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Chaos Reigns Supreme — By Tommy Purser

I’ve written in this space no less than five times in recent years about the chaos reigning supreme with the Hazlehurst City Council.
Last Thursday night’s meeting of the Council was among the most chaotic attempts at governing I’ve seen in more than 50 years of watching governing bodies operate.
I didn’t know whether to laugh at the absurdity of it all, or cry at the council’s repetitive ineptitude. Something needs to change. The council has had years to correct its dysfunction but, with each subsequent meeting, the chaos seems to get worse.
I felt so sorry for Harold Whitfield of Whitfield Realty who went to Thursday’s meeting to get a simple, no-brainer request approved. The matter Harold brought before the council could have been handled in less than 60 seconds. But the council managed to spend almost an hour trying to understand what Harold was asking of them. I got the sense that everyone else in the meeting room understood the matter. Judging by the body language exhibited in the audience, most of the people in the room seemed befuddled by the council’s inability to understand a simple request.
To me, it seemed that Harold was the most befuddled. I suspect he came to the meeting expecting a quick in-and-out and he’d be home in plenty of time for supper. Boy, was he wrong!
When he finally got what he came for, Harold gathered up his things and left.
Then things began to head downhill from there.
Joint Development Authority (JDA) Executive Director Laura Bloom was next on the agenda to give the council a final update on the project to provide a large waterline to the Thompson Hardwoods site on the Baxley Highway, a project the JDA, the Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission, city and state officials have been working on for more than six months. The questions council members asked of Laura made it seem like some of them had never heard of the project. OneGeorgia was willing to give $500,000 toward the project, the county through the JDA was putting $250,000 in, the Beasley Group which owns Thompson Hardwoods was donating funds but the project was still $100,000 short of the necessary funding for the almost $1 million project. At one point it looked as if the council was not going to help with the project and the JDA was looking at having to contact OneGeorgia and turn down the $500,000 of assistance.
Finally, as if a lightbulb went off in the council’s head, the assistance was approved on a 4-1 vote.

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