Liberty County officials hold inaugural State of the County - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Liberty Co. officials hold State of the County

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The State of the County is held Thursday in Liberty County. The State of the County is held Thursday in Liberty County.
Hinesville Mayor James Thomas Jr. speaks at the State of the County. Hinesville Mayor James Thomas Jr. speaks at the State of the County.

It is now sinking in as a reality. The largest army post east of the Mississippi River is going to take a hit. The army announced this week that Fort Stewart will be losing about 1400 troops by 2017. It will be one of 12 Army posts that would be losing soldiers. This is all part of the Army's plan to cut back, now that the war in Afghanistan and Iraq are coming to an end. 

People living in Liberty County are trying to figure out what impact there will be on the community now that Fort Stewart is losing one of their three brigades. But it's not just the loss of the troops that is a concern it's also the loss of their families. The mayor of Hinesville said that may not mean a decrease in population.  

"Since 2003 Fort Stewart had been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, but now we are going to get all those people back so the city and the county and businesses will have access to more people than they have had since 2003," said Mayor Jim Thomas Jr.

The county held its first ever State of the County meeting. Despite news about the cutbacks, the County Commission and the Mayor of Hinesville tried to stay focused on the positives of where the county is going and what they can control.

"We have done a good job of diversifying our economy. Fort Stewart is an economic engine; Liberty County is much more than Fort Stewart. We will be able to offset the loss of the troops with others coming to the county with all the vibrant growth and new projects," said Liberty County Chairman Donald Lovette. 

The looming concern over the cutbacks is unavoidable though. The mayor voiced his concern when he stated after the meeting, "My disappointment comes because we lost a brigade before and we did not want to lose another one. We are in good shape though, the city is in good shape, the county is in good shape, and Fort Stewart will be in a position to grow after the end of this war."

Liberty County Chamber of Commerce CEO Leah Poole remains optimistic. She said it's the little things people do that will make a big impact.

"As a community if we come together and continue to shop local and not go out of our community to find goods and services then we think we will be OK," she said. 

Two other army posts - in Georgia - Fort Benning and Fort Gordon - were spared any cutbacks. 

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