By TOMMY PURSER
At a called meeting Monday night, the Hazlehurst City Council put on hold a decision on whether or not to proceed with the project to run water lines to the Beasley Forest Company site on the Uvalda Highway.
But it wasn’t easy.
Mayor Bayne Stone heatedly expressed his frustration that, verbally, he was told Beasley would donate $350,000 to the project but that amount was reduced to $200,000 after management at the company took a closer look at the costs.
In a letter sent to the Mayor, Beasley Group Vice President of Administrative Services Phil Jarriel explained that it was determined that Beasley could build a privately-owned water tank for $150,000-$200,000 and that a water pump, lines, etc. would have to be financed by Beasley no matter if they installed a tank themselves or partnered with the city to have a 12-inch line run to the Uvalda Highway site.
“We prefer the option of teaming up with the City since it also helps many other citizens of our community,” Jarriel said in the letter.
But the Mayor was not persuaded, saying before the meeting, “This is the most frustrated and saddest that I’ve ever approached a meeting.”
Ward 2 Council Member John Ramay echoed Stone’s viewpoint saying he was “extremely disappointed with the Beasley corporation and its management …. they are trying to renege on their commitment.”
But the other three council members Ward 1’s Dywane Johnson, Ward 3’s Eric Thornton and Ward 4’s John Bloodworth tempered Stone’s anger, pointing out the benefits to the city and its future expansion if they proceeded with the project.
“I think the project would benefit the community, not just Beasley,” Bloodworth said.
Johnson added, “I admire this council for helping create jobs and Beasley is doing that.”
Griffin also argued in favor of trying to work out a plan with the Beasley Group, also citing the future advantages for the city. “We need to sit down and look at this closely,” he said.
“We need to let them know that we want to help them,” Johnson added, “and we want them to grow.”
Still, Stone and Ramay both argued in favor of getting the city out of the project
Finally, Ramay relented and agreed with calls to bring all the parties together to arrive at a conclusion.
Stone eventually washed his hands of the matter and asked that the council make the decision.
With that, Ramay moved to lay the matter on the table contingent on bringing up that new negotiations be involved. Bloodworth seconded and the council voted unanimously to table the matter.
Stone, who had been working on the project alone, added that he wanted the full council and full corporate leadership together before the council talks about the matter again.
By TOMMY PURSER