Today marks the beginning of a brand new year and for Board of Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston that means it is time to get to work. Although he is no stranger to county government, having served as the District 3 Commissioner for the past few years before stepping down to run for chairman last May, Blackston is ready to get started on serving the citizens and making Upson County the best that it can be.
“I think we can make Upson County and Thomaston, Georgia a place that we can all be proud to call home and hang our hats on,” said Blackston during his swearing in ceremony last Friday. “You have to start over sometimes and I think today is a day that we do that.”
During an interview last week, Blackston told The Times that he feels being on the Board of Commission previously will serve as an asset to him as chairman, as he will not be going into the office completely blind. He already has his commissioner certifications under his belt and has several projects he has previously worked on that he would like to pick back up while in his new position, such as working with the Volunteer Fire Departments. Even though it has been six months since he stepped down from his post to run for chair, Blackston feels that may prove to be beneficial; allowing him to look at issues with a fresh pair of eyes; namely, the dealings between the county and the City of Thomaston.
The first order of business that he would like to deal with is the LOST negotiations between the two entities. Once those are settled, he hopes the two parties can work towards mending their relationship and then work together to bring industries, both large and small, into our community. Next, he wants to look at the county finances, and revisit the ordinances and personnel policies to see if any need to be updated.
“We’ve got to identify our strong and weak points in the county,” said Blackston. “We need to do some streamlining, establish some better personnel policies and update our county ordinances. I want to see us be able to do some debt reduction as well. If we can get some of those paid off, we can start to accumulate a little bit of money so we can get to the point we don’t have to borrow to operate. I don’t know if we can do it in four years, but I want us to take a good stab at it.”
When it comes to strengths, Blackston stated that the employees of Upson County are a great asset, particularly those who oversee each department.
“I feel our department heads have been very good about trying to hold down the cost (of budgets and department needs) and that helps a lot. They have all worked well with the board over the past few years.”
When it comes down to it, Blackston is looking forward to his new position for the next four years and feels good about the board he will be working with.
“We’ve got experience, new energy, new ideas and opportunities to better the quality of life in Upson County. I think it’s going to be a great team to work with. It seems that everyone on the board has something to bring to the table. It’s going to be fun and as long as you are having fun, you’re not working.”