I want to make sure we can handle it before we decide on anything.District 2 Commissioner Roger Burdette
RINCON — Roger Burdette is one of Effingham County’s greatest cheerleaders. He celebrates its successes and advancements with tremendous fervor.
“It’s exciting,” said Burdette, who announced that he is seeking a second full term as Distrcit 2’s representative on the Effingham County Board of Commissioners. “Every time we do something like that — whether it’s (renovating) McCall Park or moving into the (new) Administrative Complex (in Springfield) — it’s a win for the people. That part alone is exciting.”
Last August, commissioners broke ground on a $400,000 project in District 2 at McCall Park at 5450 McCall Road. Improvements include a multi-purpose field for soccer or lacrosse, a basketball court, a dog park and a walking trail, renovating the baseball field, bathrooms and pavilion, and paving the parking lot.
Burdette expressed satisfaction in how the park improvement plan, funded mostly by SPLOST, came to be. He is also pleased that voters approved TSPLOST, a one percent sales tax that is used for transportation purposes.
“Those are wins because of the power of the people,” Burdette said. “We get direct results from that like the thing we voted on for Westwood Heights.”
During its Feb. 15 meeting, the board OK’d the funding to resolve a lingering drainage problem at Westwood Heights, which is also in District 2.
“They’ve had drainage issues for many, many years that no one has been able to tackle,” Burdette said, “but now that we have the TSPLOST we’ve got the funds to be able to do that. The engineering alone costs a quarter of a million dollars.
“It’s one of those really, really high-dollar projects that we’ve been unable to do in the past but TSPLOST allows us to do that.
“One of the things I love about TSPLOST is that it doesn’t rely solely on the taxpayers of Effingham. Everybody who travels here for whatever reason pays that extra penny. If they are traveling and using the roads — if they buy anything in Effingham — they contribute to those roads.
“It’s a great program.”
Effingham is one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation and Burdette predicts that the pace is going to quicken considerably.
“I think it’s going to be more on the tsunami side and that’s why we are being so aggressive with the master plans,” he said. “I don’t think a 10-year master plan applies to us anymore. I think we are going to have to go to the drawing board every few years to make sure what we decide on is still holding water.
“We are going to have to be very selective in where we put commercial, where we put industry and where we put housing. Growth is coming!”
Burdette said the commission is developing master plans for transportation, solid waste disposal, water/sewer needs and county facilities to handle growth in a responsible way.
“We are working extremely hard to make sure we do the right thing in the right areas,” he said.
Burdette said decisions the board has to make are becoming increasingly tough because of competing interests among property owners.
“I might have a group of present homeowners who just don’t like the growth for whatever reason,” he said. “New things are always tough on people but that new homeowner is grateful for that chance to live in Effingham and have their kids attend the best public schools in Georgia.
“So it’s a balance.”
Burdette stays informed about the challenges growth presents by conferring with Department of Transportation officials, the Effingham County Board of Education and nearby municipal governments.
“I want to make sure we can handle it before we decide on anything,” he said.
Burdette is eager to hear from his constituents, too.
“We can’t make an informed decision without the voice of the people,” he said. “If they have valid reasons (for their positions), we need to go that way (with our vote).”
Burdette said he has developed crucial knowledge since joining the commission. He was elected in his own right in 2018 shortly after being appointed to serve a few months following the resignation of Vera Jones, who moved out of District 2.
“There was so much to learn, especially with the zoning and administrative part of it ...” he said.
Burdette said county residents benefit from the commission’s diverse backgrounds. The board also includes Chairman Wesley Corbitt, Forrest Floyd (District 1), Jamie DeLoach (District 3), Reggie Loper (District 4) and Phil Kieffer (District 5).
“Everybody’s got their own expertise,” he said. “With all of us together, chances are one of us has had experience with one of the problems we are having. That’s a blessing.
“We work together. We don’t always agree — we aren’t supposed to always agree — but we work together to find a good solution.
“I am enjoying that part a lot.”
Burdette believes he possesses characteristics that make him uniquely qualified to be a commissioner.
“I’m a small business owner who creates jobs right here in Effingham,” he said. “I’ve a veteran and I have a master’s in business. All that sounds really good but the most important thing, in my opinion, is a love for the people and a love for this county.
“With that, I do my best everyday to make the most honest and most informed decisions possible.”