CHATHAM COUNTY, GA – County leaders have been without a constructive community plan since 1992. With that, they took action with local researchers at the Coastal Georgia Indicators Coalition to start the process of improving Savannah and surrounding Chatham county.
“There have been conversations about funding for social services, for health and human services for a while and were we making a difference? And we really didn’t know,” says Coalition director Tara Jennings.
The plan includes input from dozens of surveys filled out by residents from across Chatham county. It now gives county leaders a blueprint of the issues and projects people want fixed and, through her study, one subject stood out for director Jennings.
Here is a look at the plan:
“Reduce crime was what we heard loud and clear in addition to that we heard that mental health needed to be addressed and we have a huge disparity in that area.”
Jennings says through the thousands of people that had input on the plan, education and workforce were included as factors to solve the silent community wide issues of poverty and mental health.
“Some mentorship opportunities and really being able to match some of our key employers in this community to some of the educational needs of our older high school type students that are coming out,” Jennings adds.
The county will take the plan and, by the first quarter, begin a study on leisure services provided county wide with how to improve and ensure safety for citizens around parks and centers. In the end, Jennings says a long term plan will continue to need long term commitment.
“Did we really want things to change? It’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen in a four year political election time frame, it’s going to take ten fifteen years to see some of the outcomes of this.”
Jennings says the first parts of the plan will begin on five year scale’s to improve areas based on demographic and geographic data. From there she hopes they will start small with improvements then expand on them as time goes on.