A louder voice and a chance to work for the good of a larger area was the outcome of the first Northwest Georgia Regional Commission meeting held on Thursday at the Calhoun Depot.
The merger of fifteen counties of the Coosa Valley Regional Development Center and the Northwest Georgia Regional Development center means the NGRC is the second largest commission in the state by population, behind Atlanta.
“This gives us a larger presence,” said Kim Canada of the Rome City Council, adding that it would benefit Rome and other cities when it came to funding, grants, and policy. Tthere is a lot of political clout in this (commission).”
House bill 1216, which went into effect this year, required the RDCs to combine into more consis-tent regions to streamline their effectiveness.
“It’s designed to make the RDC’s mirror other applications, like water districts, so we’re dealing with the same people,” said David Hammond, Calhoun City Council member.
The first meeting ratified the boundaries, which would be the fifteen counties: Bartow, Catoosa, Chattoga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Paulding, Polk, Walker, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens, and Whitfield counties.
The regional commissioners provide services to local governments and individuals in areas of planning, aging and workforce. They obtain the federal funding and grants that are dispensed to those agencies. They were first formed in 1961 when the Commission began its initial operation as an Area Planning and Development Commission and later as a Regional Development Center. They provide local governments with a forum to address issues of regional concern for almost fifty years.
The organizational meeting, attended by more than 50 officials representing counties and mu-nicipalities, as well as those selected by the governor and congressional representatives. Although there were some discussion about by-laws, meetings, and how to run the new organization, it was nothing that wasn’t expected, said Hammond.
“People want to protect their turf- their side of the street. But we are all good friends, working toward one goal, doing the same thing – helping our residents,” he said.
In the first meeting, the process of appointing city elected officials also passed. In the second meeting, statutory boundaries were ratified and Bill Stiener was elected as executive director. Billy Croker of Polk County, one of the Governor’s appointees, was selected as the chairperson. Mike Babb, Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, was selected as vice chair; Al Hoyle, Mayor of Ellijay, was voted as secretary, and Ken Mark, Catoosa Board of Commissioners, was named treas-urer.
Offices will remain the two former RDC offices, located in Rome and Dalton.