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Council tackles fire hydrant woes

In a rare move by the Hazlehurst City Council, March’s regularly-scheduled workshop and monthly meeting, normally held on two separate evenings, were combined into one lengthy meeting last Monday night because of training schedules and staffing shortages.
No meeting will be held on Thursday evening, the third Thursday evening of the month when regular meetings are normally held.
The council discussed at length with Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County Fire-Rescue Chief Charles Wasdin but made no formal motion to repair or replace 143 issues with the City’s approximately 75 fire hydrants, issues that Ward 2 Councilman John Ramay termed “a critical problem” and Mayor Bayne Stone called “a major problem that’s been festering for years” and that it’s “an expensive ordeal.”
Among those 143 issues are clogged drains, missing hydrants and others that are simply out of service. With Ramay saying that it’s “not a cheap fix” or “an easy fix,” Chris McEachin of the Water Department added his department will be working on the hydrants for the next two years, with the goal of keeping the ISO rating at the four where it is now, but would give an update at the April City Council meeting.
In other action, the council ….
…. After hearing a presentation from Laura Bloom of the Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County Chamber of Commerce and Joint Development Authority, approved a resolution to reactivate the long-shuttered Downtown Development Authority, with the terms of all former board members to expire and name Joel Chaney, Rubi Morfin Stanley, Nikki Moore, Glenn Harris, Casey Williams, Robyn Williams and a City Council elected official to the new Board of Directors, with another resolution approved to amend the terms of those members so that they are staggered every two to four to six years.
…. After hearing from Ward 4 John Bloodworth about restriping roads in his ward, briefly discussed the project but made no formal action to move forward.
…. Heard another long presentation by the Water Department’s Steve Faught, who explained that he was ordering city logos, at a cost of $20 each, to be adhered for uniformity on city vehicles and garbage bins to replace the mishmash of other logos, some from other cities and companies. He also suggested more standardization in the tee-shirts for city employees. And in discussing renovations for Weatherly Park, Faught said that the picnic tables and walking paths are to be repaired and refurbished in conjunction with local civic organizations including the Lions Club and Rotary Club.
…. Heard from local businessman and entrepreneur Robyn Williams, who asked that the “old, moldy, slippery” platform around the caboose at the corner of South Williams and Latimer streets be replaced, and also that the caboose itself be moved to a location he owns near the intersection of Railroad and Tallahassee streets. Williams noted that he had spoken with LaFavor’s Body and Towing of Helena, who indicated the caboose could be moved for $500 per hour, with estimates of 4-5 hours total work on the project. Williams said that he wants to see the caboose brought back “to life.” Ward 1 Councilman Dywane Johnson said he opposes moving the caboose from downtown proper, but several on the council reminded him that it would still be in downtown. Bloodworth suggested tabling the matter and not hurriedly voting on it until it could be discussed in more detail.
…. After hearing City Clerk Vernice Thompson explain that both Federal Emergency Management Agency and Georgia Emergency Management Agency will not allow their grants to pay for equipment, specifically cameras, made in China, modified a previous agreement for the Hazlehurst Police Department to purchase security cameras that are made only in U.S.
…. In the Citizens’ Comments section of the meeting, heard from Steve Land, former Hazlehurst Chief of Police and longtime member of First Baptist Church, who thanked the City for repairing the sidewalks around the church.
…. Approved January’s water and sewer adjustments, departmental reports, financial statements and check registers.
…. After a nearly hourlong epic closed session to discuss an undisclosed real estate matter, the council returned to the courtroom with the announcement of no action taken.

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