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Q&A: Jonathan Pitts, candidate for District 2 County Commissioner

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What do you see as the role of a county commissioner in protecting the health of Jones County residents during this pandemic?

The health and safety of all residents is one of my primary responsibilities as a county commissioner. That is why I worked with the Board of Commissioners to implement the Live Healthy Jones initiative. Live Healthy Jones was developed to encourage people to live healthy and make wise health choices. I have followed guidelines from the CDC, Governor, North Central Health District, and personal physicians to make decisions that I felt were in the best interest of the citizens of Jones County. As your District 2 Commissioner, I will continue to educate, inform, and make recommendations to the community to follow appropriate safety precautions related to Coronavirus. I encourage citizens to visit the Live Healthy Jones Facebook page to stay informed of health and wellness updates.

The 2021 budget was recently adopted. Where would you like to see more funds added?

I am excited about the 2021 budget because we were able to allocate appropriate funds to meet the needs of each department, resident and adopt the recommendations of a salary study to ensure our employees have a proper wage. I would add more funds to our fire and rescue volunteers. During a medical emergency, when we are in our greatest need of help, we depend on our welltrained volunteers. They deserve our appreciation and support. I have always been an advocate for our volunteers, and I will continue to work to ensure they are fully funded and have what is needed to render aid to the residents of Jones County.

What are your concerns that are specifically for District 2?

I will continue to work with the Sheriff’s office to maintain public safety, Public Works to improve roads, the Water department to install additional waterlines, and Keep Jones Beautiful to enhance community beautification. I will also work with the Board of Education to ensure our students are college and/ or career ready and explore partnership opportunities with City Council. My primary concern for District 2 and Jones County is maintaining a balance of business, industry, and residential growth to reduce the tax burden on property owners.

Haddock was the home of several thriving businesses in years past. Trish Ann’s opened in 2006 and last year Dollar General store opened. Would you like to see more business there, and, if so, what?

I grew up in Haddock. I remember going to the Jones County Bank in Haddock, Danner’s, Spec Stop and Shop, Charlene’s Bakery, and the May Day Festivals. Haddock has a rich history and will always be near and dear to my heart. I believe that Haddock has the potential to attract thriving businesses. A study was performed a few years ago, with suggestions that Haddock could become an Art’s District that would bring tourists to the community. If the residents would like to pursue that avenue, I would assist and support their decision. I would love to see the art and history of Haddock on display for the world. I feel it is important that a community’s assets are visible because that is what attracts families and businesses to come to your town. Additionally, I would only support a business that will meet beautification standards and enhance the community of Haddock.

Considering the county as a whole, what is the biggest need going forward?

Improving internet access is the biggest need going forward for Jones County. The lack of suitable internet access has been an issue for a while and with schools closing due to Coronavirus and kids needing assistance with virtual learning, it exposed how much of a need we have in our community. The Board of Commissioners are taking steps to address this issue by passing the Connectivity Enhancement Pilot Program that will improve internet access at four of our fire stations to better serve the community and our firefighters with training and response time. The Board is also pursuing the Broadband Ready designation. This designation will inform the Georgia General Assembly, businesses, and industries that Jones County is working to meet the needs of our residents and as funds become available Jones County will be at the top of the list. As the Chairman of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) Economic Development and Transportation committee, we will request the Georgia General Assembly to appropriate funds to the state grant program established under the Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative

How important is county supported recreation for youth and adults? Do you consider it a need or a luxury?

I believe supporting recreation for youth and adults is a cornerstone in Jones County. Recreation is vital to our quality of life. I am proud of the facilities and amenities we have to offer our youth and adults in our community. We currently have an inclusive playground for our kids with special needs, a dog park for dog lovers, some of the best baseball, softball, soccer and football fields at Morris Bank Recreation Complex, and the Jones County Arts. We introduced footgolf at Lake Jonesco Golf Course and we will also introduce the sport of pickleball within the next 30 days. We are also working on biking and hiking trails on Highway 49. Those are just a few of the wonderful recreation activities we offer our youth and adults. I am a strong proponent of providing opportunities for children and adults to be engaged and active in the community. Therefore, I consider it as a need for the community.

The Jones County Board of Commissioners has consistently denied projects for the construction of anything considered affordable housing unless it is designated for seniors only. What is the answer for families who cannot afford $1,000 a month rent or pay $200,000-$300,000 for a new home?

I would encourage those families not to lose heart while we are working with the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH) committee to locate an area for affordable housing. From my experience in real estate, in some cases, homeownership can be less expensive than renting. Therefore, I would suggest those families research homeownership. I believe homeownership is the avenue to build wealth and leave an inheritance to your family. If anyone is interested in learning more about the advantages and process of homeownership, please contact me.

Public water remains a need for residents in many areas of the county. Where does that need rank on your priority list?

Providing public water to residents remain at the top of my priority list. The Jones County Board of Commissioners currently have a list of public water projects that we are currently working on. As funds and resources become available, we will install more waterlines to help those families. While families are waiting to have waterlines installed, I have worked to identify grants and other funding opportunities to address their needs. I have also worked with water well companies to assist families with this matter.