Commissioner Lamar Paris is a very visible figure in Blairsville-Union County as he has served as the Union County Commissioner for the last 16 years and counting. As someone born and raised in the area, Commissioner Paris has seen the County grow and develop over time and works to continually improve his hometown for the better. We caught up with Commissioner Paris to get his thoughts on where Blairsville-Union County has been and where he’d like to see it go in the future.
As the Union County Commissioner and a lifelong resident of Blairsville-Union County, you have seen a lot of change and development in the area over the years. How do you feel that this growth has affected Blairsville-Union County?
As a 9-year-old riding my bicycle to town every day, to gathering with friends in the summer on Wellborn Mountain, to hunting and playing all day, it was a wonderful place to be raised. Unfortunately, almost everyone was poor because there were so few employment opportunities. Many people had to leave for Michigan and other areas of the United States to find work.
So, while everyone may not agree, I feel the growth that has happened in our County has mostly been positive. There are more jobs now, a great hospital, a great school system, and exceptional recreation opportunities which would not have been possible if there had been no growth over the years. This allows more people to grow up here and then stay and raise their own families here also.
Blairsville-Union County is a place that supports businesses that support the community. What would you recommend to current or prospective business owners in the area looking to get involved in the community?
I would recommend they join one of our exceptional community service organizations and participate from a business perspective. By doing this, business owners can meet others who can assist with their business or with simply getting to know our community. We are a very newcomer friendly community and welcome new residents and businesses. In addition to joining a civic organization newcomers can join Butternut Creek Golf Course, boat and fish on Lake Nottely, or simply enjoy the many miles of trails to better understand our community and its citizens.
What would you like to see happen in Blairsville-Union County in the next 5-10 years?
I would like to see Blairsville and Union County continue on the path we are currently following. If a community is not growing, it is usually dying, so progress is part of a vibrant community. Naturally, we hope growth is steady so that it does not overwhelm our infrastructure, but continuing to provide jobs and better employment opportunities should always be part of the focus. At the same time, we do not want to destroy what makes people want to move to Union County and the City of Blairsville. We are blessed with over 50% of our land being owned by the National Forest or TVA which is a real advantage in helping maintain a rural atmosphere as we continue to grow.