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Past year achievements, 2013 goals highlighted in State of the County address

Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden delivers the 2013 State of the County address in the Rockdale County Auditorium Thursday evening. Oden said the county is continuing to move forward through teamwork.  Staff photo: Lee Depkin

Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden delivers the 2013 State of the County address in the Rockdale County Auditorium Thursday evening. Oden said the county is continuing to move forward through teamwork. Staff photo: Lee Depkin

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Maryalyce Phillps, who serves on the board of directors of Rockdale Clean and Beautiful, was named the recipient of the annual Charles P. Cole Citizen Involvement Award. Phillips was described as a volunteer who has "always had a heart and drive to help in her community." Presenting the award are Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden and Commissioners Oz Nesbitt and JaNice Van Ness. Staff photo: Lee Depkin

CONYERS -- Focusing on a theme of "Reuniting, Rebuilding and Re-energizing," Rockdale County Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Oden said Thursday night that Rockdale is in a "rock-solid position to move forward."

In his annual State of the County address, Oden pointed to the contributions of those inside the county government as well as the school system, faith-based organizations and nonprofit groups in building the community.

"Rockdale County is an example of a model community, I believe, and I see so many positive things moving forward," he said.

Oden outlined advancements and improvements from 2012 in all county departments, recognizing each department head and their contributions to the county. He noted in particular that the homestead option sales tax exemption for county homeowners has increased, and the tax digest for commercial properties increased 4 percent and the digest value for industrial properties increased 1 percent. In addition, he said the county has been able to maintain aa2 and aa3 bond ratings despite tough economic times.

Oden said teamwork is the key to continue to make good things happen in Rockdale County.

"As we move forward to re-energize the community, we must continue to work together as a team," said Oden, who was elected to a second term in November. "I've been accused a lot of times of having an 'I' on my chest, but I'm a team player, and I may be anal sometimes, but the teamwork is what makes it work. As a quarterback, if you don't want to go in the game, I will call the play. We will succeed and Rockdale, we are succeeding."

In the current year, Oden said the Board of Commissioners will be focused on keeping neighborhoods safe; pursuing economic development; providing excellent customer service; creating clean, beautiful and livable communities; and continuing to make road improvements.

The county also presented the annual Charles P. Cole Citizen Involvement Award on Thursday night to Maryalyce Phillips, a devoted volunteer for Rockdale County Clean and Beautiful. The award was established in 2004 to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a true commitment to the betterment of Rockdale County

In presenting the award, Post 2 Commissioner JaNice Van Ness said Phillips had "always had a heart and drive to help her community."

Phillips was recognized not only as a community volunteer but as a former educator, church volunteer and community activist who had lent her assistance to other community leaders like former Atlanta mayors Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young, Rep. Hank Johnson and former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones.

Post 1 Commissioner Oz Nesbitt described Phillips as "an outstanding civic-minded individual who has made a true commitment to the betterment of Rockdale County."

In expressing her appreciation, Phillips said she has enjoyed living and volunteering in Rockdale County.

"Little did I know that picking up a little trash would get me here," she said. "This is such an honor. I really don't know what to say. Just as they say it takes a village to raise a child, it takes many communities to keep a county clean and beautiful. And that was my job -- to keep Rockdale County clean and beautiful."

The State of the County address was given at the Rockdale Auditorium at a total cost of nearly $5,000. Costs for the event were broken down as follows:

-- $150 for programs.

-- $2,256 for the Annual Performance Report.

-- $300 for a three-piece jazz ensemble that entertained prior to and after the presentations.

-- $114 for awards and engraving.

-- $1,580 for technical services including staging, sound, video, lighting and labor.

-- $350 for teleprompter operator, including time for two walk-through rehearsals and the event.

-- $52 for refreshments for volunteers and students who participated in the program.