Johnston County Commissioners held their first meeting of 2017 today (Tuesday). As customary, the Board Chairman gives the annual State of the County Address.
Chairman Jeff Carver began Tuesday’s address by thanking his fellow commissioners for appointing his as chairman in 2017 and welcoming the two newest members to the board, Keith Branch and Larry Wood.
Carver said there were three main objectives in 2017, “…facilitating continued job growth, supporting our education partners, and staying fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.”
“Let me first say that I am optimistic about the future of Johnston County. I am sure the recent split votes on certain decisions by this Board have been noticed, but I want everyone to know that we remain united in doing our part to make Johnston County even better than it already is. We have many great opportunities ahead of us in 2017 and beyond for Johnston County.”
“Even though 2016 was difficult at times, many good things happened. We worked closely with the Board of Education to increase funding for teacher supplements as we are proud of our teachers and thankful for their commitment to education. The County’s bond rating was upgraded by Moody’s last spring with the final sale of the 2013 bond referendum. Since 1999 Johnston County has had seven bond rating upgrades, and we are now one step away from our goal of a “AAA” rating which I have no doubt we will meet.”
“If you have driven by Novo Nordisk and Grifols recently, I am sure you have noticed the massive construction underway. Novo Nordisk and Grifols are two of the largest private employers and taxpayers in Johnston County. We appreciate their continued commitment to grow in Johnston County and will do everything we can to support their efforts along with every business in the County.”
“As mentioned, there were some difficult days in 2016. The CSX intermodal terminal project was a learning experience for us and I think we all learned valuable lessons. In the end, CSX will build their intermodal terminal down the road in the Rocky Mount area and we are thankful that the project remained in North Carolina. This project will greatly benefit our State and it is our belief that Johnston County will still see positive impacts from this project.”
“Hurricanes Fran and Floyd in the late 1990’s greatly impacted Johnston County, but I don’t believe anyone could have been prepared for Hurricane Matthew and the devastation it brought to our State and County in October of 2016. So many of our citizens are still dealing with the aftermath of this historic storm and we continue to pray for the families and businesses that lost everything. On the heels of Hurricane Matthew came a day of tragic accidents on Interstate 95 which created a hazardous materials incident that tested our public safety resources in Johnston County. I am very proud of our staff along with all the other public safety agencies in the County that responded to both events.”
“Looking to 2017, the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education have discussed needed renovation and repair projects primarily for our older schools that are estimated to cost as much as $30 million. We will be meeting soon with Johnston County Schools to determine the next steps in that process. I would ask that our Board commit to discussing and planning for a bond referendum in 2018 for both Johnston County Schools and Johnston Community College. Johnston County has a great track record of building and renovating educational facilities to meet growth and we must continue such projects.”
“As we all know, a proposed public safety center has been in discussion by both the past Board and current Board, specifically a location for a proposed center. While it appears that there are different opinions as to where a public safety center should be located, I want to make it very clear that the Board of Commissioners will work together as a team to do what is best for the County and the citizens. Please understand that decisions like this are difficult and may be unpopular, but I would ask for everyone’s patience as we work through the due diligence of such a project.”
“I believe that 2017 will be a great year for Johnston County and I hope we all can continue to work together to promote job growth, support our education partners and remain fiscally sound.”