Crews looks back on 2020 in Troup County
Shortly before an interview with the LaGrange Daily News on Thursday, Troup County Board of Commissioners Chairman Patrick Crews had been on a call about getting vaccines to the residents of Poplar Creek Senior Care, the assisted living facility where he is administrator.
It was a sign of hope on the last day of a year dominated by the pandemic. Like everyone, Crews is hoping the county can turn over a new leaf in 2021. In that interview, he reflected on how the county and its government handled 2020.
Cases have been rising in Troup County, and Crews acknowledged that the county is not out of the woods. He said the experience of working in healthcare has been valuable though.
“Knowing what was going on in healthcare, I was able to, when we started having situations like [being] worried about the government center, it helped me to be able to talk with the county manager and others about what steps we could do to protect both our citizens and our staff,” Crews said.
Crews rated Troup’s experience with COVID-19 as “fair,” saying the county started strong before things took a turn for the worse during the summer surge. The conflict between the state government and what localities were doing did not help the fight against the virus, Crews said.
As of Dec. 31, Troup has had 121 deaths from COVID-19. While Georgia has had 90.5 deaths per 100,000 people, Troup’s has been higher at 171.8 per 100,000.
“I think the great disappointment was the number of deaths … my personal issue was that I think there was a lot of people that just did not take the spread seriously,” Crews said. “We’ll never know if we’d all worn masks in the first 90 days what it would have done.”
One major incident in county government was the outbreak in the Troup County Jail, which Crews said was “very scary for us when it hit.” He thought the sanitation protocols, reduction of the jail population and other measures were beneficial in getting the situation in the jail under control and preventing any deaths.
From a financial perspective, the steadiness of sales tax revenues has been a boon to county revenues.
“We saw a good surge in sales tax on outdoor items like boats and four-wheelers and a huge buying frenzy on automobiles,” Crews said. “The one bright spot is our [local] economy, as a whole, has stayed pretty strong during this.”
As the county has continued to grow, county commissioners have had to balance their pro-business ethos with pushback from some residents. Rezoning and special use hearings at the commission meetings have sometimes been contested as residents have sought to prevent changes to communities they want to keep quiet and noncommercial.
“From a development standpoint, again, I’ve been very pleased with how the county has done,” Crews said, citing the 700+ jobs being brought to West Point by manufacturers such as Hyundai TRANSYS and JinTech.
Crews also said a good number of housing permits have also been issued in the county. A lack of housing options is a common complaint among residents.
Looking forward to 2021, Crews said the new year was always going to be a big year for capital projects. The county is moving forward with improvements to Pyne Road Park, a new agricultural center and ideas for a soccer complex.