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Concerns of Bulloch County resident Ruth Green

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Note: Bulloch County native, retired Georgia Southern professor and community activist Ruth Green addressed the Bulloch County Commission with a list of her concerns at the Commission meeting of May 2, 2017. The following is what Ms. Green gave commissioners prior to the meeting and the Development Authority of Bulloch County summarizing many of her concerns.

 

I have compiled and composed questions asked and situations of concern by many citizens of Bulloch County.  This information is categorized and documented.  The questions were sent to Mr. Benjamin Thompson of the Bulloch County Development Authority for answers.  The questions were presented at the May 2, 2017 Buloch County Board of Commissioners meeting.  

 

We, the people of Bulloch County are alive, caring and are now more and more active, more aware that all of government must again be OF, FOR, and ABOUT the people rather than the few; the politicians and those whose special interests are often self-promoting.  ALL actions of government MUST be transparent and understood by all citizens.  

 

Mostly, locally, we know each other or can know each other and actions have more immediate compacts.  We elect people we think are like us and will insure and protect our values and beliefs and consider the people rather than rubber stamp what is of more value to the few rather than the majority.

 

That said, we, the people of Bulloch County are awakened.   We are alarmed.   We have recently elected two new county commissioners and a new chairman of the Bulloch County Commissioners;  we look forward to our Bulloch County governed openly and transparently so that any and every citizen may ask questions and receive  answers from informed, elected and appointed government officials as well as any group receiving county money as well as any individual of that group.

 

Our concerns as of this date in 2017 are many.  We see and hear ideas of vast changes by a few which benefit a few.  We read and hear a lot of disruptive ideas; much we have heard previously, which have minimal to no advantage to the people of Bulloch County, 

 

Questions have been posed to the Bulloch County Commissioners, the County Manager and any and everybody we thought might have answers as to concerns in the governance of Bulloch County getting few if any answers.  It seems detailed information has not been given to them as there is little to no paper trail of details found; therefore, citizens have not been answered. Many and most of the questions of concern seem to stem from actions and statements from the Bulloch County Development Authority so these questions and more are now being posed for answers and explanations.

 

We would like to know more about Mr. Benjamin Thompson of the Bulloch County Development Authority and the actions of the Development Authority.  Much research has been done on the internet to find his background and professional profile.  Some information has been located but not a consistent and/or yearly account which would be helpful for us all to know.  

 

 

 

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                                                                                                                                    PROFESSIONAL PROFILE:  BENJAMIN THOMPSON

 

The  George-Anne article October 4, 2014 stated:

 

He was an undergraduage at Georgia Southern University from 1984 - 1990.

 

            1. What was his major of study?

            2.  What was his degree?

 

He then went to the University of South Carolina for law school returning to Statesboro

each summer to work in a Statesboro  law office.

 

            1.Which Statesboro law firm did he work with?

            2, Is he  a licensed lawyer to practice law?

            3. In which states is he  licensed to practice law?

 

A few years later he returned to Statesboro as a business professor in COBA  (College of Business Administration)

            Was he  a full professor?

            Did he teach as full load?

            What did he teach?

 

He then studied and received his MBA  degree from Georgia Southern

 

            What year did he receive the MBA?

 

He taught at Georgia Southern for 12 years

 

            What did he teach?

            From --------   year   to -------- year?

 

He had several other jobs

            What other jobs did he work during this time span?

 

He  joined  Economic Development Authority  and changed the name to  Bulloch County Development Autority December 10, 2010

 

            Was this job an appointment or did he  apply for this employment?

 

He  gave himself the title Chief Executive Officer of the Bulloch County Development Authority

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                        Page  3                                                                                                                                                                        A CEO is usually defined as Chief Executive Officer of a corporation.  The Bulloch County Development Authority has two employees, Mr. Thompson  and Rachel Barnswell, Secretary 

 

                        What is he Chief Executive Officer of ?

 

 AFFILLIATED ORGANIZATIONS: 

 

February 10, 2012  Governor Deal appointed him to:

 

            The Board of Trustees of the Herty Advanced Material Center in Savannah formerly          Savannah Pulp  and Paper Laboratory (1932) renamed Herty Advanced Matrials                      Center at Dr. Herty’s Death (1938)

 

                        Is he  currently a trustee of Herty Materials Center, 2017

                        Is this a paid position?

                        What salary is paid?

 

                        Chair of the Middle Coastal Unified Development Authority

                        Is he  currently Chair?

                        What does MCUDA  do?

                        Are  he and Paul Roesel currently on this board of directors?

 

            At the February  7, 2017 Board of Commissioners meeting the Commissioners

             were asked to authorize his reappointment  to the MCUDA. Commissioner Walt Gibson asked County Manager that  Bulloch County  what the MCUDA  did.  Mr. Couch told me he answered to Commissioner Gibson that Bulloch County  has been represented on this authority for a     number of years.(Mr. Thompson began in February, 2012)  There was no detailed information provided yet.

 

  I asked Mr. Couch what was the benefit to Bulloch County to belong to MCUDA and he told me “not much”,  he did not think they met often and he had seen nothing they have done.  I asked Mr. Couch if he told Mr. Gibson that  and he said no; the  commissioners signed to reappoint  Mr. Thompson. We  do not know why we should be represented on this board.

 

                        Why was Mr. Thompson  not at the Commissioner’s meeting to ask for his                               reappointment and to have questions answered before signing?

 

                        Why is Bulloch County membership on this board of interest  and/or value  

                          except to embellish a resume?

 

            Chair of the Coastal Georgia Regional Water Council

 

                        What does this council do?

                        What did MrThompson do for Coastal Georgia when the Ogeechee River                           was polluted with huge fish kill?

                        Is  Mr. Thompson  currently on this board?

                        What position?

                        What is Mr. Thompson doing to insure the water shed of Coastal Georgia is

                        maintained   and protected?

 

                                                                                                                                      Page         4

 

 

Coastal Area District Development Authority

 

                        The Coastal Area District Development Authority’s website states

                       this is a private organization separate from the Coastal Area District 

                        Development Authority from Brunswick with offices in Savannah, Ga. 

 

                        From the minutes of the May 21, 2013 meeting of the BCBC the               commissioners  were asked to approve two seats to the Coastal Area 

                        District Development Authority  ( Exhibit #2013-051).  Bulloch County

                        Representatives on the Coastal Area District Development Authority 

                        are Carolyn Ethridge and Bryan Burke.  

 

What is the Greater Savannah Regional Alliance Industrial Development Authority?

 

            I found this mentioned but no information about it.

 

The Savannah Harbor - Interstate 16 Joint Development Authority

 

May 12, 2015   in an article in the Savannah Morning News  by Mary Carr entitled “Getting Ready to Compete”,Mr. Thompson said,  “We’re very pleased and excited to join with our neighboring counties to leverage the Port of Savannah and the I-16 corridor for new business.  Our combined efforts through this authority will allow our counties to bring all of our resources to bear on large projects that will bring opportunities to all of our citizens,”

 

How  has or does Bulloch County benefit  from membership in these Authorities?

Please give us real and actual examples of benefits?

Please not public relations thoughts and could be benefits.

 

Do any of the Authorities listed pay members of their board of directors?

If  they do pay, what are their stipends?

 

Is the Buloch County Development Authority  a member or associated with any other authority board or group than those listed above?    If so, please list them and what role they play or may play benefiting the people of Bulloch County..

 

It is difficult to find information entitled Statesboro/Bulloch or Bulloch County Development Authority.  One finds a bit here, a bit there, trying to combine information 

for  complete picture has taken a vast amount of time and research. 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                          INDUSTRIAL PARKS

 

 

On the website STATESBORO BULLOCH COUNTY   Development Authority of Bulloch County and Statesboro - Chamber or Commerce

 

BULLOCH BULLETS:    INDUSTRIAL PARKS  are listed as three places.

 

            1.  Gateway Regional Industrial Park I and II

                        a. Approximately 1,000 acres

                        b. Occupant companies

                                    Walmart

                                    Briggs & Stratton

                                    Great Dane

 

            2. Perimeter Center Park 

                        a. Office park  for commercial tenants 

 

            3. Airport Industrial Park

                        a. A 6,000  ft. runwy

                        b. A. 4,381 ft. runway

 

Indiustry is defined  as economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufactured goods in factories.

 

Gateway I and II occupants seem to process materials and/or  manufacture goods.

 

Perimeter Center Park, established in 1989, is a group of offices.  The  State of Georgia

owns the adjoining property, this area will not expand.

 

            How can this be described as an industrial park?

 

Airport Industrial Park has offices, hangers for planes and two runways.

 

            How can this be described as an industrial pak?

 

On the website STATESBORO BULLOCH COUNTY   Development Authority of Bulloch County / Statesboro Chamber of Commerce 

BULLOCH BULLETS :   EXISTING INDUSTRIES

 

            Why is the headline GEORGIA IS HOME TO 440 FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES

                     (20 FORTUNE 500 HEADQUARTERS)?

 

            How does this pertain to Statesboro and Bulloch County?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                        GATEWAY INDUSTRIAL PARK

 

 

Some of the companies  listed are in Gateway Industrial Park, some are housed throughout Bulloch County.  Consulting  Bulloch County Assistant Manager, Andy Welch, it was learned: 

 

Gateway Industrial Part was established in the early 1990’s.

As listed on the website with the dates established in Gateway provided by Mr. Welch in parentheses.

 

            Briggs & Stratton  (1995)  500 plus employees .  1.1 million engines annually

 

            Great Dane Trailers (2010 contact date)  will produce 5000 refrigerated trailers                                     annualy

 

            Viracon (1996)  glass fabricator

                                    closed for renovation 2006  reopened 2012 

 

            Walmart (1994)  Walmart Distribution is the first company in Gateway I

 

            H. A.  Sack  established in Statesboro in 1945 - moved to Gateway 1999.

                        Commercial/ industrial contractor of electrical, plumbing, construction and

                                    maintenance services

 

Scattered throughout Bulloch County and City of Statesboro:

 

            Loxscreen -  opening in 1965 -- located in Brooklet, Ga.

 

            Brodie International -             located here after Honeywell in same buildings.

                        N. Highway 301.  Make meters and valves

 

            East Georgia Medical Center - Formerly Memorial Hospital in Statesboro

                        now on S. Fair Road

                                    How is a hospital an industry?

 

All of these businesses were established and operating before  Mr. Thompson became  affiliated with the Development Authority of Bulloch County.  We do not  know  the circumstances and obligations that any or all of them have to Bulloch County regrding their contracts and/ or perks, if any, they  received from the Bulloch County Development Authority when they moved to Gateway Industrial Park  except Great Dane.

 

It does seem Walmart, Viracon, Briggs & Stratton post their number of employees,  what they do,  jobs available,  salaries paid.  

 

We do have the Great Dane Contract,  written by Franklin, Taulbee, Rushing, Snipes and Marsh, LLC law firm August 20, 2010.  

 

 On August 17, 2010 The Statesboro Herald ran headlines “GREAT DAY FOR JOBS - GREAT DANE CREATING 400 JOBS WITH NEW PLANT IN BULLOCH”.  The company will utilize the Georgia Quick Start, equiping the work force with the skills they need to operate the plant on the day it opens” 

                                                                                                                                    Page      7

 

On August 17, 2010, then Chamber of Commerce director Chapman told the Herald Great

Dane had requested negotiations be kept in confidence as it did not want every bank, realtor and other agencies bothering them”.

 

 It seems all perks and advantages were given Great Dane with Bulloch County, through the Development Authority giving  whatever Great Dane wished, even to free country club membership, athletic sports package of 10 tickets to football, basketball, baseball.

 

Great Dane left their offices in  Savannah so all sales and sales taxes go through  and to Savannah.  Bonds for building and land went through Bulloch Development Authority with no  costs to building permits.

 

It seems Great Dane still wishes to operate out of the public eye.   

 

The PEOPLE naturally thought -- 400 jobs coming to Bulloch County meant 400 Bulloch citizens had a chance for a high paying job....... not so,  the contract reads ---- 400 from “the community”.

 

We have never known how many Bulloch County citizens actually work at Great Dane. 

I called and asked how many Great Dane employees were from Bulloch County and nearby...... it was  not known.  I stated many people from Bulloch County had asked about  applying for a job at Great Dane and were told they could apply but there were at least 150 ahead of them.

 

I asked how many FORMER EMPLOYEES OF GREAT DANE FROM SAVANNAH WERE EMPLOYED AT GREAT DANE STATESBORO....I  was asked ---- IF YOU WERE RUNNING A BUSINESS, WOULDN’T YOU HIRE PEOPLE WHO WERE ALREADY TRAINED?   I told him NO --- not if I promised 400 jobs.

 

The most  employees from Bulloch County or nearby we have found is 38.  Yet,  the law firm and  and Mr. Thompson, continue to say,  Great Dane provided 400 jobs and implemented Quick Start at Ogeechee Tech to train people for Great Dane.

 

I checked with Ogeechee Tech in 2013 and asked when Quick Start Classes for Great Dane were held ------- was told Great Dane had to ask for the classes and they had not asked.

 

Checked with Ogeechee Tech last week and was told no Quick Start Classes for Great Dane had been held as the welding class at Ogeechee Tech was of high standard.

 

            So---- WHY,   does Mr. Thompson, continue to laud Quick Start Classes 

            being implemented at Ogeechee Tech due to Great Dane?

 

There is a  Community Goals Table in the Great Dane contract  for a 5 year average.

 

            Year 1           100 jobs  (2012)

                      2            200

                      3            250

                      4            400

                      5            400

                                                                                                                                    Page        8

 

Great  Dane started production 2012.  After asking the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners in March, how many local people were employed at Great  Dane and receiving no answer, Tom Couch , Bulloch County Manager was asked if he knew the a

answer.  He did not.  He then sent an email to Mr. Thompson,  April 26, 2013 asking :  “Have we received any Community Investment Reports from Great Dane?  Just 

would like to make sure they are toeing the line”.  

 

Mr. Thompson wrote back May 2, 2013 to Mr. Couch:

 

Thanks for this email.  The short answer is no - I haven’t received, nor have I requested, the Annual Report from Great Dane.   Your email is a great reminder of my oversight, and I’ll request this from the company today, citing the language of the MOU and the February 1st deadline that has passed.”

 

QUESTION:  Was  this required annual information received in 2013 and all years after?

 

                        Was the report  filed on time or months late anytime other than 2013?

 

                        What penalities as stated in the contract were elicited from Great Dane for

                            late reporting?                                          

 

In The Statesboro Herald,  August 23. 2015 ,  I again asked the questions posed previously to the Board of Commissioners;  answers were never given by either the Board of Commissioners or the Bulloch County Development Authority.

Concerning Great Dane, the questions were:  

 

            1. What is the cost of the land and loss of taxes to Bulloch County  for Great                         Dane to bring their plant here?

            2. How many local people are employed at Great Dane today?

            3. Is their employee quota up to date?

            4. When is the expected date this operation will begin to pay Bulloch County?

 

November 9, 2015  Dale Cannady reported from WTOC website, “New Jobs Coming

to Statesboro with Aspen Aerogels Plant.”  Mr. Thompson  stated this will be adding jobs.  Mr. Cannady writes, “No Word when and how they’ll open and the hiring”.  

 

            Has Aspen Aerogels Plant actually come here?

            How many employees have they hired?

 

2012 Dale Cannady wrote on WTOC website, “New Roofing Plant  Brings Jobs to                                     Statesboro.” This company would be  a roofing manufacture GAF, citing     Mr. Thompson saying this would bring 50 jobs to the local economy.

 

                        When did the roofing company GAF open in Gateway?

                        How many employees work there now?

 

March, 13, 2017 Dewayne Grice wrote in the Statesboro Herald  W. L. PLastics opened .  

with “.....the hospitality of Statesboro and  belief they would follow through for us ......”

is why they selected this site.

 

What was W. L. Plastics promised to expect to be followed through?

                                                                                                                                      Page   9        

 

 

                                    I-16/  US 301 INTERCHANGE BULLOCH COUNTY

 

On August 10, 2012  Mr. Thompson signed a Joint Application for The Department of The Army, Corps of Engineers Permit, State of Georgia Marshland Protection Permit, Revocable License Agreement and Request For Water Quality Certification as Applicable. 

 

            page 3  A. 3,  Fill Area  ---- 8.98 Acres

                    15. A.   Does the area to be excavated include any wetland>     No --X

 

Yet, In  DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY PERMIT

PERMIT NUMBER:  SAS-2012-00582

First Page :

PROJECT  DESCRIPTION:  Tiis project will require 8.98 acres of wetland and open water

impact to accommodate the master plan for development of the proposed industrial park.

 

Under EVALUATION OF THE 404(B) (1) GUIDELINES

 

4.   Page  29   

Part V, Subpart  - F - Potential Effects on Human Use Characteristics:  

     a. Municipal and Private Water Supplies (40 CFR Section 230.50):  The project as currently proposed will  not impact any existing water supplies.  The Upper Floridian aquifer (a water bearing rock formation) provides most of the fresh water for cities and communities throughout southeast Georgia.  No major water users are identified in the permit application. Local human water consumption supply is not drawn from waters directly associated with this project.  No effect to this resource is effected.  FINDINGS:  NO EFFECT.

 

            QUESTIONS:  How wide an area was checked and shallow wells counted?

                                        I, myself, own two shallow wells and I am sure there are many,                                                  many more in the area.

 

Page 39  

 

k AFFECTS , POLICIES AND OTHER LAW:

k. Water Quality:  The State of Georgia, Department of Natural Resources, Environment Protection  Division is responsible for issuing a conditioned Water Quality Certification (WOC)  for this project pursuant to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.  NO  

COMMENTS OR WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION HAVE BEEN RECEIVED AS OF THIS DATE FOR THIS PROJECT.

 

            QUESTIONS:   Has this Certification been received?

                                        How was it determined  losing these wetlands would not affect

                                                the local water table

 

 

In MASTER DEVELOPMENT PLAN I-16/US  301 INTERCHANGE BULLOCH COUNTY by Ross+Associates , Thomas & Hutton 2012

 

            Estimated cost of project :   $49.45 Million Dollars

            Already Spent:  $13 Million Dollars more or less (verbally from County Manager)

 

                                                                                                                                    Page    10

 

Approximately 2.63 of the projected price has been spent and there is NO TENANT OR COMPANY TO PURCHASE IN THIS INDUSTRIAL PARK.

 

WE KNOW     you are working with SPLOST AND TAD monies and tell the public it is not their tax moneys being used ------IT IS OUR MONEY in that SPLOST  could be used for many things --- one being lowering taxes throughout the county -----  rather than --- we constantly hear the County needs more money and may and sometimes does, raise  taxes.

 

The consultants recommend for this area hotels, restaurants,  distribution companies yet we hear industry, industry, industry.  

 

The Development Authority of Bulloch County has had  this permit since 2012---- it expires this year . December 31, 2017  (SAS -2012-0052 page 2)

 

 

                                    BRADLEY INVESTMENTS, LLC

 

February 2, 2015

Bulloch County Board of Commissioners Regular Meeting 5:30 PM

New Business

Development Authority - Discussion and/ or Action: Groundwater Permit Application

 

Mr. Benjy Thompson  stated Mr. Dan Bradley is asking the County to assist in securing water without any obligation from the County at this point.

 

Mr. Tom Couch stated the positives  and stated the owner was willing to deed the well site to the County for the purposes of building a well.  After discussion  a motion to autorize the Groundwter Permit Application  was made-  it carried unanmously, all Commissioners voting in favor of the motion.

 

March 4, 2016 

 Bulloch County Manager, Thomas M. Couch signed and filed the application  with The

Georgia  Environmental Protection Division, Water Supply Program. Groundwater Withdrawal Unit for 750,000 Gallons Per Day to be pumped from one well, 

 

March 17, 2016

A copy of this application was sent by Thomas & Hutton to EPD of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources with a letter stating Bulloch County will own, operate and maintain the proposed water system upon final completion of the well,, well piping and water treatment system.  As this will be the first water supply for the County, a new groundwater use permit is being requested. 

 

July 14, 2016 - Bulloch County  Planning & Zoning Board Meeting.

 

Bradley Investments LLC met with the Bulloch County Planning & Zoning Board  asking vof  zoning change from Agriculture to Light Industrial for 4682 acres om lower Bulloch County.

 

The PEOPLE OF BULLOCH COUNTY had learned of this application and responded in hundreds providing speakers and research against this rezoning.

                                                                                                                                      Page    11

 

 

The Planning and Zoning Board  declined the zoning change, voting unaniously NO.

 

  August 2,, 2016    Dan Bradley withdrew his application.

 

Dan Bradley  reapplied for rezoning presented at the September 8 meeting  saying the rezoning would not be for industry but was not clear as to what or when the use would occur.

 

September 8, 2016---Bulloch County Planning & Zoning meeging 6:00 PM

 

THE PEOPLE OF BULLOCH COUNTY  came in even more hundreds to state detailed research and materials.  Mr. Bradley had hired a local law firm who spoke for him.

Bradley Investments LLC had  contacted three elected state government politicians and asked them to write letters to membrs of the  Bulloch County Planning and Zoning Board in favor of the rezoning.

 

For the second time ---- The Bulloch County Planning & Zoning Board again voted unanimously --NO.

 

Dan Bradley as Bradley Investments, LLC did not withdraw their application so a meeting with the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners to vote on the rezoning would be held October 4, 2016.

 

October 4, 2016

Bulloch County Board of Commissioners Meeting  5:30 PM

 

Lawyers represented Bradley Investments, LLC.   THE PEOPLE AGAIN came in the hundreds and presented detailed, authenic research from many reliable sources saying this site was not suitable for development.

 

The Bulloch County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously  NO --- the property was not rezoned.

 

By email  dated March 7, 2017 from Andy Welch, Assistant County Manager, Bulloch County. stated:                                                                                                                                  

“EPD   called Tom  Couch in November, 2016 to ask what Bulloch County wanted to do with the Well Application.  Tom told them to cancel the application.  I could not find anywhere online where they show cancelled applications, but Tom assured me our Application is cancelled.

 

QUESTION:

 

With the Bulloch County Planning & Zoning Board voting  NO twice to rezoning this tract of land and  SEVERAL HUNDREDS OF BULLOCH COUNTY CITIZENS - MANY presenting authentic researach from consultants, conservationists,  forest specialists, riverkeepers,  each detailing WHY this tract of land is not suitable for development, Mr. Thompson met with  a reporter from The Savannah Morning News who was writing an article  dated September 3, 2016 stated. his organization supports the rezoning......”

 

 

                                                                                                                                    Page     12

 

QUESTIONS:

:     

Was Mr. Thompson contacted by Dan Bradly of Bradley Investments, LLC ,  their consultants and/ or representatives to ask for Bulloch County to apply for a well to be drilled on  the land ?

 

Was Mr. Thompson and/ or the Development Authority of Bulloch County advisors to Bradley Investments, LLC as to how to apply for zoning changes from Agriculture to Industrial?

 

Did Mr. Thompson and/ or The Bulloch County Development Authority advise Bradley Investments, LLC or any person or group representing them, to request letters from three State of Georgia political office holders  asking the Planning and Zoning board members to approve this rezoning change?

 

 

                        GEORGIA SOUTHERN AND OGEECHEE TECH

2011 

The Georgia Southern Foundation -- a private group -  bought an apartment complex the owner valued at $22,500,000.  The Foundation requested and I assume received, $48,000,000 from Bulloch County to issue bonds.  stating this purchase “ would  devlop and promote the public good and general welfare of Bulloch County, Georgia and it’s inhabitants and to promote the GENERAL WELFARE OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA.

 

The issuer -- The Development Authority of Bulloch County notifies all interested parties NO INDEPENDENT AUDIT OR PERFORMANCE REVIEW (the independent audit) will be conducted with respect to Series 2011 Bonds.   The Issuer -- Bulloch County will ensure that the proceeds of the bond are expended (spent) efficiently and economically -----as intended by the INDEPENDENT AUDIT ---------- JUST STATED --- THERE WOULD BE NO INDEPENDENTY AUDIT.

 

The Georgia Football Foundation  has also requested and received money for bonds to extend the football stadium --- I do not have the details for that.

 

 State of Georgia Community Affairs, Chapter 62, Development Authorities  states

 

36-62-8 obligations of Authority  use of proceeds, status of revenue obligations, subsequent series of bonds or notes, bond anticipation notes, omterest rates issuance and validation. 

 

            How much interest does the Development Authority of Bulloch County/ and or                         Bulloch County  gain for underwriting these bonds.

 

            Since the Authority --- either Development Authority or Bulloch County does not                               OWN  these properties, both are owned by The Georgia Board of Regents                       of the Georgia University System...... 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                    Page     13

 

 

            QUESTION:

 

            Who pays the underwriting for the bonds if the Regents should decide it did not                               have the money to do so?

 

November 7 2014

 

Newsroom - Georgia Southern University issued a website  ONE GEORGIA AUTHORITY ANNOUNCES  $500,000 GRANT FOR BUSINESS INCUBATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT.

 

4th paragraph down

 

Lists uses of these funds by Georgia Southern  and ends by writing “the incubator is designed to create sustainable jobs, increase the number of businesses and improve                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

diversity of the economic drivers in coastal Georgia.

 

November 10, 2014  

Ogeechee Tech  posted the same headlines.

 

Third paragraph down: lists uses stating “a joint venture between Ogeechee Tech, The Development of Bulloch County, The Development Authority of Screven County and several private for profit companies.

 

Mr. Thompson stated in both of these announcements “The Development Authority of Bulloch County is pleased to be in a position to facilitate this funding, which will add to the existing community-wide efforts to improve the skill levels f our workforce and increase job creation and capital investment here:  Our success in securing these funds is in large part due to the community-wide support for these programs, which built on the tremendous efforts of the City of Statesboro and the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority in the initial stages of what later became this grant request.”

 

  QUESTIONS::

 

Why is Development Authority of Bulloch County involved here when both Georgia Southern and Ogeechee Tech,VPs of Economic Development have on their payrolls and the City of Statesboro has it’s own Development Authority?

 

GEORGIA SOUTHERN CITY CAMPUS - LIVING WALL

 

The Center for Entrepreneural Learning and Leadership group met;  Mr. Thompson spoke on industrial development.

 

QUESTIONS

 

            What is the Entrepreneurial Learning and Leadership Group?

                        Mr.Thompson  stated he would remain on their Advisory Board.

 

            Where is the Entrepreneurial Zone-  City Campus?

            Where is the much lauded Living Wall?

                                                                                                                                    Page   14

 

Three people at City Hall could not tell me how to find these areas.

 

 

                                          AUDITS  AND  BUDGETS

 

We could not locate audits and budget requests from Bulloh County Development Authority each year since you began your tenure in 2010

 

OFFICE SPACE AT THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE:

 

            Why is the Development Authority of Bulloch County office housed at the             Statesboro of Chamber of Commerce and not in a Bulloch County Building?

 

            Why the Development Authority of Bulloch County paying the Statesboro of                         Commerce $50,000 annually for AN office space?

 

 

                                                            SUMMARY

 

 

2-6-2017

 

            Are you aware the Georgia Port Authority has now sold 500 acres to commercial developers for warehousing, distribution and transload facilities?  This is within 1 (one) mile of I-95 .

 

            Are you aware rail expansion is being made at Garden City Terminal?

 

 

We have been told previously the Bulloch County Development Authority “can form their own processes and conduct business as they choose, as long as they do not run afoul of the law.

 

NOT  SO.

 

Checking with the Georgia Department of Economic Development  and the Department of Community Affairs we find:

 

The 2017 (401603 - 0202)  Development Authority of Bulloch County Registered

            Authority Review -- filed 2-3-2017 defines Development Authority of Bulloch                         County as 

                DEPENDENT - meaning receiving money.

                TYPE:    Single - Jurisdictional

 

The DCA also stated they have this 2017  Registration date on file.  They DO NOT HAVE A COPY OF THE RESOLUTION ACTIVATING THE AUTHORITY ON FILE.

They also sent us Chapter 62 - Development Authorities

 

            We did find in Bulloch County Budgets - the Development Authority of Bulloch                                   has and does receive $250,000 annually and has for years.

 

                                                                                                                                        Page    15   

 

5-1-2015  DA   expenses                 $170,000

                              Park Development                 80,000    -----  how was this spent

                              Other Revenues                   300,000    -----from who or what                                                                                                                 

                        Interest                                        2500    where did the interest originate

 

                        Administrative

                                    Personnel                    200,000

 

                          There are only two employees, Mr. Thompson  and  Mrs. Barnwell, who is the Director, Economic Development Programs (one)  ?  $181,295 is a very large amount of money.   Is that paid to Mr. Thompson?

 

We would like much more clarity of how our money is spent.

 

Being registered as Type - Single Jurisdictional

                        How can the Development Authority of Bulloch County  “facilitate” funds               and underwriting  of bonds for  Georgia Southern University and.             Ogeechee Tech?

 

            We were told by persons in the  GSU Business Department The Bulloch County Development Authority made it possible for them to “get around restrictions set by the State Board of Regents”.

 

            Do you consider  the BCODA is there to expedite circumventing restrictions set by Georgia Regents?

 

 

HOW EXPLICIT DOES MR. THOMPSON,  AS DIRECTOR OF BCODA BRING INFORMATION AND ACTUAL DATA TO OUR ELECTED COMMISSIONERS?  

 

DOES MR THOMPSON  EXPLAIN  ALL REQUESTS AND CONTRACTS IN DETAIL?

 

WHY IS MR. THOMPSON  SEEMINGLY MORE ATTUNED AND ACTIVE WITH GEORGIA SOUTHRN UNIVERSITY AND OGEECHEE TECH THAN THE PEOPLE OF BULLOCH COUNTY?

 

GSU stated as one of it’s objectives to obtain Grant Funding from One Georgia   is to 

“improve the economic drivers in Coastal Georgia. “ Bulloch County has long been a leading economic county in the State of Georgia; most people who actually live here rather 

than a few years transit to move on,  realize and appreciate and love Bulloch County,  it’s lifestyle, environment,  economy and people......... we are not seeking  drastic change; especially to “industrIalize”.  

 

In the video and website  about I-16-Harbor Corridor Authority you describe Bulloch County as a place with a thriving university surrounded by agriculture land------ not mentioning generations of prosperous farmers..... seemingly indicating  --- cheap land for developers to compromise.  Bulloch County is and has been a leading county of Georgia agriculture.

 

We in Bulloch County  elect leaders we feel who are like us, know us, and will be adamant for the good of Bulloch County and it’s people.   They represent us.

                                                                                                                                    Page   16

 

 

BCODA receives  County money approved by these dedicated leaders.  These leaders must ratify the actions of BCODA and approve contracts.  We are hoping now,  EACH AND EVERY COMMISSIONER WILL SIGN ALL RATIFIED DOCUMENTS AND CONTRACTS ASSURING WE THE THE PEOPLE THEY HAVE READ IT,  DISCUSSED IT AND UNDERSTAND  IT rather than what we have previously been told,    elected officials rely on what the “experts” tell them.  We often wonder “who are the experts.

 

We hope to see people from every corner of Bulloch Couny represented on all boards..  Every commissioner;. every Bulloch County government personnel informed and helpful to every citizen.

 

I am sure these questions of documented concerns have not covered all the concerns and questions felt and asked by the PEOPLE;   this is a beginning, a start.These inquiries are hopefully paving the way for more open and honest government understood by any citizen or official who wishes be informed. 

 

 

Thank you.

E. Ruth Green, Ph.D.

 

 

 

cc: Commissioners

 

            Roy Thompson, Chairman

            Ray Mosely

            Anthony  Simmons

            Walter Gibson

            Jasper Stringer

            Curt Deal

            Robert Rushing

 

      Thomas Couch ,  County Manager

      Andy Welch,   Assistant County Manager

 

       Jim Healy, Editor, Statesboro Herald

 

 

 

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