Thursday morning, March 31st, Chairman Oz Nesbitt delivered his 2022 State of Rockdale County Address before a sold-out crowd at the County’s newly opened Costley Mill Event Center. With over 200 people in attendance, the County began with the presentation of a series of awards to four Rockdale citizens for their hard work or significant dedication and service to their community.
Chairman Nesbitt began his address by recognizing the efforts to combat the pandemic from all county offices, specifically Rockdale’s Emergency Management Agency that successfully provided citizens with the information, testing sites, and vaccinations needed to recover. He recalled the many accomplishments of his County coming out of the pandemic, including reopening safer and more efficient schools and facilities, the major expansion of an animal shelter, creating a “storm-ready” community, and increasing the capacity of the fire rescue and public safety departmental infrastructure.
He accredited the County’s significant completion of roadwork in the last year to the DOT’s new Director, Brian Kelley. High mast lighting, road widening, traffic shifting, and a proposed bridge over I-20 are just a few of the transportation improvements that Rockdale is making for its motorists. The Department of Stormwater Management is also beginning the process of making critical infrastructure and operations improvements due to long-awaited funding from revenue bonds and a newly added stormwater tax.
Specific requests for 5-year capital improvement plan were presented to the BOC by each department head last year, resulting in $7.5 million allotted toward various projects included automotive equipment, technology, new construction, and building improvements.
An impressive number of permits and business licenses were given out in Rockdale County in 2021 as well as over half a million dollars collected from impact fees.
Rockdale County’s growing population has led to the need for a new court and judge, and a courthouse expansion to accommodate it. In 2021, the County also renovated a recreation center, adding a full court gym, bleachers, an indoor walking track, and meeting rooms.
The county’s HR Department is also assessing the impact of the Great Resignation and how to provide Rockdale’s workforce with its diverse needs. Chairman Nesbitt called for a minimum wage of $15 per hour in Rockdale County. He also announced that he is working with his commission to raise salaries for all county employees, but specifically public safety officers to ensure that Rockdale remains among the safest counties in Georgia.
“Now in 2022,” Chairman Nesbitt said, “we are at a point of balancing the need to stay safe with the need to relieve the anxiety and mental toll that staying home can have.” Senior centers are being reopened with new safety provisions and a Resource Opportunity Center was created to educate teenagers on post-secondary education choices. Numerous programs were funded in 2021, including an economic development series, a summer concert series, a transportation summit, and a Walk of Heroes for veterans. Last year also saw the introduction of the Citizen’s Government Academy (CGA), which is a 9-week annual program for residents to learn about their government, how projects are implemented and funded, and how they can get more involved.
“There are only two kinds of people,” the Chairman said in closing, “those who live in Rockdale County, and those who wish they lived in Rockdale County.”