MONROE — Walton County’s mayors all took some time to, as Monroe Mayor Greg Thompson said, “brag on” their respective cities at the Walton County Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the Cities meeting Wednesday.
Ashley Blackstone, the newly minted mayor of Between, mostly restricted her comments to saying hello to the crowd.
“I’m basically here to introduce myself as I was just sworn in last night,” Blackstone said. “I am proud to serve the city.”
Blackstone did focus on some of the future plans for the city, however, especially some new construction on the horizon.
“We plan to start building the new Town Hall soon,” she said.
Mayor Jimmy Guthrie of Good Hope emphasized the new personnel on and off the city council and said the city was facing similar changes.
“The face of Good Hope has changed in the last few months,” he said. “We’ve grown more than 34 percent since 2000.”
Guthrie said the city’s finances were sound and much of the city’s physical improvements were coming out of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax fund.
“We continue to use SPLOST money to improve our city,” Guthrie said. “We’ve built new sidewalks and will expand them to Highway 83. We’re continuing to upgrade our City Hall and plan to start improving our city park as well.”
Dan Curry, mayor of Loganville, praised the many people on staff and on the council for their work in making the city a better place.
“Great things happen in Loganville,” Curry said. “The people here are proud to make them happen.”
Curry also emphasized the city’s improving economy, as building permits and business licenses are on the rise.
“Loganville is rebounding,” Curry said. “We’re expanding our sewer system and doing what we can to enhance Loganville and bring in more businesses.”
Mayor Greg Thompson of Monroe set the overall tone with his comments.
“I’d like to take the time to brag on the city of Monroe,” he said. “I’m so proud of this city.”
Thompson discussed many of the city’s accomplishments in the past year, from a new zoning code and increase in home construction to upgraded utilities and the expanded sidewalks.
“Throughout the city, we’ve increased walkability with the expanded sidewalks,” he said. “When that is done, we’ll do the same on North Broad Street.”
Thompson also praised the Monroe Police Department’s adoption of body cameras.
“We all know how important these have become today,” the mayor said. “Since we’ve started using body cameras, citizen complaints have decreased 62 percent.”
Thompson praised the city’s workers for all such achievements.
“You don’t get these sort of accomplishments across the board without dedicated effort,” Thompson said.
Hal Dally, mayor of Social Circle, began his comments with anticipation of the under-construction Social Circle bypass.
“Welcome from the southern end of Walton County,” Dally said. “We’ve been saying that for a long time, but with the bypass opening, we’ll be the southern gateway for all of Walton County.”
Dally emphasized Social Circle as the center of the county’s industrial corridor, from the Stanton Springs industrial park to the megasite the city on which has partnered with Newton County.
“We’re ready to develop this site,” Dally said. “We just have to make sure we do it right.”
The bypass will also emphasize that focus on industry in the city.
“When the bypass opens, it will open up that side of Social Circle,” Dally said. “All the industry in Social Circle has been hidden on that corridor and now people will see these businesses. We are going to be the industrial base for Walton County.”
Lamar Lee, mayor of Walnut Grove, finished out the comments for the day, leading off with the near-completion of the city’s long-held dream.
“Our wastewater facility and sewer will be ready in August,” Lee said. “We have several new businesses coming at this time and a new county fire station coming soon.”
Lee said the city is perhaps most pleased with its biggest addition of the past few years, Walnut Grove High School.
“We are really proud of our high school,” Lee said.
The final mayor in Walton County, Jersey Mayor Randy Carithers, was unable to make the event.