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Oden sets agenda for 2014 and beyond in State of County Address

Chairman Richard Oden outlined his goals for Rockdale County at his annual State of the County address Thursday night.

Chairman Richard Oden outlined his goals for Rockdale County at his annual State of the County address Thursday night.

CONYERS — The year 2013 was a time of overcoming economic obstacles and moving Rockdale County toward a brighter future, Chairman Richard Oden told residents and officials at his State of the County address Thursday night.

“Throughout 2013, despite all of the challenges and obstacles that we faced, we, as a team and as a county, remained steadfast on our journey to position ourselves to realize a strong, sustainable future,” Oden said in the presentation at Rockdale Auditorium.

In addition to highlighting county accomplishments through video clips by Commissioners Oz Nesbitt and JaNice Van Ness and department heads, the event included a spirited musical presentation by Susan Landress and a dance routine by Jenae’s Dance Experience.

Among the achievements listed were ordinance changes that made Rockdale County more business-friendly, holding the first-ever directors retreat, refinancing two county bonds to reduce debt service, maintaining the county’s ISO rating, reorganization of the recreation department, and installation of 1,500 radio-read water meters.

Oden also shared his goals for the county in the coming year and beyond. He projected continued assistance for homeowners through the Community Home Investment Program, infrastructure improvements in the Milstead community, expansion of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and continued efforts to secure federal grant dollars.

Oden said the county is laying a strong foundation for future economic development.

“The vision I have for Rockdale County is a substantial one,” he said. “However, I am completely confident that it is achievable. I have watched as other counties around us grow their tax base and snag great economic development opportunities. Well, Rockdale, we here can do the same thing they do, and we are on our way to do that.”

Oden’s objectives include preparing students and workers for 21st century skills and careers; supporting the growth of existing businesses; promoting Rockdale as the place to live, work, visit and do business; and creating a sustainable community that is attractive to residents and businesses by improving aging infrastructure, preparing the county to meet the demands of an aging population, and pursuing green initiatives, among others.

Oden highlighted the recent sale of the vacant John Deere facility as an economic win for the county. Oden said that deal was reached after the county finalized an easement agreement with CSX railroad to extend a sewer line under the railroad tracks.