Merry Christmas citizens of Douglas! I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving and you are busy making preparations to have a merry Christmas! The new year will be here before you know it and we are expecting A LOT to be happening in Douglas and Coffee County in 2020! The Christmas holidays are my favorite time of the year. During the Christmas holidays smiles are everywhere! The spirit of giving, compassion, and understanding is at a very high level in our community. I have personally witnessed the giving spirit by the numerous posts on social media requesting aid for citizens in need to privately inbox their contact information. Additionally, I witnessed several individuals pay for citizens lay-a-ways and entire Christmas purchases. Toy drives are underway! Christmas decorations are up!
How do you know it is Christmastime in Douglas? Douglas Christian Fellowship Church of God has their “Lighting the Way” Christmas display open. Please take the time to visit the “Lighting the Way” display on Highway 158. It’s just a mile outside the city limits. I promise you will enjoy it. The “Lighting the Way” Christmas display is a drive through display. So, I would like to personally encourage all citizens of Douglas and Coffee County to take an adventure through the “Lighting the Way” Christmas display!
How else do you know it is Christmastime? The official Christmas tree lighting ceremony was a great success. Our Christmas parade was overwhelming. Besides, I was tired from jogging behind the golf cart during the Christmas parade - my wife was driving too fast!
The Mayor’s Christmas Motorcade was a HUGE success this year! The city of Douglas and Coffee County, with the help of Walmart DC 6010 and Mr. Robert Preston, delivered the largest number of gifts this year to Savannah Regional Hospital! The Savannah Regional Hospital is a state funded multi-service facility that provides quality care to citizens facing the challenges of mental illness. Gifts are not just for Christmas, the gifts are used for birthdays, welcome gifts, and special occasions throughout the year. It’s hard to imagine that a family would put a loved one in a hospital and not return to visit or send gifts to them for Christmas or birthdays. At first, I knew we were delivering gifts, but, I did not know we were delivering smiles! As the Mayor’s Christmas Motorcade turned into the facility, an employee shouted, “A semi-truck turned in with the motorcade. Please have the semi-truck to pull to the side and let the motorcade pass.” I responded, “The semi-truck is with us.” The employee started jumping for joy. As the semi-truck was being unloaded, directors and employees were coming out to assist with the unloading. Another employee said, “I been here for twenty-two years and I have never seen a community bring this much love to our clients. You have no idea what this means to our clients.” If that was not enough, another director was extremely excited just for the cardboard boxes. He said, “The facility operates a cardboard box recycling operation and the residents are going to be excited to get to work once the gifts were unpacked!” This is a wonderful program supported by the Georgia Municipal Association and I am so happy we can help out this year.
During this Christmas, let’s display the true greatness of our community. My challenge is very simple and involves two objectives. The first objective is very easy - please donate two toys to any toy drive in our community. The second objective is sometimes little more difficult - assist a family member in need. I often see people assisting complete strangers quicker than they would assist a family member because you know the family member’s story. Often, we forget about assisting family members. Charity begins at home and then spreads and serves as the foundation for the above two challenges. By the time you read this article, I will have completed both of the challenges.
We just had our Community Toy Drive take place to help families and children in need this Christmas. This is the season for giving, so please do all that you can to make a child smile this Christmas. We gave to over 300 children and 150 families this year! Let’s all help those who are in need this Christmas whether it is a kind word, a meal, or a small toy for a child. Let’s do our part to ensure that everyone in our community has a Merry Christmas.
During the campaign season, people ask, “What is the meaning behind your slogan and why is it so long?” According to my personal Bible, Louis Klopsch is accredited with putting Jesus words in red to place a greater importance on the spoken words of Jesus. The Christmas season is the perfect time to put Louis Klopsch life motto on full display. “Do All The Good You Can For All The People You Can.”
There's a popular Chinese proverb that says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” If we want success and growth in the future, the best time to act is now. The referendum to allow the local government to establish a Tax Allocation District (TAD) has passed. Now, you may ask what is the next phase to get these retail stores and restaurants to Douglas? The City of Douglas has already had both public readings of the plans for redevelopment. The next step is for the Planning and Zoning Commission to consider the rezoning application on December 19, then the rezoning request will be read at the City Commission meeting on December 23, 2019. After the first reading of the rezoning request, the County Commission and School Board have to submit a local resolution, development agreement and inter-governmental agreements. Then the second reading, public hearing and adoption of the rezoning application will take place at the January 13, 2020 City Commission meeting. If all continues on schedule, the building plans will be submitted for review to the City of Douglas in February, construction will begin in March, and the first outparcel pads will be ready in June 2020! Our moment to shine continues – voters decided, now it’s up to elected officials to move this project forward!
I am so happy to announce the City and County has been approved to submit an application to work together with Unison Behavioral Health and the Southern Georgia Regional Commission for an Innovation Grant that will benefit all of our citizens! If approved, the grant will fund a network of Hospital, Primary Care and Behavioral Health Services – focusing on low income residents of Coffee County and we will work together to expand services to address behavioral health needs of children and adults.
I enjoy the holidays with my family and I hope that each of you spend time with your family and also see the need to spend time with your community. We should all be thankful for our family, health, and God each day. We can all help Douglas Shine Brighter when we give time to our family and community this Christmas season.