The Hazlehurst Board of Aldermen met last Tuesday evening for their first meeting of a brand new board term. One of the first items to come before the board resulted in a split with Mayor Henry Banks casting the deciding vote.
Aldermen split 2-2 over the appointment of city department heads, which is usually the first action of any new board term. Aldermen Ron Sims and Daryl McMillian voted nay, while Alderman Frank Jones abstained.
Mayor Banks broke the tie by siding with Aldermen Richard Akin and Shirley Sandifer to appoint the following:
Mayor Pro Tem Richard B. Akin; City Clerk Sue Brown; Deputy Clerks Brenda Slay and Pamela Wilbert; Municipal Judge Jim Shannon; Judge Pro-Tem Jeff Varas, Vickie Ramsey and Dudley Lampton; Court Clerk Bridgett Evans; Chief of Police Byron Swilley, Assistant Chief Darian Murray; Fire Chief Gabriel Harvey; Communications Director Greg Kramer; Street Commissioner Frank Pickering, Assistant Street Commissioner Harold Watts; City Attorney Bryant and Rutland; Public Defender M.A. Bass; Water and Sewer Superintendent Lloyd Hilliard; Summer Parks Director Curley Linson; Building Inspector Robert H. Freeman; Youth Advisory Committee Corey Sutton, Rev. Christopher Perkins, Senior Class President of Hazlehurst High School, Mayor Pro-Tem (Appointee).
HOME GRANT HEARING
The board took action to close out the current HOME grant in preparation for applying for the next round of funding.
A public hearing will be held on Thursday, July 16, at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall. Anyone interested in applying for the HOME grant is encouraged to attend this hearing and fill out an application.
The HOME program can provide new housing for qualifying homeowners who meet certain income and ownership requirements.
A cleanup hearing was set for the next board meeting on the Marie Green property. Cleanup letters were discussed for other properties on King Street and Georgetown Street. No public comment was heard during the cleanup hearing on the Eddie Tillman estate on Monticello Street, so the aldermen voted to clean up the property and bill the cost to the taxes.
The resignation of Marcus O’Quinn was accepted. Anita Dudley was hired as uncertified police officer in the vacancy. The board discussed the turnover in the police department and authorized the chief to look at the pay scale and other conditions.
A $250 donation from McDonald’s was accepted for the Public Safety Community Day, which is planned by the police department.
The board authorized the attorney to make an enhanced offer on a second piece of property for the location of a new water well. The city has acquired an option on another site that would require more expensive transmission installation if the water needs treatment, which won’t be known until the well is drilled, pointed out board attorney Olen Bryant. The second site would give the city an option closer to existing water lines.
Gwendolyn Perry was hired part time in the water department.
Payment of legal fees out of the sewer grant was authorized for right of way work.
The board briefly discussed the details of the new water ordinance to bring new alderman Ron Sims up to speed. The city has had to increase fees for deposits and disconnects due to the fact that so many customers are moving and leaving behind delinquent accounts. Water Superintendent Lloyd Hilliard explained that the city’s old fee structure did not cover the costs when people move out, thus the city keeps getting further behind in with delinquent accounts.
The board will meet again on Thursday, July 16, at 6 p.m. Citizens are reminded of the HOME grant public hearing on July 16 at 3:30 p.m.