I am excited to report on the excellent state of Florence County in many areas.

We continue to make progress on the great projects that were approved by Florence County voters in November 2013 through the Capital Project Sales Tax II. We have completed roadway improvements on more than 284 roads and have expanded the road projects by utilizing the cost savings we experienced. The city of Florence alone has seen around $17 million in improvements.

Construction of a 12,000-plus-square-foot state-of-the-art Emergency Management Center was completed in November 2017.

The facility houses the new 911 center, which serves as the single answering point for all 911 calls made within Florence County or any of its nine municipalities. The center handles more than 169,000 calls per year, averaging more than 460 calls per day.

The facility also houses the County’s 800 MHz radio system, allowing all nine municipalities as well as county departments to operate on a single radio system.

The facility also houses the county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which serves as the hub of information and coordination between county, municipal, state and federal agencies during major emergencies or disasters.

Another campaign the Florence County Council embarked on in 2017 was “Get Bitter Against Litter.” We have taken action to improve the effectiveness of our ordinances with regard to the enforcement of litter violations, established an agreement with the Palmer Work Center to engage the services of inmates to assist in litter pick up and have worked in concert with local law enforcement, our Sheriff’s Office, DNR and other agencies to set up sting operations in an attempt to deter dumping at unauthorized sites. As a result, during the 2017 fiscal year crews cleaned a total of nearly 310 miles of roads with an astounding 463,583 pounds of litter removed from those roadways. A total of 141 litter citations were written and fines were collected in the amount of $47,945. We have just begun to declare war on trash.

Our new Florence County Judicial Center opened this spring. Our administrator, Rusty Smith, likes to say this facility is the “anchor” for the downtown revitalization effort.

Several parks have been upgraded with new equipment and safety enhancements for our youth. The citizens in the Johnsonville opened a new athletic facility in April, thanks to the penny tax, and we have added some $400,000 in improvements to Venters Landing.

Another amazing project the county has seen to fruition is the Lake City Park. This park has a seven-acre lake and boasts a boardwalk with five fishing piers, a canoe/kayak launch, picnic shelter with an outdoor fireplace, walking trail, landscaping with plants that are indigenous to the area, a gazebo and several other amenities that will without a doubt entice our citizens to be frequent visitors.

This is another project that would not have been possible without the generous partnership of the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation. This foundation and The Campbell Foundation made it possible to construct the Miracle League field at the Greenwood athletic complex.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention upgrades to the Florence Center.

Throughout the county we continue to see progress, and that is largely due to vision and innovative thinking of folks whose support of local government keeps us on top of what the community wants. We want to keep that momentum going.

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