Mark Williams spent many summer vacations during his childhood on Jekyll Island while his parents — both educators — attended the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders conference on the island.


During those summer trips, he spent time at Jekyll’s amphitheater, an old structure that sits unused on the island today. He recalled this experience Tuesday at the Rotary Club of St. Simons Island’s meeting, prompted by a question about the current status of renovation plans for the former outdoor theater space.


Williams is one month into his new position as executive director of the Jekyll Island Authority, and he shared updates with the Rotary Club about ongoing projects and upcoming endeavors on Jekyll.

Williams most recently held the title of commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and he shared an overview of the DNR’s operations in the state.


He served as Georgia DNR commissioner since 2010, and he served in the state House of Representatives for District 178 from 2005 to 2010.


A St. Simons resident, Williams said the Jekyll position offers a kinder commute than his DNR job in Atlanta. Opportunity and timing collided to make the new job possible, he said.


“This was really one of those times,” he said. “Jones (Hooks, former director) had done such a great job revitalizing that island.”


Hooks announced his retirement in February, and Williams, whose duties as DNR chairman included serving on the JIA Board of Directors, was chosen as the new director in May.


He said he’s still becoming familiar with the full scope of his new job.

“We have the largest budget ever this year, $43 million, which I’m told is bigger than the city of Brunswick’s, for perspective,” Williams said. “It is a big enterprise over there across the sound.”


There are several exciting projects happening now on Jekyll, he said. A partnership with Mercer University’s School of Medicine will soon come to fruition when Jekyll’s first medical clinic opens in the Beach Village.


The space was renovated by JIA and will be staffed and equipped by Mercer.


“Probably within the next two to three weeks we’ll be opening the first medical clinic on Jekyll,” Williams said. “If you’ve been in the Beach Village, it’s upstairs, but we do have an elevator installed.”


The center will be open seven days a week and will provide primary and urgent care services.


Renovations are also continuing at the Jekyll campground, which include four new bathroom facilities, a new welcome center and six yurts.


Construction also continues on the new public safety facility, and plans are in the works to add a bike path that runs from the island’s welcome center to U.S. 17.


The golf improvement plan is underway, Williams added, and the Pine Lakes course will be closed in coming months for major upgrades.


Renovations on the amphitheater where Williams spent his summers are still being discussed. An RFP was put out to seek an operator, but it received no responses.


Thank You to The Brunswick News