Pickens County sees new mayors taking reins in 2014

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Carol Opdenhoff knows there will be challenges in her immediate future but is hopeful she can meet them head-on and keep Talking Rock moving forward. As a resident in the town 16 years, the new mayor is looking to lifelong residents with historical knowledge as well as fresh ideas from newer citizens for input.

“I’d like to encourage our townspeople to come to our meetings,”

Opdenhoff said. She feels their participation is imperative for directing Talking Rock rather than having the board make decisions and the residents only being apprised after actions have taken place.

Opdenhoff said it was

“encouraging to get a good vote”

and is eagerly anticipating her service to those voters. She was also optimistic about the incoming city council as there is diversity among them, from a young wife and mother to a former mayor. She believes their varying life experiences will bring a unique perspective.

The first objective: she wants to get more permanent signage for the town. Long-term goals: continue to expand the park, possibly obtain historical plaques and seeking grants for antique-style streetlights. “We need to accentuate our history,” she said. Another plan she intends to implement is the more regular production of a Talking Rock Newsletter, at least quarterly if not at shorter intervals.

“There are also things we can do to promote our town a little bit better than we have been,”

she reported. Vacant buildings being sold or rented to bring more business in is one thing that came to mind.

Nelson’s mayor-to-be Larry Ray mirrored similar hurdles on the southeast side of the county. He said addressing their empty buildings and bringing in business is important. He supported that by citing the number of people commuting to Atlanta suburban jobs rather than being able to find jobs within their home community as a paramount concern. He cited the industrial park as a possible means to draw business in to combat the problem.

“The local economy is in terrible shape,”

Ray reported. He also said playing a part in the role is the methamphetamine use that seems to be expanding in rural communities although he states Nelson doesn’t have as large a problem as others.

Other long-term goals he’s pursuing are overall maintenance, equipment maintenance and drainage issues.

Controversy is no stranger to the business dealings of Nelson and Ray would like to quash that reputation. His biggest challenge is

“dissention between the power bases.”

“There’s more chatter on the internet than I’d like to see. We need to calm down and do the job we’re elected to do,”

Ray said.

One thing he’d like to see in the past is his assertion that city business is handled through emails and personal communication. He stated that city business should be conducted at city council meetings only.

Voter turnout is another concern that falls in line with that objective. Ray stated more people need to vote and if they fail in their duties, the people should make themselves heard at the next election.

“We’ve got to try to do the right thing and make ourselves accountable to the people,”

Ray concluded.

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