This week’s Hometown Public Servant is Travis Neal, Emanuel County Board of Assessors field appraiser and volunteer firefighter/first responder with Twin City Fire Department. A native of Emanuel County, Neal has dedicated 17 years to local communities for services rendered as a volunteer firefighter and has served the city of Twin City as assistant chief and treasurer at the fire department. His current role as an appraiser for the county tax office began one year ago. Prior to that, Neal worked in corrections and probations since graduating college in 2008.
“I began my career working as a correctional officer at Georgia State Prison, then I worked for Emanuel Probation Detention Center. In 2010, I began working at Middle Georgia Probation as a probation officer. I was promoted to Area Manager at Middle Georgia Probation’s Swainsboro office in January 2012 and served in that capacity until leaving in 2020 to accept my current role as a tax appraiser,” Neal stated.
Neal’s passion for serving the local community began in 2003, just a few months after graduating high school.
“I was working at a convenience store in Twin City when a multiple vehicle accident occurred on Highway 80, in front of my workplace. I witnessed Twin City volunteer firefighters respond to the scene. After the firefighters cleared the scene, a couple of them came into the store and I asked them what it would take to join the fire department. I was told to fill out an application at city hall and someone would be in touch with me. I did exactly that and I guess you can say the rest is history,” Neal recalled.
As an appraiser, Neal’s most joyful part about his job is having the opportunity to meet many new people around the county. A plus to his current role when speaking to Neal was not being stuck behind a desk all day long. Instead, Neal spends most of his days conducting inspections of various types of property, including new and existing homes, mobile homes, commercial properties, and land to ensure the accuracy of property records; determining construction type, quality, and condition of structures; measuring and photographing structures and following procedures to determine fair market value of properties; and communicating with property owners and answering questions they may have about the laws governing property valuation and the appraisal process.
His most enjoyable moments as a volunteer firefighter is having the opportunity to do his part in giving back to the community.
Education and training
For both professions, as an appraiser and firefighter, Neal has to meet yearly training hour requirements to keep his certifications current and he does just that. Neal obtained his bachelor’s degree in justice studies from Georgia Southern University. In addition, he has fulfilled the requirement to ensure all firefighter, first responder, and correctional officer certifications in the State of Georgia are current. Since taking his role as an appraiser, Neal has completed mass appraisal training courses with the Georgia Department of Revenue and is currently receiving fee appraisal training with the Georgia MLS Training Institute.
Neal addresses the community
“Being an appraiser is a tough job. It is not my goal to make tax bills increase. My job is to ensure that property valuations are fair and equal. Please be kind.
Being a volunteer firefighter is also tough but very rewarding. The number of volunteer firefighters has decreased over the years and there is a huge need for new fire department members. I would encourage anyone that has considered joining their local fire department to do so today!”
Neal is a husband to his wife, Nicky, a stepfather to 7-year-old Layton Lindsey, and soon to be father. The couple anticipate welcoming their child into the world in October 2021. When not appraising property for the county or responding to emergency calls, Neal’s hobbies include fishing, hunting, and working on projects.