Videos @ VLCIA 2012 03 20

Likely new industry, private prison really cancelled, strategic planning, and trees in the median!

Here are videos of the entire March regular meeting of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA). Here’s the agenda.

It’s good that they approve minutes after emailing them to each other. Maybe someday we the taxpayers will get to see those minutes.

Did you know they had two executive sessions on 23 February 2012, at 10AM and 2:25 PM in addition to their retreat and regular meeting of that same day? If they’re having all these executive sessions, presumably all the material about personnel and real estate that needs to be kept confidential is in there, and the minutes of the regular meetings shouldn’t contain anything the public should not see.

For example, For example, the current month’s financial statements that the board reviewed would be interesting for we the taxpayers to see where our money is going. As Jerry Jennett reminded everyone, VLCIA’s finances come to them from the county. As the county has reminded us, the county in turn collects them from property taxes.

Chairman Roy Copeland asked Executive Director Andrea Schruijer to circulate personnel policy documents beforehand, since there were board members with some experience and expertise in that area; she said she would. Schruijer and staff toured the Kia plant, presumably discovering as Valdosta Mayor John Gayle did, that the key to new business was cooperation among local governmental, educational, and other entities. She had also discovered that other organizations in the area were already working on strategic plans, and she wants VLCIA to coordinate with them, which will take more time. She seemed to indicate they were only interested in talking to governmental bodies and planning professionals.

She spent a lot of time talking about their web server problems. Why staff don’t have discretion to just fix it, including a discretionary budget, without bothering the board, is a mystery to me. I wonder, as Chairman Roy Copeland did, why there wasn’t regular maintenance. I don’t quite get how doing nothing for two years is regular maintenance…. Maybe they should ask the local school boards how they manage posting agendas, board packets, minutes, news, pictures, video, and all sorts of other material.

For the strategic planning RFP, the board asked some good questions, and then out of the three responses, they picked the one from Market Street Services.

Schruijer said new Marketing and PR person Meghan Duke was at a Georgia Tech. Economic Development 101 class, so Schruijer gave Duke’s report. She said VLCIA maintains four other websites:

Yes, that’s five. I don’t know if I got the URLs right: those are what I found by googling the names she read out.

Plus of course

Which is all very nice, looks like some interesting and useful stuff, and is very creditable if little old south Georgia VLCIA is maintaining several statewide sites, but still doesn’t answer the question of why they can’t keep their own website functional. I do commend them for starting to announce meetings and agendas on their facebook page, as well.

Project Manager Allan Ricketts said there were several good prospects for new industry and mentioned in passing that the contract for Project Excel, the private prison, had expired. He said they were talking to Moody AFB about hosting in the May-June timeframe a meeting of defense industry reps. He said he’d been talking with the Valdosta Tree Commission about planting trees in the median of Gil Harbin Industrial Boulevard.

In Citizens to be Heard, Dr. Michael Noll once again requested a discussion forum for strategic issues, which we all would have benefitted for regarding biomass or the private prison. I mentioned some specific examples of further possible transparency, and complimented them on tree planting in the median.

Here’s the VDT writeup about this meeting. Here’s a video playlist:

VLCIA March meeting
Regular Meeting, Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA),
Norman Bennett, Tom Call, Roy Copeland chairman, Mary Gooding, Jerry Jennett,
Andrea Schruijer Executive Director, J. Stephen Gupton attorney, Allan Ricketts Project Manager,
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 20 March 2012.
Videos by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).