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Stone’s Term Comes To An End

By
MARY ANN ANDERSON
Mayor R. Bayne Stone presided over last week’s workshop and regular monthly session of the Hazlehurst City Council for the last time as mayor.
Stone, who served 12 years as mayor from 2008-12 and 2016-24 but was defeated in the last election by former Ward 2 Councilman John Ramay, offered a brief swan song at the end of Thursday night’s meeting, saying, “I would like to request that my statement be the final statement in the minutes for this date. It is my sincere wish that in my tenure as the mayor of the City of Hazlehurst, that for the citizens of Hazlehurst now and those in the future, that I may have done some small thing for something good for the present and future citizens. I’ve enjoyed serving you.”
The council also said goodbye to Ward 3 Councilwoman Diane Bass Leggett and Ward 4’s John Bloodworth, who were also defeated for their seats in the November election. Christopher Jones was elected to serve Ward 3 with Landon Chavis taking the reins for Ward 4.
The council took quick action on several matters during the Monday night workshop, including approving a resolution to accept the language access plan for the fiscal year 2023 Community Development Block Grant for sewage system improvements. The council also agreed for travel expenses for Interim Police Chief James Mock to attend the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police winter training conference in Columbus from Jan. 16-19, 2024.
The agenda item taking the most time was discussing new hangar rates for the city-owned Hazlehurst Municipal Airport. With Manager Cody White saying that rental rates needed to be raised, he also noted, “Our airport still has the lowest rental rates in the area.”
The increase for what White termed “old t-hangars” will rise from $75 a month to $100 in 2024 and $125 in 2025. The shop hangar is now $125 a month but will go up to $150 in 2024 and $175 in 2025. A new corporate hangar, only recently completed, will rent each section separately, with rates of $700 a month for a jet, $500 for a turbo-prop, a twin-engine for $300, and a single engine for $200.
The old corporate hangar that’s been built since the 1960s will be $1,350 per month for 2024 and $1,600 for 2025. That particular hangar, White said, could be leased out in sections and ranges from $100 for office space to $500 per month for a jet.
The council unanimously voted yes to White’s request for the increases.
The Federal Aviation Authority lists 18 aircraft on its registry for Jeff Davis County, ranging from single engines to corporate jets. All hangars are currently leased.
During the regular session on Thursday night, the group okayed October’s water and sewer adjustments, departmental reports, and check register and also approved Jan.13, 2024, at 1 p.m. as the official date and time for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade.
During the citizens’ comments section of the meeting, Jimmy Stevens of Hazlehurst asked the council for a credit or rebate for limbs that had not been picked up from his residence. His contention was that he pays $10 a month for the service, but no pick-up had been made for October and November except for one time, stating that he had spoken to Stone about the matter before adding, “The only excuse I could get was that the truck was broke down.”
Stone explained to Stevens that the while the limb pickup is seasonal, customers are still billed monthly, adding to Stevens, “If you’re expecting once-a-month pickup, it doesn’t work that way.”
Ward 1 Councilman Dywane Johnson then told Stevens that while the issue is something that needs to be addressed and rectified, it may fall to the incoming Hazlehurst City Council in January as one of the first things that will be discussed.
Bloodworth then made a motion to credit Stevens $20 for two months, but the motion didn’t get a second. Stone then quickly explained that while it’s been “a heck of a problem,” and that the city can’t afford two limb trucks, he summed up that part of the meeting by saying, “It’s been a mess, and it’s been a headache.”
Also in citizens’ comments, Fire Chief Charles Wasdin added his department has recently been awarded two grants and has applied for another.
The swearing-in of newly-elected officials, including John Ramay as mayor, Jones and Chavis is Jan. 2, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. in the conference room at Hazlehurst City Hall. The public is invited.

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