A group of Columbia County leaders met informally Tuesday in Harlem to improve intergovernment relations and discuss current issues.
However, no serious matters were broached at the dinner meeting at Red Oak Manor. Instead, officials mostly praised each other and their willingness to openly communicate.
Grovetown Mayor George James said he appreciates how far the counties and cities have come in improving their once-strained communications.
"Our relationship is the best it has been since I've been involved in city government," he said.
James also said he would like to resume regular meetings between city and county officials but doesn't want to return to large quarterly meetings such as ones the governments once held. Those sessions often included numerous officials and could be unwieldy, James said.
The mayor said he would prefer meetings where only the pertinent officials gathered to settle an issue.
County commission Chairman Ron Cross said he agreed with James on the improved relationships, but wants to avoid establishing formal meeting dates.
He said he would prefer the current arrangement where county and city leaders met when needed.
Too often, Cross said, officials would meet for the sake of meeting with no real issues to discuss.
Chief Magistrate Bobby Christine noted that Tuesday was the first time he had met Harlem Mayor Bobby Culpepper.
Christine said making such connections was the purpose of the gathering, which he helped organize with county commissioners Scott Dean and Trey Allen, and school board member Mike Sleeper.
City and county leaders knowing each other socially makes it easier for them to pick up a phone and call them when an issue arises, they said.
Other officials at the meeting included school board members Regina Buccafusco, Roxanne Whitaker and Mildred Blackburn, county Commissioner Charles Allen, Harlem City Councilman Johnny Thigpen, Grovetown City Councilman Robert Newman, state Rep. Lee Anderson and state Sen. Bill Jackson.
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