Monday, June 17, 2024
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Jackson Mayor: Gov.’s Rural Opportunity Summit Provides Resources For UC Counties

Leaders from several counties from the Upper Cumberland came together for Governor Bill Lee’s Rural Opportunity Summit.

Jackson County Mayor Randy Heady said that the summit gave rural counties such as Jackson an opportunity to talk directly to the governor and state commissioners about how to improve the counties.

“You know you plant the seeds and they hear that and you get to network with people also that are there,” Heady said. “It’s just a good experience, it’s good to do, it’s healthy for Jackson County’s future, and that’s why we were there.”

Heady said these kinds of events play a huge role in progressing rural counties. He said that the goal is to continually find ways to bring aid to the distressed and at-risk counties. According to the state, economic status is determined over a three-year average of several factors, including the unemployment rate and poverty rate.

Heady said that the next step for Jackson following the summit is to continue working towards the goal of going from an at-risk county to one that’s in a transitional state.

“In July 2020 I had everybody from the state, and I’m talking about high up in the state department sending me emails and texting and phone calls saying ‘Congratulations you’re coming off the distressed label going to at-risk,'” Heady said. “And I told everybody, ‘Thank you for the congratulations, but my concern is that we’ll be forgotten.’ And all you’re going to do is you’re going to come out and go to at-risk, and if you’re not very careful you’re going to go back to distressed and that is what we want to keep from. So we want to continue forward and go into that transitional state which means for the most part that the quality of life for your citizens has improved overall and so that’s what I’m after and what every county mayor is after.”

Heady said that Jackson Director of Schools Kristy Brown was also able to discuss needs for Jackson’s K-8 schools, as well as needs when it comes to higher education.