MARY ANN ANDERSON
After years of delays, the installation of Hazlehurst’s newest traffic light at the intersection of North Miller Street and U.S. Highway 341 has again been given the green light, long after having been approved by the Hazlehurst City Council in October of 2010.
During last week’s workshop and regular monthly meeting of the city council, Mayor R. Bayne Stone said that it would be spring of 2019 before the much-needed and much-anticipated traffic light can be installed. He said half-jokingly in the workshop that the city would have to “scratch, scrape, beg, and plead” to get the light funded, but that it’s in the works.
The restaurant chain Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is also coming to the southeast corner of that intersection, in the lot directly across from Dairy Queen. Stone said that Popeyes chose that high-traffic location, in part, because the light will be installed there.
The city requested updated plans and modifications for the light from the Georgia Department of Transportation. The updates came from the DOT within 30 days, but, Stone pointed out, part of the reason for the long installation delay is that the light poles must be custom designed and built to that specific site.
Stone then said estimates for completion of both the traffic light and restaurant are about the same time in March.
In other action, the council ….
…. during last Monday’s workshop, heard an update from Fire Chief Charles Wasdin as he gave a snapshot of activity during Hurricane Michael. He said that Jeff Davis County “made it through the storm real well” and that the county “fared a lot better than we did last year” during Hurricane Irma in September 2017. He also added that since damage from Michael was minimal, neither the city nor the county qualified under federal or state guidelines for assistance or debris removal.
…. heard from Airport Manager Cody White who said that he had been informed by Kevin Britton, president of the Georgia Airports Association (GAA), that Hazlehurst Municipal Airport has been bestowed with the “Project of the Year” award for the construction of the recently completed parallel runway. The award will be given this Friday at the GAA’s annual conference at Jekyll Island. Croy Engineering, the city’s partner in the project, will share in the honor.
…. heard a presentation by Rory Chaney, who with her husband Joel has recently purchased the old Collins Loan building at the corner of Tallahassee and Latimer streets, on working with other individuals and organizations to restore and revitalize downtown with high hopes of bringing retail outlets, restaurants, offices, and apartments to the area.
…. listened as Stone briefly discussed the current general fund budget crunch, saying the city needs to “manage some way to cut thousands of dollars” to meet its obligations. He added that the Water Department budget is “strong” and that cuts to the general fund will need to be made to get it “just as strong” as the Water Department’s.
…. had a brief discussion, led by Public Works Director Carl Leggett, on recent cleanup and refurbishing at the wastewater treatment plant, with Stone adding that the plant is in “jam-up condition” and operating as well as it ever has.
…. tabled an agenda item to use hot-mix asphalt to patch city streets until costs can be estimated.
…. again heard from Stone on updates for Captain D’s Seafood Kitchen that is to be built just south of Dick’s Wings. Stone said the contracts for the restaurant are “signed and delivered,” and that a canal that lies behind that property will need to be repaired or moved for better drainage.
…. listened as Stone and Natasha Bennett of Smith and Bennett, the city attorney’s office, said that the city will work closely with the Downtown Development Authority and Georgia Department of Community Affairs to find funding and grants for about $300,000 to purchase additional real estate on Johnson Street and to repair other buildings located in the municipal complex.
.… passed a motion for Stone to sign documentation to receive a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant for revamping and rebuilding old water lines.
…. agreed to amend the bylaws of the city-owned Twisted Pine Golf Course to drop the number of advisory board members from nine to seven and also agreed for Bennett to meet with the board to update the bylaws.
…. discussed the application for a Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) loan, with Stone saying that GEFA would provide $460,000 of debt retirement against any loan the city makes. The loan proceeds will be used for Water Department improvements for its wells, tanks, and waterlines. Stone estimates that one-third to one-half of the loan would be forgiven under GEFA’s terms.
…. approved departmental reports, water and sewer adjustments, and check register for September.
…. after hearing a request from City Clerk Vernice Thompson, agreed to attend a Reaching Potential through Manufacturing (RPM) meeting in Augusta Nov. 26 and the fall meeting of District 9 of the Georgia Municipal Association at Little Ocmulgee State Park in McRae Oct. 30.
… during the work session, met in closed session to discuss personnel and legal matters, which resulted in passing a motion to issue a 60-day temporary building permit to James Earl Cray for renovations on the Empact Center on Latimer Street.