Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 12

FEATURE FOCUS "When I left, I was the president of the carpet division with $52 million in sales," he said. "Then, I didn't do anything for a year except play golf." Lyon, though, had no interest in retirement, and when he learned that Athens Technical College wanted to create an Elbert County campus, he was interested. "I just went over there and told them I wanted to work part-time, and I've been part-time there for going on 18 years." It's a role that takes advantage of his years in manufacturing. He works with the school to provide classes designed to meet the needs of specific manufacturers. "I set up customized training programs, go find them a teacher, set up the number of hours and so forth," he says. Furthering his service to the county and its residents, Lyon is now serving his third term on the Elbert County Commission. "The county was in pretty bad financial shape and I liked working with numbers," he said. "I felt like I could give something back." His father also once served on a city council, so he knew a little about the rigors of public office. But while his years in business provided a good foundation, he realized he had to adapt. "The hardest part is knowing you can't make all the decisions by yourself," he said. "I  came from a private business, and if I wanted to make a change, I made it. Now you have five commissioners who you have to convince the change is good." Under Lyon, the commission has faced the tough challenges necessary to guide the county to stable financial ground. "The biggest thing we tried to do was to ask not what's good for the individual, but ask what's good for the county as a whole," he said. "A lot of what we ran into was that preferential treatment was being given, and there was a good ol' boy network. But, we sort of took that out of the equation." When the county commissioners looked at the big picture, they began making hard decisions. For example, they reduced the staff from about 160 employees to around 140 employees, and they had to make adjustments to the retirement program. However, Lyon said the staff did not lose faith in either the commission or the county. "We're running pretty efficiently right now," Lyon said. A Rural Heritage About 20,000 people live in Elbert County, which covers about 274 square miles between 12 GEORGIA COUNTY GOVERNMENT Interstate 85 to the north and Interstate 20 to the south. There are two cities in the county: Elberton and Bowman. Many residents travel for work, said Bowman Mayor Pete Gibbons. "It's vital we have some growth, because at the moment most of our jobs are in the Athens area or over in South Carolina," he said. "People work elsewhere and they spend their money somewhere else, and that leaves us in a tough spot. It's vital for us to grow to help stabilize home prices." The county and city leaders often work closely, recognizing the need to support the greater good, Gibbons said. "We have a small city and we don't have the resources of the big cities," he said. "We rely on cooperation with our county government, and that's been a big help in getting things done." When it comes to jobs, every new business helps the entire county. For example, in 2010 Moller Tech opened a plant to make injection-molded plastic parts for a range of auto manufacturers. The German company invested nearly $10 million on a plant that now employs 200 people. Similarly, Hailo USA spent $10 million to open a plant in 2012 to create components for wind turbines. The business, also headquartered in Germany, now employs about 45 people. One success can often lead to additional businesses becoming interested in a community. "As a matter of fact, after we got Moller Tech, the owners helped us influence Hailo to settle here," Lyon said. The county also has natural resources upon which it can build. For example, two lakes, Clarks Hill and Richard B. Russell, provide a draw for visitors and welcome retreats for residents. But it's another natural landmark Elbert County is known as the Granite Capitol of the World. Six million tons of the natural resource exist in the county. that gives the county its nickname: The Granite Capital of the World. The Elberton Granite Association, Inc., founded in 1951, represents the local industry. The trade association consists of more than 150 members, mostly made of granite quarries and manufacturers. The county includes a granite deposit that is about 35 miles long, six miles wide and as much as three miles deep thanks to a flow of molten rock 325 million years ago. The result is about six million tons of granite, or enough to fill the Rose Bowl nearly two million times, according to the association. At its peak, the industry represented about 9,600 jobs, but it has dropped to about 7,800 workers, Lyon said. "And believe it or not, the increase in the number of cremations has hurt the granite industry," he said. While the granite industry will long remain a staple for the community, the goal is to The Elberton Granite Museum and Exhibit is home to natural landmark in which the Elbert County gets its nickname.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - Summer 2016

President’s Message
Director’s Desk
Cover Story: Growth and Opportunity in Elbert County
Georgia Counties Get Results in ACCG’s Policy Areas
Insights from Georgia’s Congressman Lynn Westmoreland
Making Strides for Healthy Communities
Preparing for the Zika Virus in Georgia
Georgia Public Libraries Shine
Counties Emerge into the Digital Age
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - cover1
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - cover2
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 3
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 4
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 5
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 6
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 7
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - President’s Message
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Director’s Desk
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Cover Story: Growth and Opportunity in Elbert County
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 11
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 12
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 13
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 14
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 15
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Georgia Counties Get Results in ACCG’s Policy Areas
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 17
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 18
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 19
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Insights from Georgia’s Congressman Lynn Westmoreland
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 21
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Making Strides for Healthy Communities
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 23
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 24
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 25
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Preparing for the Zika Virus in Georgia
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 27
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Georgia Public Libraries Shine
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 29
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 30
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 31
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Counties Emerge into the Digital Age
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 33
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 34
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 35
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 36
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - News & Notes
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Index of Advertisers
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - cover3
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - cover4
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