The state of the county is strong according to Walton County Chairman David Thompson.
Thompson presented a number of factors leading to that conclusion at Thursday’s monthly luncheon of the Walton County Chamber of Commerce, where he gave the annual State of the County address to the assembled crowd.
“This county is growing,” Thompson said. “We’re doing everything we can to meet the demands that brings.”
Thompson brought a cheer of support when he announced he would seek reelection at the end of his current term as chairman.
“I will be running for this office again,” Thompson said, saying there’s a lot of projects he’s still working to shepherd to their conclusion.
Among such projects are the Hard Labor Creek Water Treatment Plant, which Thompson said has been bonded out and is almost set to begin.
“We’ve got the money tied down and are ready to start,” Thompson said. “We won’t have to buy water from Newton County anymore.”
Once it reaches full capacity, the plant will be able to process 64 million gallons of drinking water a day, which Thompson said would meet county demand for generations to come, due in part to $42 million in grant funds to help pay for the project.
Also in the works is the planned Walton County Public Safety Complex off Hammond Drive next to the existing government building, which will serve as new office for the Walton County Sheriff’s Office and alleviate overcrowding at the existing jail with a newer, larger, more secure facility.
“The plans have been completed for this project,” Thompson said.
There’s also an ambitious proposal Thompson presented for The Park at the Grove, an extensive public park and entertainment complex to be built on donated land in Walnut Grove. The project would include an amphitheater and pavilion, with full kitchen facilities, as well as a larger splash pad than the one in Between, and a sports complex with multiple fields, playground and facilities on artificial turf.
Thompson said the project is projected to cost about $42 million.
“I have $20 million,” Thompson said. “We’ll have to find the rest of the money somehow.”
Still, the county is doing well on that front. The general fund balance is up significantly over the last few years, nearly doubling since 2020, and Thompson hopes to build it up more to help fund future projects. He’s also proud that the county came out the better in recent negotiations for the split on the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
“We just settled on our local option sales tax,” Thompson said. “We finally came to an agreement.”
That new agreement saw the county’s portion of SPLOST money increase to the tune of about an additional $1 million a year — money Thomson said will go back to the taxpayers.
“That’s what it’s all about,” he said