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Leadership class wants to open new doors to county
leadership class 1
Barbara Prosser shows off a potential gateway sign for Effingham County, one of the projects Leadership Effinghams most recent class undertook. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

Concluding several months of leadership training, the Leadership Effingham class of 2012 offered input to the Effingham Chamber of Commerce on three local issues.

To complete Leadership Effingham, the 21 participants were divided into three group projects. This year’s campaigns were to expand the county’s tourism efforts, design an entranceway welcoming travelers to Effingham County, and advocate for the proposed 1-cent sales tax for transportation improvements (T-SPLOST) Georgians will vote on next month.

“Every year, the ultimate hope is that, beyond the experience the class members get, the projects become a reality in the community,” said Rick Lott, executive director of the Effingham Chamber of Commerce.

The participants in the tourism group project developed a “Destination Effingham” website catered specifically to tourists, highlighting Effingham County’s heritage, shopping, dining, outdoor recreation, personal services, lodging and events.

Diann Hicklin, Marian Hodge, Lisa Scarbrough, Lula Seabrooks, Rhonda Sexton, Mike Wills and Erin Woodcock secured the domain name, designed the Web site, created its content and developed the slogan “Effingham County – our community, our home, your destination.”

The T-SPLOST team of Justin Arnsdorff, John Crosby, Joe Marchese, Matt Morris, Tess Moore, Bobby Solomon and Melissa Waller suggested speaking to as many community groups as possible and putting up yard signs or billboards to “build support and persuade residents to overwhelmingly pass T-SPLOST in Effingham County on July 31.”

If approved, the penny sales tax for transportation is projected to raise $1.6 billion for Effingham and the nine surrounding counties in the Department of Transportation’s Coastal Region. The projects would include building the Effingham Parkway and an interchange at Interstate 16 and Old River Road.

The gateway group of Jill Allen, Elizabeth Christmas, Victor Gaylord, Jennifer King, Barbara Prosser, Mary Ann Thornton and Lyle Wood was tasked to design a prominent entrance to the county, similar to the one that used to be on the south end of Highway 21 as traffic entered Rincon. However, that sign was torn down because it was on a DOT right of way.

The team designed a welcome sign and identified potential locations for it, if the property owners gave their permission. Prosser, CEO of the Effingham College and Career Academy, presented a sign students in the ECCA Engineering, Drafting and Architecture Career Pathway designed using the motto “Effingham County – a great place to live, work and learn.”

Since tourism promotion is an ongoing effort and the T-SPLOST vote will be decided next month, Lott said the gateway project is “the one that you really hope can go the distance” and “give the county a nice entranceway again. Hopefully it will become a reality.”

Sponsored by the Effingham Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Effingham educates a select group of citizens in all facets of Effingham County. In return, the trained pool of candidates will be ready to serve when a vacancy arises on various boards, collaboratives and committees.

“You get to see behind the scenes in the whole community, which I think is the real value,” Lott said. “The idea is that we’re helping to train the next group of potential leaders for the county.”

The Chamber of Commerce will take nominations soon for the next Leadership Effingham class, which will begin in September. For more information, call the Effingham Chamber at 754-3301.

A new perk for the class of 2012-13 will be that, with their participation in Leadership Effingham, they will become associate members of the Chamber of Commerce.

“Of course, the hope is that you will want to continue that membership with the Chamber after the class is done for you,” Lott said.