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Troup County greets new agricultural, natural resources agent

By Alicia B. Hill
Times-News

On Tuesday, Jonathan Lillebo, Troup County’s new agriculture and natural resources extension agent, introduced himself to the Troup County Board of Commissioners during the commission’s first meeting since he began work in the county.

Lillebo began work for the UGA cooperative extension office on June 1 — filling the opening left by Brian Maddy’s retirement last year — and there has been plenty for him to do in Troup County since.

“Jonathan has hit the ground running,” County Manager Eric Mosley said. “I think his first day here, he had a laundry list of home visits to take.”

Lillebo said that he has enjoyed getting to know the community so far.

“I am really excited to be here,” Lillebo said. “I hit the ground running for sure. I’ve made a lot of contacts in the county so far, gotten to have lunch with several of you all, which has been really great — getting to know you and your vision for Troup County and what you want me to do and how I can fulfill that role.”

As the ANR extension agent, Lillebo will be responsible for leading development, implementation and evaluation of educational programs in agriculture and natural resources in Troup County. However, a large part of his first few weeks involved getting to know the community that he and his family now call home.

“It has been nice meeting the people living here as well and getting out into the community and looking at people’s peach trees and cattle. It has been really fantastic,” Lillebo said. “I am excited to become an integral part of the community and meet the needs of our everyone here.”

After the meeting, Lillebo fielded questions about attendees’ gardening concerns. The board of commissioners encourages people in the community to reach out to him with their own questions about agriculture and other areas of interest.

“He is here, and his major is in horticulture, so if you have a problem with your grass, your plants, your animals, whatever, call on him,” County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews said.

Prior to moving to Troup County, Lillebo served as an accountability-based sexual offender program garden manager for Auburn University, where he worked to educate youth from a long-term detention facility on horticulture. He also served as the founding president of the Organic Garden Club in Auburn, Alabama, where he created a composting program to collect organic matter from campus and the surrounding area to make compost. Lillebo graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor of science degree in horticulture and is currently pursuing a master of education degree in agricultural education.

Other items covered during the Troup County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday included:

The Troup County Board of Commissioners recognized employees for their years of service. Christopher Bagle, Jerry Calhoun Jr., Douglas Meserole, Steven Sivell and Sandra Taylor were recognized for five years of service. Adam Richardson was recognized for 10 years of service. Jeffrey Duran, James Emery Jr. and Michelle Griffith were recognized for 15 years of service. Timothy Huguley was recognized for 20 years of service. Keith Bonner and Kevin Norred were recognized for 25 years of service. Ricky Ward was recognized for 30 years of service.

The board of commissioners voted to lift the hiring freeze for the State Court Public Defender Office to fill a vacant, budgeted position. The board also voted to lift the hiring freeze to hire the budgeted position of an administrative assistant for the Active Life and hire a truck driver for the roads and engineering department to replace an employee who was promoted into another position.

Mosley recognized Court Services Administrator Wanda Cotton for her years of service to the county, saying that Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting was the last she would attend as a county employee.

The board of commissioners voted to accept the Mental Health Court Grant and the Accountability Courts Grant awards and activations for FY2020.

The board voted to sign the Kofile Technologies Services Agreement, which had been reviewed and updated by the county lawyer.

The board approved budget amendments that would allow funds to be shifted within the existing budget to fund necessary upgrades.

The board voted to open a new deposit account in order to process medical claims.

The board of commissioners voted to support Georgia Department of Transportation plans to create a roundabout at the intersection of Wares Cross and Cameron Mill Road. It was unclear on Tuesday when GDOT would move forward with the project.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners will meet again on June 27 at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Avenue.