State, County in Dispute Over Jasper Port - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/19/05

State, County in Dispute Over Jasper Port

Port plans for Jasper County are taking a step forward, and another twist. The state ports authority is going ahead with plans to buy the land, and the county's making moves as well. While the county waits to hear if the Georgia Department of Transportation accepts its offer to buy the property, it's not wasting any time.

Today they filed a notice for condemnation to condemn the property. And these recent developments have Hardeeville business owners hopeful.

They and residents have high hopes for 1,800 acres along the Savannah River. A site many of them say is the talk of the town now that new developments are happening in the fight to develop a port.

"Everyone is talking about it," said Frannie Jenkins of Frannie's Fried Chicken.

"Everybody is for it, they think it would be good," said area resident David Lassiter.

Joyce Rogers agrees. Her gas station and fireworks store sits on Exit Five in Hardeeville and she says the Port would give her business a big boost. We are a traffic-oriented business and we depend on people stopping for gas or a Coke or use the restroom. So the more people, the more people there are to become customers."

In fact, Rogers says this port could be the answer they've been waiting for. "Our Exit Eight is very popular going into Hilton Head, but Exit Five needs a new boost and this might be it."

Other business owners in the area also have big dreams for the proposed port. "I feel myself it's going to bring more business for us and I'm looking forward to it to come in," said Jenkins.

Beside the extra boost it would give to local businesses, many say it's the jobs the port would create that are essential to Jasper County's future. Lassiter told us, "I think it would be great for our county because we're one of the poorest in the state and it will be a lot of jobs."

"There's no way we could go wrong by adding more jobs," said Jenkins.

According to Jasper County's offer, the Georgia Department of Transportation has until tomorrow to respond to its $8.5 million bid.

But this evening, we found out the South Carolina Ports Authority filed a lawsuit against Jasper County saying they didn't have the authority to develop a port. We'll continue to follow this story and let you know what happens.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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