Baird looks to growth in 2009

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By Jennifer Caldwell

While County Mayor William Baird spent only three months of 2008 in office, he is pleased with the progress he and his staff have made.

From his office Monday Baird said he is confident the changes he has made in his brief tenure will lead to a brighter future for Campbell County.

The county’s ambulance service and animal shelter are two problem areas Baird chose to address immediately upon taking office.

“In the past there have been problems with billing and service, but I feel like we’ve gotten the ambulance service back on track,” Baird said referring to the recent appointment of Danny Sheckles to the director’s position.

“Betty Crumley is the new supervisor of the animal shelter.  With her help there will be a more concerted effort to branch out and work with the cities,” the mayor said of the plan for addressing the county’s ongoing stray animal problem.

Baird also called continued negotiations with the county commission on viable solutions to the jail overcrowding issue progress.

“Our recent meeting with the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) was a good step.  It opened discussion on alternatives, such as electronic monitoring, to housing people in jail,” Baird said of the meeting.

As for his relationship with the county commission, Baird said it is improving.

“In the beginning I think we were kind of standing off looking at each other, but now I think we have a better understanding of each other.  I think it will only get better from here,” Baird commented.

Regarding the upcoming year, Baird vows to remain true to his campaign goals of bringing growth to the county.

“I am optimistic about the potential to acquire some industrial development prospects as well as new retail outlets,” Baird said of his plans for creating jobs and economic growth in the community.

In addition, Baird said one of the first items on his 2009 agenda is taking a hard look at spending in the county.

To accomplish this, the mayor plans to establish a task force to evaluate spending across departments to determine ways to effectively cut the cost of operating county government.

With the new year stretching out before him and a plan for moving forward in place, Baird projects that 2009 will be a successful year for Campbell County.