131-B West Haynes Street | Sandersville, GA 31082 | P: 478-552-3288 | F: 478-552-1449 | chamber@washingtoncountyga.com


The Development Authority of Washington County, a constitutionally created Authority established by the Georgia Legislature under O.C.G.A. §36-62-1, et. seq., exists in order to “promote trade, commerce, industry, and employment opportunities for the public good and general welfare”. We are dedicated to the betterment of our community and constantly strive to enhance and expand its presence and influence in the economic development arena. Our approach is two-pronged in that we work diligently with our existing business and industrial community, plus we seek community and economic growth by incentivizing prospective new businesses and industries to locate in Washington County. Much of our past success as a community has been attributed to existing business and industry, and their role in moving our community forward is as critically important as seeking new businesses and industries for the county. Our Authority, whose members are appointed by the Washington County Board of Commissioners, is composed of seven dedicated individuals who work tirelessly toward those goals. Current Development Authority members are as follows:

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Mike Sheppard

Authority Chairman Mike Sheppard is a Georgia State Certified Appraiser who worked for AgGeorgia Farm Credit. During his career with Farm Credit, he held various positions and retired in 2011 as Executive Vice President and Chief Appraiser. Prior to his tenure with Farm Credit, Mike was employed as a staff appraiser with the Georgia Department of Transportation. In 1972 he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Georgia College and State University. Mike currently serves as member and Past-President of the Sandersville Tree Board and is a Deacon and Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church, Sandersville. He has served on the Development Authority since 1981.

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Ben Tarbutton III

Ben Tarbutton III is President of the Sandersville Railroad, a shortline railroad located in Sandersville, GA. The Sandersville Railroad has been in operation since 1893 and hauls various commodities including kaolin, wood chips, and plastics. Ben is active in his community and at the state level. Presently he serves as a member of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He is Past Chairman of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, Leadership Georgia, Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Higher Education Facilities Authority, and Past President of the Georgia Railroad Association and the Sandersville Rotary Club. Ben graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He resides in Sandersville with his wife and three children where they are active members of the Sandersville United Methodist Church. Ben has served on the Development Authority since 2000.

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Ron May

Ron, a native of Washington County and a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, spent four years in the lumber and building material supply business following his college graduation. He then returned to Washington County and forged a 39-year career in the local banking industry, from which he recently retired. Ron has served as an active Rotarian for forty-plus years and currently serves as District Foundation Chair, and for over ten years he has been an advisor to the Washington County Extension Service. He is actively involved in his local church, Tabernacle United Methodist Church. Ron has served as an Authority member since 1978.

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Trey Sheppard

Howard C. “Trey” Sheppard III, a graduate of Georgia Southern University, was born and reared in Washington County. He has worked in his family’s trucking business for over sixteen years and is currently Vice President of Kaolin Mining Operations. Trey is Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors at Citizens Bank of Washington County, serves as Chairman of the Georgia Southern University Athletic Foundation, and is a State Board Member of the Technical College System of Georgia. He is also an active member of the Sandersville Rotary Club. He and his wife Emily have four children. Trey has served on the Development Authority since 2007.

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Aubin Willis

Aubin, a World War II veteran, attended the Georgia Institute of Technology, studied business management at the Hartford Business School and Industrial Management via correspondence courses. He was employed by Georgia Kaolin Company for 38 years and retired as General Manager for two of their kaolin mining and processing operations. He is a former Chairman of the Washington County Board of Commissioners and has long tenures of service on both the Washington County Recreation Department board and the Washington County Board of Health. He has been a member of Rotary International for forty-plus years, and he also continues to be actively involved in his church, First Christian Church of Sandersville. Aubin is a long-term member of the Development Authority, having served since 1991.

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Carl Cummings

Carl earned an Industrial Engineering degree from Southern Technical Institute, followed by both a Business Degree and an MBA from Georgia College. He spent twenty years with a mineral processing company where he served as Engineering Manager and as VP and General Manager of the Carbonates Division. Following this he started a Water Tank Maintenance Company, and over the next twenty years expanded it to cover forty states. After selling the Water Tank Maintenance Company, he started several more companies, which he continues to be involved in – a private equity investment company, a land development/timber management company, a lease-to-own HVAC company, a high rise concrete construction company, and another water tank maintenance company. Carl is an active member of First Christian Church, where he has served as an Elder and Deacon. He is married with two children and five grandchildren. Carl has served on the Authority since 2015.

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Travis Collins
Assistant Secretary

Travis Collins is currently the Chief Technology Officer for Queensborough National Bank & Trust. Mr. Collins's previous work experience includes both a Systems Administrator position for Queensborough as well as a position with Sandersville Regional Youth Detention Center. He is a graduate of Washington County High School and has a degree in Computer Information Systems from Sandersville Technical College and an Associate Degree in Education from Georgia Military College. Mr. Collins is also a member of New Birth Christian Ministries in Tennille, Georgia, and in his free time, he enjoys coaching basketball for the Washington County Recreation Department. He currently resides in Harrison, Georgia with his wife (Audrey) and two children Kaden and Gavin).


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Jul. 18, 2018
The Development Authority of Washington County, at their regularly scheduled… more 

Aug. 15, 2017
Jayson Johnston Approved as Executive Director for Development Authority of… more