THOMASVILLE — Based on what Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said Friday, the fate of the Thomasville farmers market is uncertain after a year of state funding.
District 173 state Rep. Darlene Taylor, after talking to Black on Friday, said the commissioner told her the market would continue to operate with state funding for a year. Afterward, the Thomasville Republican said, the market would be the community's responsibility.
The word from Atlanta several weeks ago was the market was on a hit list to close. Last week, the word was the market would remain open on a seasonal basis.
"She (Taylor) is a staunch ally and very aware of what her constituents want, unlike some other elected officials on the state level," said Thomasville City Council David Hufstetler. "We will be be preparing for what (Mr.) Black says is 'inevitable.' "
Pointing out the farmers market makes money, Hufstetler said the state "miraculously" wants to close it.
"I do not understand that stupidity," the mayor pro tem said.
Thomasville Payroll Development Authority Executive Director Shelley Zorn said an effort to keep the local farmers market on the state books will begin.
"It supports many businesses, jobs and has a regional economic impact," she said. "If the state removes it from its funding down the road, the Thomasville Payroll Development Authority can be the pass-through agent to transfer the property from the state to an investor and could offer a property tax abatement to the investor, but an investor will be needed."
The PDA does not have funds to purchase the farmers market.
"The PDA will lead the charge to recruit an investor," Zorn said, "but the PDA cannot do so alone. We will need strong community support."
Neither does Thomas County government have money to purchase the farmers market, said county Commissioner Wiley Grady.
If the market must become a local facility, Hufstetler said perhaps it could continue as a city or county project or a combination of the two local governmental entities.
"There will be no shortage of private investors," he added.
The facility could be transferred to city or county government, Grady said. He said the market's situation might change at the state level.
"You never know in politics," Grady said.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820