City Council approves Food Pantry demolition

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Members of the Swainsboro City Council convened for their monthly meeting on Monday, October 3, at 6 p.m. at City Hall with all members present. Nicholas Roberts with Consuming Fire Ministries gave the night’s invocation, and the pledge of allegiance was recited by all. Council then reviewed minutes from the September 27 meeting and passed a motion to accept the minutes as presented.

Old Business:

•Council considered the five-minute rule for citizens addressing the council. Councilperson Davis made a motion to approve the five-minute rule for anybody approaching the council. The vote passed 4-2.

•Kristin Hall with the Downtown Development Authority Committee presented the committee's recommendation regarding the Main Street Market and Food Pantry Buildings. Hall explained that the DDA met on September 19 and toured the main street market area regarding significant flooding issues that was found there. She explained that the flooding is causing extensive damage to vendors that are located within the market and to the building itself and the Food Pantry building which is located next door is in terrible shape and needs demolishing. She recommended to council that there is enough money in the DDA account to cover the demolition of the building and that it should be considered. Councilperson Parker then asked: “Once that building is demolished will that property be given back to the city, or will that small piece of property be reserved by the DDA?” Hall responded by saying that she believes that would be a conversation for both the DDA and the council to have together. She also added that she thinks it is a technicality that DDA is the owner of that property for grant purposes, but ultimately the City still owns it which is why DDA must recommend this issue to Council. Mayor Bennett asked Hall if the DDA has obtained a price for the demolition to which she and the City Administrator, Melissa Kirby, responded with the city’s public works partner, ClearWater Solutions. However, ClearWater has not provided them with a quote or estimate yet because they’re not sure how much it’ll cost to haul the debris off after demolition. Councilperson Parker motioned to approve the demolition of the Food Pantry building and all other councilmembers approved this motion 6-0.

•Council considered an alcoholic beverage license application for Shaishav Patel Cruz dba A & D Mart LLC located at 504 East Main Street, for approval. Councilperson Stafford made a motion to approve, Councilperson Davis seconded, and all other members unanimously approved.

•Council approved the sealed bids for the advertised city surplus properties as follows: 408 Gumlog Street - $565; 409 Howard Street - $3,330; Seven properties on King Circle Drive - $2,550; Lake Luck Drive - $3,000; Lake Luck Drive - $1,500; North Green Street - $1,001; North Green Street – No Bid; Sycamore Street - $4,200; Lewis Street - $1.00; Brown Street - $1,500.

•Council considered two RFPs bids that were received for the gym project. They chose to go with BAK. Councilperson Parker motioned and Councilperson Collins seconded the approval for this project to commence.

•Council considered the RFQs received for on-call engineering services. Three council members were present for that procurement where they interviewed seven different firms from 10:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Council unanimously passed the vote to use Roberts Engineering instead of Turnipseed as their on-call engineering services.

•Jerome Bynes with Veterans Recycling Community Services addressed the council regarding an update on the center. After providing with an update on the Veterans Recycling Center, Bynes requested Council to approve a renewal lease for another 29 days of use for the property, with the property’s business address to be included. He also inquired borrowing and maintaining the cities forklift for the center’s utilization. Bynes request was unanimously approved.

•Matthew Bright addressed the council regarding the drainage issues at the 245 Brown Street and 167 Gumlog Road properties. Debbie Hudson Dubberly addressed the council regarding the drainage issue at Durden Hudson Mortuary. They were both advised that the city had approved the hiring of a new engineer service at the night’s meeting and advised that further action would resume as soon as possible.

•Council considered the contract with Appalachian Mountain Services, Inc for the collection of delinquent ad valorem taxes. Council unanimously voted not to enter contract with Appalachian Mountain Services, Inc. for collection of delinquent ad valorem taxes and instead, allow the work to be performed in-house by city personnel.

New Business:

•Chris Morton with Clearwater Solutions addressed council regarding the soft starts at the Wastewater Treatment Plant as well as the purchase of a used MACK Truck. Council unanimously approved the purchase of eight soft starts for $17,600 and the purchase of a new MACK Truck for $150,000 or less.

•Chief Randy Ellison will request council consider hiring Courtney Wilkerson. Council approved SPD Chief Randy Ellison’s request to hire Courtney Wilkerson as a full-time employee at the Betty Gambrel Animal Shelter.

•Blue Denhan addressed the council regarding a comment made related to the animal shelter by the humane society in the August 2022 City Council meeting. He claimed that the comment questioned his wife’s integrity at her full-time job. He further inquired Jon Levis on the meaning of tangible property as it was a comment that was also said in the previous meeting.

•Jacquline W. Brantley addressed council regarding a dilapidated house next door to her property. Ms. Brantley requested help in controlling grass and weeds and other vegetation creating a nuisance and a health hazard from snakes and rats that are threatening her property. Mayor Bennett advised that he have someone assist with the problem and have the overgrown weeds and grass cut.

•Council unanimously approved a final invoice payment to Oliver Manor in the approximate amount of $15,000.

•Discussion was conducted regarding legal matters and scheduling payment of a settlement reached with Jacobs Engineering/OMI and the City of Swainsboro.

•Mayor Bennett requested council’s concurrence on entering negotiations to revise intergovernmental agreements with the County. Affected departments would be animal shelter, recreation, and airport. No action was taken following decision to postpone.

•Council’s agenda called for discussion on the upcoming budget. No action was taken on budget deliberations. Nevertheless, council did proceed with setting the millage rate for the 2023 budget at 14.191

Executive Session

As of Tuesday morning, this newspaper did not receive information pertaining to Monday night’s executive session. The Forest-Blade will provide all details including any and all action taken as a result of this closed session when they are made available by City officials.

If you would like more details on Monday nights meeting, please visit our Emanuel County Live Facebook page for the live footage that was taken throughout the session, for a more in-depth experience.

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