April 1-- The population in the unincorporated areas of Toombs County continued to grow in the last ten years while two of the three towns in the county lost population.
Toombs County manager Doug Eaves says it's a trend that's been going on for twenty years.
"The county had an overall growth of four percent. The trend continues that we've seen over the last 20 years that people are moving out of the municipalities into the unincorporated area. We had a three percent increase from 42 percent to over 45 percent living in the county. Lyons had a slight increase, but Santa Claus and Vidalia had a negative downturn," he notes.
Vidalia's population dropped about a third of a percent to 10,337, Santa Claus had a 30 percent drop to 165 and Lyons grew just under one percent to 4,367. Toombs total population grew by 1,156 to 27,223 according to the 2010 census.
Growth in the 17-county Heart of Georgia region grew about eleven percent, but Eaves attributes some of that to increased prison populations in counties like Wheeler, Tattnall and Telfair.
"As the state is closing prisons and moving prisoners around, the prison population in some of these counties is going up considerably, and what happens is those prisoners get counted in the populations of those counties and the ones showing 18 to 20 percent growth are from the prison population," Eaves believes.
Montgomery County's population increased over ten percent to 9,123 and Treutlen's increased only slightly to 6,885.
Overall Georgia's population increased about 20 percent with most of the growth in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Eaves says that means rural areas will lose representation in the state legislature when redistricting is done later this year.
"We're going to lose some House seats in the General Assembly and some of our Senate seats are going to get spread out a bit more. It's going to hurt us in this part of the state as opposed to the more metro regions," he says.