Haddix: Working for more senior services
Last week had some good news and events. Very much worth commenting on.
The Dragon Boat Races and International Festival are back. They took a year off to rework, re-plan and buy their own boats. Tuesday, the Dragon Boat Preview and After Hours Party was held to unveil the new boats, courtesy of the Rotary and CVB.
Cutting the size of the boats down to 11-man crews makes the boats faster, more prone to turning over and allows for more teams to join the competition. I am looking forward to seeing them in action.
The International Festival showcases the many nations located in our Industrial Park. We are an International City and we have citizens from all over the world.
Next year the plan is to move to Lake McIntosh, where there will be more green space meaning room for more tents, teams, participants and visitors.
On Wednesday there was the Grand Reopening of the Gathering Place as a Fayette Senior Services Center. This was a long time coming partnership that will enhance services.
The Gathering Place began as a Community Center for all of Peachtree City. But by the nature of the building, over time, it became a place seniors gathered for activities. There were a lot of discussions along the way over just what was the purpose of this facility.
When I ran for councilman in 2007, some members of the Senior Council approached me with a plan and goal. They asked if I would listen to them, which I did, and was persuaded. They wanted more senior access to the then new Fayette Senior Services Center in Fayetteville. Further, seniors wanted more offerings at the Gathering Place.
Also running was Doug Sturbaum. I talked to him about it and he was also on board. After being elected we took the newly elected tour of all the facilities. At the Recreation Administration Building it was immediately apparent to both of us it was wasted space. We talked about changing the usage and removing walls to make it more versatile. The recreation staff said it could be done.
Once sworn in I took it up with staff and the rest of council, who were not excited with the idea. Still, we had a joint workshop in 2008 at the Gathering Place. They said no.
After being elected mayor, I called another workshop in early 2010, resulting in council supporting it while key staff members still did not.
Then came 2011, where we interviewed city manager candidates. I asked every candidate if they would do a top to bottom staff and structure review. We hired Jim Pennington and in my first meeting with him, as city manager, we had a very open discussion on many issues.
Two items were the partnership with the Fayette Senior Services and getting better use of the Kedron Center and the Recreation Administration Building, which he said he would be looking into as part of his review.
True to his word, with Jon Rorie and Cajun Rhodes in place, they moved forward, resulting in the partnership and changes at the Gathering Place.
Tied into all of were changes I had pushed for at The Fred and the Tourism Authority. This resulted in Nancy Price being hired as The Fred manager in 2008, and tourism director in 2009, where she was aware the reorganization was not completed. So, she said if the changes did occur, she wanted the space in the Annex next to the Fred offices for the CVB.
In mid-2010 we finally approved the change to the CVB, after some arguments on council about how much control some wanted versus what they could actually have and gave instruction to staff about making the wanted space available. It didn’t happen until Jim was hired and the staff changes were made.
This was all like a puzzle where the pieces were there but scattered around. Providing the CVB space, a partnership with the Fayette Senior Services, making the Recreation Administration Building more productive, etc., were all known and wanted for years. What was lacking was agreement between the mayor, council and staff pieces.
But once all the pieces were there, the puzzle was quickly solved and the final picture emerged.
Congratulations to staff, the Fayette Senior Services and those who got the ball rolling back in 2007. With all the pieces there both staff and the FSS just wanted the elected out of the way so they could get their jobs done, a request I honored and kept my involvement behind the scenes to one on one with Debbie Britt, Jim Pennington and Jon Rorie.
This is one that is truly a group effort. No one person can claim responsibility. There were many players all performing critical roles.
Three successes that will benefit Peachtree City.
Don Haddix, mayor
Peachtree City, Ga.