discovered within the county in 1947. An example of the tree lives on the courthouse lawn in downtown Lexington. “We’ve grown slowly over time, but there are benefits to that,” he said. “If something grows slowly, it is usually built to last because it’s structurally more stable,” he said. “I do believe there’s a strong analogy between the growth of an oak tree, the Oglethorpe Oak GEORGIA COUNTY GOVERNMENT Oglethorpe County is working to balance the protection of its rural history with economic development and seeking to attract individuals and businesses that seek a similar quality of life. Photo by Harry Hayes. in particular, and the slow-growing, deliberate growth of the county.“ About 14,500 people live in Oglethorpe County, a stretch of 441 square miles about 70 miles east of Atlanta. The community was established in 1793 and named after General James Edward Oglethorpe, who founded the colony of Georgia 60 years earlier. In addition to the county seat of Lexington, the county is home to three municipalities: Arnoldsville, Maxeys and Crawford, which is the largest town with about 800 people. “The population we have is widely distributed,” Hawkins said. “It’s low-density, and it’s meant to be low-density.”

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - Fall 2013

President’s Message
Director’s Desk
UGA’s Archway Partnership: Empowerment for Georgia’s Communities
Oglethorpe County: Focusing on the Benefi ts of Protecting Rural Roots
Eliminating Risks: LGRMS Celebrates 25 Years
Where Do We Stand? One Year after Georgia’s Criminal Justice Reform
Understanding the Impacts of Juvenile Justice Reform
New Jail Facilities: Counties Focus on New Technology and Capacity to Expand
2013 Legislative Service Award Recipients
Hospital Survival: Informed County Commissioners Can Preserve Local Health Care
Federal New: More Gridlock and Uncertainty May Be Expected in Washington for FY 2014
Slice by Slice: Students Learn About the Signifi cance of Agriculture on Pizza Farms
Talking Trees with Georgia’s County Commissioners
Partner News: Value at the Heart of the Unique Gas South-ACCG Partnership
Commercial Swimming Pool Renovations Do’s and Don’ts
Counties & The Law: The Supreme Court, the Voting Rights Act and Georgia Counties
Legal News: Bidding in Georgia: What to Do When the Lowest
Conference Preview: Legislative Leadership
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers

Georgia County Government - Fall 2013