Organizational leaders meet to assess Valdosta community

Dozens of community leaders gathered on Aug. 26 for a Community Assessment Committee meeting, held at the Valdosta City Hall Annex Multi-Purpose Room.

The Community Assessment Committee was formed by Valdosta Mayor John Gayle and Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter in January 2013 at a time when quite a lot of community organizations were experiencing top leadership transitions. With several new people in key leadership roles, the city and county's top leaders felt the Community Assessment Committee would form the necessary relationships while also addressing current and future community-building needs.

At the recent meeting, Valdosta Mayor Gayle and Lowndes County Chairman Slaughter thanked attendees for their collective commitment to building a better community. Topics discussed at the meeting were:

The committee heard from SPLOST Committee Chair Suzan Prince whose presentation emphasized a community project list of needs that she is hopeful will be funded through the continuation of the one-cent sales tax. Prince described the SPLOST as an "investment" that voters may choose to make at the polls during the Nov. 5 election. She encouraged all citizens to spread the truth about the impact of SPLOST at civic and other organizational meetings and throughout their circles of influence. Voter registration ends on Oct. 7, and early voting will begin Oct. 14.

Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordinator Corey Hull described a new effort to build the community through the Lowndes County Common Community Visionâ"an opportunity for local governments and agencies to cooperatively develop a community-wide vision statement and goals that will guide future planning efforts. The coordinated process will tie the current and future plans of community partners into one vision statement. Hull explained that the general public will also be invited to provide their input on key essentialsâ"such as transportation, development, technology, etc.â"that make up our community and plans for its future.

Mediacom Director of Area Operations Melanie Hannasch and Senior Sales Manager Darryl Chaney gave an update on Mediacom's forthcoming plans to speed up of the broadband services in our area. The company representatives shared information about the Hybrid Fiber/Coax network that will, within the next 60 days, offer up to 105 megabits per second on the download and 20 megabits per second on the upload--something competitive with what is offered in larger cities and vital to our community's economic development. The company currently provides 50 megabits per second to its customers.

"I am pleased, but not surprised, by the commitment displayed by the Community Assessment Committee members," said Mayor Gayle. "The organizations represented on this new committee are ones who have contributed to the sustained the growth and prosperity of our community. It only makes sense that we would continue these discussions to ensure we are addressing key issues and moving our community in a positive direction for the benefit of our businesses, industries and citizens."

The committee plans to meet again in October.