City Denies Mobile Home Request

In one of the shortest meetings in the past few years of the Hazlehurst City Council, one that clocked in at just under a half-hour, Mayor Bayne Stone and the councilmen passed a slew of motions, including denying a request to allow mobile homes to be placed on Jefferson Street within city limits and another approving annual Christmas and safety bonuses for city employees.
The plan for local businessman Olin Wooten, who owns the property on Jefferson Street, to place mobile homes on those lots was stopped in last Thursday night’s regular session.
After hearing opposition arguments in both October and November’s council meetings, the councilmen unanimously voted against the project, primarily citing poor aesthetics and character the mobile homes would bring to Hazlehurst, and that passing it would, as Ward 3 Councilman Eric Griffin pointed out, set a “precedent” to allow other mobile homes inside city limits.
And in another agenda item, with the mayor and council agreeing that finances are tight, they nevertheless approved about $25,000 in Christmas and safety bonuses for employees, with Ward 2 Councilman John Ramay stating that next year’s bonuses are to be reevaluated using “more appropriate methods” than in past years.
In other action during both last Monday’s workshop and Thursday’s regular meeting, the Council ….
…. after lengthy discussions and after hearing from Kenny Green, the chief engineer of Turnipseed Engineering, the city’s engineering firm, agreed to accept a proposal for their services and also sign a loan agreement with the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority for upgrades of the municipal water system, including a new well and water tank, the overhaul of the aged fire hydrant system, and an additional water line for fire suppression to Beasley Forest Products on Highway 221 North.
…. heard a lengthy report in the Monday workshop from Hazlehurst Municipal Golf Course Manager Tony Parise, who Stone said “resurrected” the course in his seven months of employment, even though it has continually lost money ever since the city took over ownership of it from Jeff Davis County several years ago. Parise summed up the report by saying that the city needs to make the course “attractive enough” to invite partners such as the county or Board of Education to help it grow. “We’re trimming the fat,” Parise said, “and we’re getting where we need to go.”
…. listened as Stone explained that Mark Rogers of Henderson & Godbee, the city’s auditing firm of Valdosta, had informed him that they had “problems” getting the most recent audit done and may not be able to “handle” future audits. Stone informed the council that he had asked Rogers to travel to Hazlehurst to see if the two of them could “resolve” those issues, with Rogers agreeing to a meeting but with no firm date set as of yet.
…. approved expenses for the Hazlehurst Fire Department’s Dustin Hyers to travel to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth for the Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations Training from December 9-13; and also for City Clerk Vernice Thompson to travel to Athens for the District 9 Joint Advisory Retreat at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government from December 5-6.
…. approved water and sewer adjustments, departmental reports, and the check register for bills already paid for the period ending October 31.
…. unanimously voted Thanksgiving holidays for city employees, with City Hall closing at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, November 27 until Monday, December 2 at 8 a.m.
…. agreed for Police Chief Ken Williams to apply for a matching grant from USDA Rural Development to buy new computers for his department.
…. agreed for Stone to sign the Airports Capital Improvement Plan and resurfacing contract for a $1.2 million paving and lighting project at Hazlehurst Municipal Airport.
…. discussed but took no action on the city’s health insurance plan, which the mayor called “a sad state of affairs.” Thompson pointed out that in 2019, the city paid $989 per employee per month for health insurance, but that figure will rise to $1,132.32 in 2020 with the added burden to employees of higher deductibles. The city, she added, is paying out $58,880.67 every month for insurance. She also said she’s tried to get quotes from other insurance companies for lower rates but has been unsuccessful.
…. passed a motion for Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis Board of Tourism member Terry Stone to take the lead in getting new city entrance signs built.
…. in the Citizens Comments section of the meeting, former Ward 2 Councilman Tommy Purser took the floor and publicly thanked the council for denying Wooten’s request to place mobile homes in the city, citing Hazlehurst Main Street’s continuing efforts to improve the looks of Hazlehurst. Purser also stated that he had been a part of the project to clean up Serenity Park, one of the city parks that has become overgrown in the past dozen or so years. He rounded out his comments by reminding the council that in regard to the golf course, SPLOST funds could be used only for capital improvements and not operating expenses, which Mayor Stone affirmed.
…. in the Mayor and Councilmen’s section of the meeting, heard an update from Mayor Stone on refurbishing and cleaning the contaminants from the Gill Street water tank to get it back in service.
The next workshop of the Hazlehurst City Council is Monday, December 16, with the regular meeting to follow on Thursday, December 19. Both meetings are held at 6 p.m. in the conference room at City Hall.

Leave a Comment