MARY ANN ANDERSON
The new year for the Hazlehurst City Council has already proved to be challenging with a fruit-basket turnover of changing meeting dates. The regular monthly meeting, normally scheduled for the third Thursday of each month with the workshop held on the Monday immediately preceding it, was moved up by a week so Mayor Bayne Stone and the entire council could attend the Cities United Summit and mandated training with the Georgia Municipal Association beginning Jan. 20.
But after last Monday night’s workshop, at 35 minutes one of the shortest in recent months and which may or may not have been because of the approaching Georgia-Alabama National Championship matchup later that evening, Stone Wednesday morning called off Thursday’s regular meeting — and closed City Hall to foot traffic until further notice because several employees tested positive for COVID-19. He then postponed the meeting until this Jan. 20, when it would have originally been scheduled, as the date became free again when the entire council cancelled their trip to the GMA summit and training because of the continuing onslaught of coronavirus.
If you have been keeping up with all of the date adjustments, that means the City Council, barring any other unforeseen circumstances, will meet on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the conference room at City Hall.
Last week’s workshop, though, went off without a hitch, as the council, without Ward 4 Councilman John Bloodworth who was absent from the meeting, heard a lengthy presentation from Baxley’s John Charles Hobday, who asked that the city grant him two licenses for retail outlets, one to open an alcoholic beverages package store and the other for a CBD shop. Stone told him that the city will be in a position by the first of February to issue licenses for package stores, and then listened as Hobday stated his case for opening the CBD outlet.
CBD is the abbreviation of cannabidiol, a chemical found in marijuana and pulled from hemp, a type of cannabis plant that contains very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana that produces a so-called high. The usual CBD formation is oil. According to Hobday, oil and its variants would be the primary product sold in his shops.
Hobday explained that since the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, the production and sale of CBD products have been legalized on the federal level as long as they contain less than .3 percent of THC.
“My aim is to set up five CBD stores in the area, making Hazlehurst the head office where I hope to have a retail outlet, a wholesale outlet and mail order,” he told the council. “I anticipate the turnover in the next two years between $3-4 million.”
Hobday also noted that the present size of the U.S. market for CBD is now $2.77 billion, with it projected to grow to $55 billion in the next three years. He will be working under “strict, legal standards” with Coastal CBD of South Carolina, which is already supplying 350 independent pharmacists through South Carolina and Georgia. He pointed out that Baxley already has two CDB stores, Hinesville and Vidalia have six each, Jesup with four and Douglas with three. “In Hazlehurst,” he added, “we have zero.”
With Ward 2 Councilman John Ramay calling CBD shops “a new ballgame” for Hazlehurst, City Attorney Ken W. Smith told Hobday he would have an answer by February’s work session of whether the city would grant him a license.
In other action, the council ….
…. after hearing from Hazlehurst Municipal Airport Manager Cody White explain that the airport is set to receive $32,000 for operational costs from the American Rescue Plan Act, authorized Stone to sign the contract to receive the money. The council also approved the installation by Satilla REMC of additional security lighting at the airport at a cost of $60 per month.
…. briefly discussed “crucial” ceiling repairs at the city’s recycling office, with assurances from Stone that work would be underway soon.
…. heard an update from Smith on the title search on the property where the Division of Driver Services new building will be located. He said he “ran into a problem” with the title but expects it will be worked out with the attorney general’s office.
…. agreed to accept an insurance settlement of $32,101 for a totaled 2019 Chevrolet Impala city vehicle that was involved in an accident where Stone was driving but the other driver was at fault.
…. heard a request from City Clerk Vernice Thompson to department heads that it is “imperative” for accounting for purchases, invoices, purchase orders and requisitions to be “streamlined.” The council took no formal vote on the matter.
…. after hearing from Ward 1’s Dywane Johnson, okayed the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade set for January 15.
…. after a discussion among Stone, Ramay and Smith on borrowing funds to finalize a nearly $170,000 settlement, plus attorney’s fees, with Dublin-based Ryland Environmental for the purchase of trash carts and rental time, agreed to make a final decision during the next regular council meeting.