MARY ANN ANDERSON
Last Thursday’s regular monthly meeting of the Hazlehurst City Council moved along smoothly and quickly, with a host of motions passing unanimously, including funding half of an upgraded dispatch system for Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County Fire-Rescue.
“For some time, we’ve been having issues with our paging system as far as paging our firefighters out to calls,” Chief Charles Wasdin explained to the Council. “We’ve been having this issue for some time where a lot of my people don’t hear their pages.”
Wasdin said that there is “something in Hazlehurst” that is stopping his department’s transmission frequency from getting dispatches to some of his employees when there is an emergency.
“Before it was going from the tower at the 911 center out to the public safety tower and back through repeaters,” he said. “It will not penetrate part of the county. It will penetrate, but it is very difficult, very scratchy, and sometimes it doesn’t set the pagers off.”
Wasdin’s department has been working since earlier this month on a trial basis with eDispatches, a company that offers emergency dispatches through mobile telephones, either via tone or text, and that would reach every employee of his department.
If the program is successful, Wasdin hopes that it will one day take place of the aging pager system.
“It’s a great tool,” he concluded of eDispatches. “We love it. It’s a fantastic tool so far.”
The council voted unanimously to split the cost with Jeff Davis County, paying half of the $2,347 for the first year and then $2,100 a year afterward.
“It’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen in technology,” said Ward 2 Councilman John Ramay, who is the City’s liaison with Wasdin’s department. “Anything that we can do to make our people more efficient and of better service to our community, this is tremendous.”
In other action, the Council ….
…. in the absence of City Attorney Ken W. Smith and Ward 4 Councilman John Bloodworth, who were out of town Thursday, listened as City Clerk Vernice Thompson, under Smith’s direction, gave the second reading of an ordinance that approved annexation into the City of the golf course and wastewater treatment plant and their public rights of way. The ordinance was unanimously approved.
…. after hearing Thompson give the second reading of an amendment to the original ordinance authorizing event permits for the sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink for consumption off the licensed premises by a licensed alcoholic beverage caterer and the licensing of alcoholic beverage caterers, also unanimously approved the amendment. The amendment was signed at almost the last hour on Thursday night before it was needed on Friday morning for the wine vendors who came to Hazlehurst’s South Georgia Food and Wine Festival to legally begin selling their wine.
…. unanimously approved a resolution, for local planning requirements, to adopt “Steamboats to Semis: Rooted in Heritage, Driven for Development,” the Jeff Davis County, City of Hazlehurst and City of Denton Joint Comprehensive Plan as reviewed by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission.
…. approved September’s departmental reports, water and sewer adjustments, and check register for bills previously paid.
…. after hearing a request from Laura Bloom, director of the Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County Joint Development Authority and Chamber of Commerce, approved the route, activities and date of the annual Christmas parade, this year to be held at 6 p.m. on Dec. 11.
….. in the Citizens Comments section, Richard Nelms of First Baptist Church had concerns about drinking getting out of hand, “like River Street” [in Savannah] at the South Georgia Food and Wine Festival held over the weekend. Mayor Bayne Stone offered assurances that the festival would be a “controlled situation,” with Ramay promising him that it would be patrolled by the Hazlehurst Police Department, adding, “We’re not trying to create drunks, that’s for sure.” In a follow-up phone call on Monday to Captain James Mock of HPD, the Ledger learned that not a single arrest or disturbance was recorded and that the crowds were exceptionally well-behaved.