MARY ANN ANDERSON
The Hazlehurst City Council, in last Monday’s short 15-minute workshop and last Thursday’s regular meeting, passed several motions that took care of end-of-the-year housekeeping including approving annual training and meeting schedules.
But the meetings were also the last of Ward 3 Councilman Eric Griffin, who served in the elected post for the past 8 years.
In his final speech as councilman, Griffin thanked the citizens of Ward 3 for electing him, stating that not only did he serve his ward but also everybody in the City of Hazlehurst.
“Thank you very much for allowing me to serve,” he said. “Don’t think I’m done, because I’m not. I’ll be back. I’m not going to go away.”
As Mayor Bayne Stone, Ward 1 Councilman Dywane Johnson and Ward 2 Councilman John Ramay looked on – Ward 4 Councilman John Bloodworth was not at the meeting – Griffin clarified, “I’m going to try to stay involved, if possible, with the Joint Development Authority and the Chamber as well as the city and county. There are a lot of things that we can still accomplish as a whole working together. The key to that is working together. It’s not about individuality. It’s not about what’s better for me or this ward or that ward. It’s about what’s better for the citizens of Jeff Davis County and Hazlehurst as a whole.”
Griffin did not seek reelection for his council seat because he put his hat in the ring for the mayor’s seat in last month’s municipal elections. He and Stone were the only candidates for mayor, with Stone emerging as the victor.
At the end of Thursday’s meeting, Stone presented Griffin a plaque for his service and also thanked him for running a “fair campaign” and a “good race,” with the plaque reading in its entirety: “Presented to Commissioner Eric D. Griffin on behalf of the citizens of Hazlehurst. Thank you for serving 8 years as Ward 3 commissioner. Your service was greatly appreciated for the City of Hazlehurst, Georgia, 2011-2019.”
Also during the meeting, Andrea Taylor, president and CEO of the Joint Development Authority, and Shannon Kight of the Chamber of Commerce, recognized entry winners of the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored annual Christmas parade, an event that Stone called “absolutely one of the best, prettiest and best arranged Christmas parades we’ve ever encountered … it was outstanding.”
Taylor and Kight presented what Taylor termed “five standout entries” in the parade that had as its theme “There’s no place like home for Christmas.”
“We felt these five entries really embraced that theme and did a great job,” said Taylor before awarding them to Grace Community Church, Family Healthcare Connections and Hazlehurst Pediatrics, 5-6-7-8 Dance Academy, and Kiwanis Club of Jeff Davis County, with Hillcrest Baptist Church selected as the overall standout.
In other action, the council ….
…. listened as Stone gave an update on the long-awaited waterline being built to Beasley Forest Products on Highway 221 North. He said that while the project is “coming along real well,” the city “hit a stump” with the Environmental Protection Agency on a portion of the project near North Gill Street. He said the city may have to slightly change the route of the waterline, depending on working out issues with the EPA, but assured the council that while the project may slow down a bit, it would continue as planned.
…. briefly discussed but made no formal motions on the ongoing project to replace and repair city fire hydrants and construct a new water well.
…. heard an update from Stone and Airport Manager Cody White on the $2.4 million airport resurfacing project. Stone pointed out that included in the project are a complete runway and apron resurfacing and construction of a tie-in exit ramp from the taxiway to the runway.
…. also listened as Stone gave a positive update on the building of the Georgia State Patrol station on U.S. Highway 341 South, with his adding that the earliest it can be open is May 1.
…. in yet another update, Stone pointed out that several accidents have occurred at the Collins Street and Pat Dixon Road roundabout and discussed the need for better lighting at that intersection, with Griffin adding that the installation of cement dividers and reflectors could also help deter accidents.
…. in the Citizens’ Comments section, after hearing Rhonda Walsh bring up the need for a traffic signal at the intersection of Jarman and Gill streets because of many accidents and near-misses, Stone and Ramay both said that the Georgia Department of Transportation had completed a survey there and determined that it does not qualify for a traffic light. But both Stone and Ramay assured Walsh that they were looking at other avenues, with Stone promising, “We’re going to get a traffic light there. Just give me time.”
…. agreed to pay the annual fee of $350 to Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission for assistance in collecting delinquent insurance business licenses.
…. agreed to pay expenses for the mayor, council and city clerk to attend mandatory training at the Georgia Municipal Association’s Cities United Summit, formerly Mayor’s Day, in Atlanta from January 24-27, 2020. The council also agreed to foot the bill for up to six representatives of the City, at a cost of $150 per person, to attend Okefenokee Occasion in Atlanta from January 14-16. Okefenokee Occasion, an annual event sponsored by the 17 counties of the Southern Georgia Regional Commission, provides networking opportunities with local community leaders and the legislature to discuss needs and special projects for the area.
…. approved the 2020 meeting schedule for the City Council, with regular monthly meetings to be held on the third Thursday of each month and workshops to be held on the Monday prior to the monthly meeting.
…. okayed November’s minutes of the council meeting and workshop, water and sewer adjustments, departmental reports and check register for bills already paid.
…. after hearing from Fire Chief Charles Wasdin, agreed to return a podium and 2002 Hallmark trailer, now owned by the Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis Fire Department, to the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs (GAFC) and Georgia State Firefighters Association (GSFA). Wasdin, who is currently president of GAFC, pointed out that grants from those organizations, not local tax money, were used to buy the trailer in 2001. He will present the podium and trailer back to the associations at the end of his term as president.
…. in the Mayor and Councilmen’s Comments section, at the request of Ward One Councilman Dywane Johnson, approved the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade to be held on January 18, 2020.
The next regularly scheduled workshop of the Hazlehurst City Council is Monday, January 13, 2020, with the monthly meeting to be held Thursday, January 16, 2020. Both are held in the conference room at City Hall at 6 p.m.