County Administrator Jonathan Sweet – noting the theme of the county’s current budget year of “Get Stuff Done” – reported Monday night on a long list of accomplishments achieved during 2018.
Sweet said 2018 had been “an exceptional year” in which county staff, administration and the Board of Supervisors had not only gotten things done, but finished projects that had been worked on in some cases for years.
“I want to sincerely thank this Board for your support,” Sweet said. “The convergence of vision and direction, leadership and management, staff capacity and talent, and planning and adequate funding is the proven recipe necessary for getting stuff done and this Board has fostered our success by ensuring we have all these necessary ingredients.”
Sweet also thanked county staff for “their diligence, dedication, commitment and perseverance.”
“The Board knows that much of what we do is difficult, complex, competitive, time-sensitive, cumbersome and sometimes considered improbable,” Sweet said. “We are thankful that the Board knows that much of what we do is thankless, inappropriately criticized, underappreciated, misunderstood, twisted for personal or political reasons, or simply ignored. Nevertheless our county employees demonstrate their heart for public service by ignoring all of the noise and distractions and by remaining focused on getting things done for the benefit of this county and all the people who call it home.”
Supervisors Chairman Andy McCready agreed that the county’s theme of “getting stuff done” has become “getting stuff finished,” and noted, “It’s just wonderful we’ve reached that stage.”
“This Board placed pressure on you to get stuff finished, wrapped up and taken care of, and you have performed beyond our expectations consistently,” McCready told Sweet.
McCready said the list of achievements by the county this year were all reached while continuing to work on a number of economic development projects.
“We look forward to this year. We’ve got a lot of projects on the table, a lot of things cooking. I’m proud of what we have accomplished as a team and as a board working with you and your staff,” McCready said.
Supervisor Charles Bopp told Sweet he is proud to “have him aboard,” and noted that hiring Sweet had been the right decision by the board.
Supervisor Joe Guthrie added that people across Virginia are taking note of Pulaski County and what is being accomplished here.
Some of the achievements highlighted by Sweet include:
- Aggressively pursuing a Bond Rating Upgrade from the bond rating agencies from an A+ to AA-. Sweet recalled that in March 2018 Pulaski County sold its General Obligation School Bonds at a competitive public sale and were issued with the county’s credit and independent of any state-sponsored program. “Taking this approach we secured the funding necessary to construct the new middle school and saved the taxpayers between $8.76 million and $9.96 million as opposed to the School Board’s recommended financing approach. This was very beneficial to citizens,” Sweet said.
- Helped lead an I-81 Safety and Interdiction Initiative that resulted in the reduction of motor vehicle traffic fatalities from nine in 2017 to four in 2018.
- A new county website was completed and went live on Jan. 2.
- Memorandums of Understanding between the county and the School Board on joint services have been agreed upon and signed. Similar agreements have been reached with New River Community Corrections, Pulaski County Department of Social Services and with New River Criminal Justice Training Academy on IT services.
- Held one economic development announcement last January with the addition of NewCan to the community with 40 new jobs and $2.5 million in investment.
- Commenced and completed construction of a 30,000 square foot facility for the county’s newest international industry, Koinonia Foams from Brazil.
- Phase I of Phoenix Packaging’s 200,000 square foot facility expansion project, which is substantially complete.
- Added six new small businesses to the Business Center in Fairlawn which is near capacity.
- Changed the Industrial Development Authority to the Economic Development Authority because of its expanded economic development focus.
- Sponsored Manufacturing Day in the county with every eighth grader touring a local manufacturing plant.
- Completed improvements to the County Administration Building.
• Completed construction of Draper Community Park with work on a pavilion construction anticipated for February / March with completion in May.
By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot