Jones County Committee of 100 holds annual meeting
TRENTON | Good economic news has been in short supply in Jones County in the months following Hurricane Florence’s devastation, but the annual meeting of the Committee of 100 provided some reasons for optimism going forward.
The meeting, held at the Jones County Civic Center in Trenton Thursday night, brought together civic and business leaders for an evening of networking and information about the economic health of the county. In addition to a barbecue chicken dinner, attendees were able to explore exhibits from various businesses from across the county.
Michael Haddock, Chairman of the Jones County Board of Commissioners, said that the participation of businesses from across the county was one of the most important aspects of the annual meeting.
“We have a lot of small businesses in the county that a lot of folks are not aware of, so it gives them an opportunity to get some exposure and let [others] know that they are in the county, and what they do. We are such a spread out county [that] this may be the only time they get together and see how they can form partnerships amongst other businesses,” Haddock said.
After dinner, those present heard from Jones County Agricultural Extension Agent Jacob Morgan about the state of agriculture in the county. That news was less than ideal, as Morgan noted that Hurricane Florence destroyed more than $11 million dollars in tobacco, soybeans and cotton alone, not counting the cost in livestock and other row crops. He also noted the negative effects of the past few weeks of hot, dry weather.
Kevin Cherry, Deputy Secretary of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR), presented an overview of the state-funded tourism feasibility plan. Conducted in 2018, the NCDNCR was due to present the completed report to county leaders on the day Hurricane Florence made landfall. Cherry spoke briefly about some of the conclusions of that report, and made copies of the entire report available to attendees.
County Manager Franky Howard, in his “State of the County” report, reported some of the economic positives that Jones County can look forward to in the coming months. Of particular note, he said, is the upcoming completion of the new K-12 school adjacent to Jones Senior High School in Trenton, as well as the completion later in the year of the Hwy 17 Bypass.
Howard also announced that repairs to the Jones County Courthouse are nearly finished. Other items of importance, he said, were the expansion of broadband internet by East Carolina Broadband, the relocation of the NC Department of Transportation facility within the county, and the improvement of communication within the county thanks to the establishment of the weekly “Jones County Chat” program.