On May 25, the Council, along with Henry County and the Henry Chamber of Commerce, hosted the 2022 State of Henry County. Chairwoman Carlotta Harrell delivered her annual address to a packed house of over 300 people in-person at Club One inside the Atlanta Motor Speedway, plus even more tuning into the virtual event. Presenting sponsors Squire Patton Boggs and Truist provided remarks before Cheri Matthews, County Manager, introduced the Chairwoman.
Chair Harrell began her State of the County address with a moment of silence in the wake of the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas and the recent loss of one of the county’s own public safety officers.
Harrell went on to commend the diligent work of the county employees and frontline works who “navigated the bends in the road” these last few years, using an analogy appropriate for the racetrack setting. She highlighted the endurance of the local Piedmont Henry Hospital, led by CEO Dr. Lily Henson, during the pandemic. She also recognized the work of the schools, specifically Executive Director Kantrell Brown and her leadership in launching a curbside meal pick-up program for students during a time of remote learning.
Chair Harrell detailed the many accomplishments of the county’s police and fire departments, including the opening of the Fairview Safety Complex, graduating inmates through a welding program, and being awarded the 911 Center of the Year for the entire state. These county departments as well as other community partners banded together through the pandemic to create a sense of community for all residents. Among these were General Manger Brandon Hutchison and the Atlanta Motor Speedway as well as Pastor TaMarlon Carter and Grace Baptist Church, both of which were invaluable resources for getting Henry County through the pandemic.
Henry County recently passed a 5-year TSPLOST program to invest $245 million into new transportation projects, 7 of 8 of which are already underway. “Improving education and awareness around the referendum required a massive intra-governmental effort,” she said, accrediting the success thus far to the collaboration between the four cities in Henry County.
She also gave a shoutout to Josh Fenn at the Henry County Development Authority for their hard work at keeping the economy moving forward. 2021 was “record-breaking” with over 2,200 new jobs and $217 million in investment.
She presented the Henry Hero Awards to those individuals among the county’s departments who exemplified excellence in service to the Henry County community. The recipients included Dr. Lily Henson, Kantrell Brown, Brandon Hutchison, Pastor TaMarlon Carter, Diane Dane (Police Department), Lieutenant Benjamin Leverett (Fire Department), Hutch Purvis (Facilities Management), and Holly LaFontaine (Risk and Safety Management).
She also presented the inaugural Commissioner Gary Barham Leadership Award in remembrance of the dedicated public servant who lost his fight to COVID just earlier this year. The first recipient of this award was County Manager Cheri Matthews, for her hard work carrying the county through the last few years of hardship.
“There’s more than one corner on a racetrack. There’s always the next turn,” Chairwoman Harrell concluded. She ended her address calling for high speed internet across Henry County and challenging the room to work smarter towards attainable housing options. “Growth is only a good thing if we ensure that it remains affordable so that everyone gets to be a part of the growth,” she stated, “but Henry County is turning the corner.”
Re-watch the full recording of the virtual event below.