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Mayor's monthly minutes: "Always Shining Brightly"

Douglas Mayor Tony Paulk Contributed photo Douglas Mayor Tony Paulk

As the Mayor of Douglas, my philosophy to best describe the City of Douglas is that we’re “Always Shining Brightly.”  Over the past year, Douglas has made great strides in the areas of business, healthcare, and education. 

Premium Peanut launched operations and illuminated the City and Coffee County.  Wiregrass Georgia Technical College constructed a magnificent building to educate the future entrepreneurs of Douglas and to ensure a bright future for the City.  South Georgia State College welcomed a new President and visionary to serve as a guiding light for our future leaders. Coffee Regional Medical Center greeted a new cardiologist and plan to continue to expand healthcare services.  The Coffee High School NJROTC continues to set a glowing example of dedication and public service. 

As you read this article, I hope you, too, would agree that our community is “Always Shining Brightly.”

A few months ago, the citizens of Douglas elected four new city commissioners, an enthusiastic and passionate group of public servants, to provide leadership and vision for the City of Douglas for the next four years.  I am humbled to serve as the Mayor of Douglas. 

Our present governance team is dedicated to providing great public service.  As for me, I am blessed to administrate with a great group of elected officials.  Our City Manager, Terrell Jacobs, gracefully manages the day -to-day operations of the City.  The City employees’ dedication to the citizens of Douglas is unparalleled and represents the definition of a true public servant.  “Always Shining Brightly” reflects a council, staff, and citizens moving towards a common goal of building the best city in the State of Georgia.

It resides with me that the citizens entrusted me with the task of governing a very diverse commission.  I listen to Commissioner Gowen for a voice based upon facts and righteousness.  He is a researcher and a thinker.  Commissioner McNeill is very observant and seeks understanding.  She provides our commission with a mother’s understanding.  The youngest commissioner provides us with a true and innocent look at every situation.  Commissioner Durham’s excitement for knowledge is inspirational.  The Mayor Pro Tem, Olivia Pearson, presents a voice of justice.  She is always willing to take up a citizen’s struggle with an unmatched level of zenith and zealousness as if the struggle was her very own.  I look at her heart.  Commissioner Moore’s sense of humor normally calms any situation.  With his wife in the hospital, Commissioner Moore continued to perform his duties with grace.  Commissioner Moore’s dedication and love for this community continues to serve as a benchmark of great pubic service.  Commissioner Roper has found his purpose in life.  He is a public servant.  The situation does not determine his level of service.  Commissioner Roper does not care if a citizen wants a ditch cleaned, a listening ear, or someone to pick up their fight.  He is “all in.” 

As you can see, every Commissioner provides a very unique characteristic to the Council.  My objective is to provide the leadership to create a harmonious environment for seven very different individuals with different morals, values, and beliefs to function effectively as one governing body.

We all have different life experiences, social and economic differences, and educational differences.  Based upon our differences, we will see the same situation differently, but our differences should not and will not determine our effectiveness to govern.  We will not focus on our differences, but we will be grounded in our common mission of making the best decisions for the citizens of Douglas. 

“Always Shining Brightly” during times of difficulty requires the council to lean on each other and reach a consensus for our city to continue to progress.

As the City of Douglas ventures towards the future, we must continually challenge ourselves to think differently and craft a plan for future success.  The future does not look like the past.  More than likely, a black and white television will work today.  An 8-track tape and a cassette tape will work today.  But, we live in a world of satellite radio and playlists of thousands of songs.   We must evaluate and re-evaluate our methodology.  Are we using an 8-track tape resolution for an iPhone problem?  “Always Shining Brightly” requires new ideas and new solutions.  “Always Shining Brightly” requires a higher level of volunteerism.  The City of Douglas volunteerism must be led by our past leaders. 

The Bible states in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Past leaders must have a role in training our future leaders. Past leaders and future leaders will look at the same situation and construct a different resolution.  Past and future leaders must find common ground to ensure the City of Douglas continues to move forward positively and progressively.  Many of our future leaders are challenged to become a leader, as leaders are often full-time pastors, full-time business owners, business executives, full-time parents, educators, deacons, and healthcare professionals and other professions.   

Our future leaders will sacrifice their scarce, valuable time to make our City progress.  We promote a high standard of quality of life in Douglas and right now, our future leaders are enjoying the quality of life offered in Douglas.  “Always Shining Brightly” reflects our past leadership and lays the foundation for future leaders to tailor a plan for successful volunteerism. To quote Commissioner Roper, “You have to get in the way to get something done.”  Anyone can criticize, but everyone cannot meet the grueling challenges of being a volunteer. 

In a few months, football season will start.  I love the University of Georgia Bulldogs.  So, please forgive this analogy.  If the Bulldogs are ten and two, we think the Bulldogs had a great season.  If the University of Alabama are ten and two, the entire state is on suicide watch (except Auburn fans).  The self-imposed expectations of a national champion team every year is very demanding, but very obtainable with a strong passion to be the best.  As I travel throughout the State of Georgia, elected officials are always inquisitive about,“how did Douglas do that, or what is Douglas doing now?”

The City of Douglas has self-imposed expectations to be the best.  We are not compared to Bainbridge (population 12,507), Georgetown (12,235), Clarkston (12,215), Loganville (11,248), or Vidalia (10,679).  The City of Douglas (11,589) is often compared to Valdosta (54,518).  Thus far, the City of Douglas has accepted the challenge to be the biggest little city in the State of Georgia.  Our self-imposed expectations continue to be our greatest strength.  “Always Shining Brightly” creates self-imposed standards to foster a great City.

One of our goals is to educate our citizens about the services we provide.  The City delivers many services to our citizens, but the City is often categorized as a City that only provides electricity.  As illustrated by the charts, the City provides numerous services, in additional to electricity, and maintains competitive electric rates.  Within the next ninety days, the City of Douglas will be unveiling a new easy to read utility bill.  The new easy to read format will list each utility cost individually. 



Once again, “Always Shining Brightly”, the City of Douglas is a “yes” city.  Yes, we will travel to Atlanta to meet with our State Representatives.  Yes, we will form partnerships with the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber and Economic Development Authority and Coffee County government to accomplish goals that will surpass other cities and counties in Georgia.

Yes, we will build an industrial park.  Yes, we will ensure utilities are in the industrial park before an industry agrees to locate in Douglas.  Yes, we will help to build a SPEC building.  Yes, we will assemble community leadership to present our City to a new industry.  Yes, we will tell you that the City of Douglas is open for your business.  Yes, we are confident about ourcommunity.  Yes, we keep our doors open to receive a new business. Yes, our hospital will continue to add new healthcare treatment options and new physicians.  Yes, our technical college will renovate to meet the needs of the community and provide training to existing and new industries.  Yes, our State College is continually expanding their degree programs.  Yes, our public education system has great students, teachers, and administrators.  Yes, our NJROTC represents the youth of our community.  Yes, our community is perfect for your small business or large industry. Yes, our leaders communicate. 

By being a “yes” city and county, the citizens of Douglas and Coffee County have benefited greatly. “Always Shining Brightly” necessitates the City of Douglas to continue to be a “yes” City.  
I challenge you to let’s illuminate this city together by “Always Shining Brightly!” 

- Submitted by Tony Paulk, Mayor, City of Douglas, Ga.

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