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Jefferson mayor balances growth, business

POSTED: February 11, 2009 11:32 p.m.
BRANDEE A. THOMAS /The Times

Jefferson Mayor Jim Joiner says the city is growing, but the City Council is working to ensure the area maintains its small-town charm.

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Mayor Jim Joiner says Jefferson is in a unique situation.

Though it’s a small town that is greeting growth with open arms, city leaders also are eyeing that same growth cautiously.

"It’s kind of on hold now, but growth was pretty gradual until around 2002. Then our population started growing by leaps and bounds," Joiner said.

"People are coming up (Interstate) 85 and wanting to move out of the city, so they come here. And we also have two subdivisions that cater to people who are 55 and older, so that has also been a big draw to the area.

"During the growth, our challenge is to maintain the same quality of life that our residents are used to and I think the city council has done a good job in achieving that balance with our zoning ordinances."

The 2000 census showed about 3,800 residents in the city. There now are nearly 7,000 Jefferson residents.

Joiner is serving the last year of his second term as mayor. Prior to that, he was a city councilman for two years.

"I decided to run for mayor because the council had just changed its charter and adopted a city manager format of government, and I felt like I could offer leadership that would help the city be successful with the transition," said Joiner, whose background is in the insurance and textile industries.

Though Joiner admits he may not have all the answers in running a city government, he says that various leadership workshops offered by the Georgia Municipal Association helped fill the gaps in his knowledge base.

"They offer workshops on everything from parliamentary procedures, to planning and development and municipal finances," Joiner said. "They are very good classes and all of the council members take them."

Most recently, Joiner completed the Robert E. Knox Leadership Institute for Elected Officials. The course was offered in January during the GMA’s annual Mayors’ Day Conference in Atlanta.

"Local government is a little different than running a business because there are a lot of mandates that are set forth by the state constitution," Joiner said. "So it’s good to attend GMA classes because you can pick up a lot of good ideas to help you become a more effective leader."

While he has seen a lot of change in his 10 years in city government, Joiner says there are several accomplishments that make him most proud.

"We have one of the premiere parks and recreation departments in the state of Georgia. We won agency of the year several years ago," Joiner said. "The city was also able to purchase the site on Kissam Street that was previously a sewing plant and redevelop it into the civic center, and create Curry Creek Park. Everyone enjoys the civic center and we host a lot of events there."

And though the groundwork was laid for some of the current economic development in Jefferson prior to Joiner’s stint as mayor, he says he’s proud of the city bringing in major industries with their tax dollars and lots of jobs.

"We were able to develop several industrial parks and bring in companies like Kubota and Caterpillar," Joiner said. "But as we continue to attract businesses and other industries to Jefferson, we want to make sure that we have the infrastructure in place to support them."

Joiner he says he plans to seek re-election this fall.

"There are several projects that we are working on and I’d like to be around to see them come to fruition One of those projects is the downtown streetscapes project," he said. "As we continue to grow, it’s important to do things that help us keep our small town feel and the streetscapes is one of those types of projects.

"It’s important to keep downtown attractive, but we also want to keep it viable for businesses. So before I leave office, I’d like to see the streetscapes project finished, at least the first phase of it."



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