Representative takes spot in Jekyll oversight
The Brunswick News

A legislative committee responsible for overseeing the finances of Jekyll Island has a new chairman.

Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming, was appointed to the Jekyll Island State-Park Authority Oversight Committee by House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, at the end of July. Hamilton is a Republican who represents District 23, which includes parts of Cherokee and Forsyth counties.

The committee is responsible for reviewing the Jekyll Island Authority's financial position and ensuring that its duties are accomplished in compliance with Georgia law.

Hamilton says he is still studying Jekyll's operations and hopes to gather more information about what is taking place on the island.

"I'm a very detailed person," Hamilton said. "I've already requested data on the last several years as far as audits just so I can kind of get my hands around what has been done.

"While Hamilton is still sifting through information to gain more knowledge of Jekyll's activities, he says he understands the balance between maintaining Georgia's jewel as a place of natural beauty and staying economically viable.

"I visited Jekyll Island a few years ago before the revitalization," Hamilton said. "I guess I was at one hand in awe of the beauty and the majestic views... on the other hand I was a little disappointed in the conditions of some of the properties.

"I can certainly see where it would be a fine line between making it a show place for Georgia... but at the same time, for those that are not into camping or would prefer to stay in an accommodation, we have to make sure that we have the accommodations and support service to support that also."

Hamilton says many of his constituents are visitors to the state park.

"I think one of the reasons I am excited about this job is I don't have any predetermined ideas," Hamilton said. "I have no predetermined ideas on what it should look like other than I know that it belongs to the citizens of Georgia."

Hamilton says he has already planned meetings with island residents and hopes to meet with the board of the Jekyll Island Authority in the near future.

The committee is composed of three members of the state House of Representatives and three members of the state Senate.

Hamilton will fulfill the duties of former state Sen. Roger Lane, R-St. Simons Island, who resigned this past spring to become a Superior Court judge in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit.

Former state Sen. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick, was elected to the House 167 seat in the July 31 Republican primary. Chapman is unopposed in the Nov. 6 general election.