Making A Difference in Our County
We're working hard for the citizens we serve. Here are some examples of successful projects from the past year:
ADDRESSING URBAN TREE ISSUES
The Clayton County Board of Commissioners wanted to find a way to preserve more green space within the county. The board looked into ways to ensure that services provided by the contracted tree service company were in line with industry standards. The Clayton County Agriculture and Natural Resources agent provided leadership for the development of a commercial and residential tree ordinance to guide and inform both builders and homeowners. The agent provided arborist expertise and implemented an avenue for checks and balances among tree service providers. Thirty site visits were made to evaluate and assess tree health and make recommendations on proper tree care in order to mitigate risk and tree hazards. Six county-sponsored tree removal service bids and invoices were reviewed and corrected. In three reviews, the agent saved the county $42,000 in overcharges by tree service providers due to improper measurements of tree diameter.
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
At 66.4 percent, Clayton County's dropout rate lagged behind the state’s as of January 2016. The dropout rate for Georgia was 78.8 percent in 2015. According to the Georgia Department of Education, 100 percent of the students in Clayton County are on free or reduced-price lunch. Many students could be involved in activities that could jeopardize their careers and lives. One effort to change the lives of youth was the establishment of Walking in Authority (WIA) Teen Council with teens from Clayton County Public Schools. WIA and Clayton 4-H formed a partnership to reach more youth. Thirty high school students participated in a community service project for Hosea HELPS and Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity. Students were asked to verbally give an evaluation of each program. They were asked the following questions: What was your favorite part of the event? What was the one thing you learned? What was your least favorite part of the event? In response to participating with Hosea Helps, students said: "It was a humbling experience to serve by helping give clothes to those in need," and "I did not realize the hard work put into getting donations for such a large amount of people." Students working with Habitat for Humanity responded: "The homeowner being present and helping with landscaping and painting made me take extra care with my project," and "I learned how to plant shrubs and flowers, which helped me in participating in additional community projects." A youth from WIA stated that, "4-H is a great program that allows me to prepare a portfolio/resume to help make my college admission process less stressful."
H.O.P.E. FOR HOMEOWNERS
Clayton County continues to lead the nation in the number of homeowners – 35 percent – holding negative equity, or underwater mortgages. To help struggling homeowners, empower neighborhood leaders and lift property values, UGA Clayton Extension’s Housing and Consumer Economics Department hosted a series of housing forums entitled "H.O.P.E." (Housing Outreach and Public Education) to educate residents about available support programs. A total of 364 homeowners participated in H.O.P.E. or other homeowner events. The impact of this series continues to improve the lives of Clayton residents. Twenty-six Wells Fargo homeowners received on-site loan modifications, resulting in an average $180 reduction in monthly mortgage payments. Eight homeowners were able save their homes from foreclosure.University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is working hard for its constituents. The following are examples of our impact in the county over the past year.