MARY ANN ANDERSON
The Hazlehurst City Council was busy last week, kicking off with Monday night’s regularly-scheduled work session. The meeting was held at the Georgia State Patrol station on U.S. Highway 341 South to discuss issues with the 30-item punch list for the building. The council, minus absentees Dywane Johnson of Ward 1 and Ward 2’s John Bloodworth, went into a nearly hourlong and sometimes contentious discussion as to the completion of the punch list so that the GSP can finally move in.
The list, which covered everything from how the asphalt was poured in the parking lot to drywall repairs to the lack of bathroom mirrors, was prepared by David Goodhead of DG Construction Consulting, Inc., of Temple.
“Whatever it takes, I want to see us get it done,” said Ward 2 Councilman John Ramay, who spearheaded the discussion. “Whatever it takes or costs, we got to get this off our hands and into the ones of the [GSP] … We want them 100 percent satisfied of what they’re going to be taking over.”
Even after the long, drawn-out discussion, with copious input from Ramay, Stone, City Code Enforcer and Building Inspector Charles Harrell, James Clark and Dean Joyce of the Construction Unit of the Georgia Department of Corrections, and Joey Hiers of Georgia Asphalt in Baxley, who has the asphalt contract, the council ended up tabling the agenda item until a later date.
In other action during the workshop, the Council ….
…. also tabled three other items, including submission of grant paperwork for the Hazlehurst Police Department at the request of Chief Ken Williams, discussing the golf course at the request of Leggett, and a discussion of repairs needed at the Public Works building.
…. after hearing a request by Ramay to return land to the Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County Joint Development Authority that had been deeded to the City for building the new Division of Driver Services facility, and because another location for the facility has been potentially agreed upon, tabled that matter, too.
…. after hearing from Christopher Jones of Hazlehurst, who gave a photo presentation on how East Plum Street in Ward 2 has very little to no lighting and is “not a great area to walk in, much less drive in” and “just not really, really safe” because of the darkness, was assured by Stone that he would work with department heads at Public Works to make the area less dangerous.
…. voted yes to year-end employee Christmas bonuses, sick leave and safety bonuses totaling $25,770.64.
…. approved a resolution to apply for a 2022 Community Development Block Grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for up to $750,000 to assist in funding costs associated with sewer improvements on Hatton Still Road.
Thursday’s regular meeting, held at City Hall, was corralled by a yet another long discussion on whether to transfer ownership of local hotel and motel sales tax revenue to the city from the county, who had been collecting it and using for tourism purposes for almost the past three decades. Please see the full story elsewhere in this week’s Ledger.
In other action during Thursday’s meeting, the Council ….
…. after a request in a previous called meeting to Lizz Smoak, consultant for the City-owned Twisted Pine Golf Course and Hazlehurst Community Center, for a report on the current conditions of both entities, listened as she presented a 29-page report she prepared that provides details on the new golf course board, financial projections, before and after photos of improvements to the facilities since she took over in June, and goals for both the golf course and civic center. Ramay thanked her for a “thorough and intense report,” with Bloodworth also thanking her and telling her, “It changes my stance on things, too.”
…. after the second reading by City Attorney Ken W. Smith of the ordinance allowing retail package sales of distilled spirits, with the first reading in November, unanimously approved it. The council also noted the application process for those planning to open a liquor store should be in place at the earliest by February.
…. after Hazlehurst Municipal Airport Manager Cody White recommended that Croy Engineering of Marietta be rehired as the city’s engineering consultant, unanimously voted for his request.
…. agreed for the Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission to assist with the collection of 2022 insurance license fees.
…. voted to approve a probation supervisory contract for Hazlehurst Municipal Court with Judicial Alternatives of Georgia.
…. agreed to pay an invoice of $40,000 to Benjamin Concrete for labor costs for repairs to the accident-damaged roundabout at Collins Street and Pat Dixon Road, a project Ramay termed “a tremendous improvement” over the previous roundabout. The cost of concrete and other materials was borne by the City.
…. heard from Deputy Clerk Lorrie Williams, who asked the Council for roof repairs at the Public Works building because of “terrible, terrible” and “very unhealthy” problems with black mold, water leaks and fallen tiles. She said that the total cost would be under $5,000. Ward 3 Councilwoman Diane Leggett suggested that Public Works instead move into the city-owned building at the corner of Jefferson and Cromartie streets. Stone asked that the matter be placed on the agenda for January’s meetings.
…. discussed but made no formal vote on the mayor, council and city clerk to attend the Georgia Municipal Association’s Cities United Summit in Atlanta from Jan. 20-24 for mandatory training.
…. approved last month’s minutes, departmental reports to council, water and sewer adjustments and check register for bills previously paid.
…. after a request by Leggett to go into closed session, came back into regular session with the announcement that no action was taken at that time.