Members of the Swainsboro City Council convened for their monthly meeting on Monday, December 5, at 6 p.m. at City Hall with all members present. Joe Bedgood with Dellwood Baptist Church gave the night’s invocation, and the pledge of allegiance was recited by all. Council then reviewed minutes from the November 7 and November 15 meeting and passed a motion to accept the minutes as presented.
“The worst thing that can possibly happen to someone, is not dying, it’s being forgotten.” These were the touching words spoken by local Veteran, Johnny Tapley, that rocked Council members and those who attended Monday night’s meeting. As Tapley was invited to address the Council regarding the first item on the agenda’s New Business list, he began his presentation by thanking the first responders in the room who helped place flags at many of our local cemeteries and Pine Brook Nature Park, which is located on the corner of West Main and Tyson Street. Tapley explained that over 700 flags were placed around the County’s cemeteries to indicate to the volunteers of the Wreaths Across America project where a Veteran is buried so that their headstone or gravesite can be provided with a wreath. This project began in September of 2021 when 13 men and women were killed in Afghanistan. “That destroyed a lot of us veterans.” Tapley said through somber eyes. “We put the flags up on our own with our own money and we just changed them this past Friday. That’s our greatest pet peeve because if you can’t fly a flag with color and dignity then you need to cut it down. There are men and women who died for that flag and to ride through this town and see them in the shape that I have seen many of them in, is disgusting.” On December 17, Tapley along with Wreaths Across America will be placing 1,361 wreaths across our county. “No one knows how many veterans are buried in this county. Some of the material I have read is how dying is the worst thing that can happen but dying is not the worst thing that can happen. The worst thing that can happen is to die and be forgotten. There are graves that have been here for one hundred years and the only thing they’ve received are sand spurs and bird droppings. They have no family, so we, the Veterans at the Library, have elected ourselves to be their family.” He said to Council members. Our County is home to over 165 disabled veterans and the total number of veterans who currently call Emanuel County home is far greater. However, there is so much uncertainty on the number of buried veterans throughout our County which spans over 170 cemeteries. “You can’t tell me that there’s not a veteran there at every one of them and our goal is to find those veterans and provide them with a wreath because they deserve that. We are not in this for profit.” He explained. “Last year when I went to Aiken to pick up the wreaths, I asked the Lady who was over the cemetery, how many wreaths she would put out. She looked out over the headstones and said, ‘Johnny, I’ll put out around 676.’ And as she continued to look out at the headstones she said, ‘On Christmas morning, it is a beautiful thing to look out across here and see those wreaths.’ Then she began to cry. Me being a grown man you know what I did, right? I began to cry too. The worst thing is not to die, it’s to be forgotten.” Tapley asked Council to consider maintaining the Early Settlers Cemetery not only for its history within our community but because 97% of the graves there are our veterans. He also presented Council with a petition of signatures that requested Pine Brook Nature Park and Bird Sanctuary be renamed in honor of our veterans and first responders, especially due to its lack of housing birds and being maintained. Councilperson Parker immediately responded with a motion to approve the renaming of the park to Veterans and First Responders Memorial Park, Councilperson Davis seconded, and the vote passed 6-0.
Members of the Swainsboro City Council convened for their monthly meeting on Monday, December 5, at 6 p.m. at City Hall with all members present Joe Bedgood with Dellwood Baptist Church gave the night’s invocation, and the pledge of allegiance was recited by all. Council then reviewed minutes from the November 7 and November 15 meeting and passed a motion to accept the minutes as presented.
1. Council considered the approval of the BAK contracts for the Gumlog Gym and Karrh Theatre projects. A motion was made by Councilperson Parker to fund the theater project as well as the gymnasium with equal amounts sourced from the American Rescue Plan monies and “various entities”. Councilperson Quarterman seconded the vote and it passed 5-1 with Councilperson Sconyers being the opposing vote.
2. Chief Mike Strobridge discussed roofing issues at the fire department’s headquarters. A motion was made by Councilperson Parker to give the job of repairing the roof to Justice-N-Sons LLC. who offered to repair both the roof and interior of the Fire Department for the price of $43,330 with a 20 year warranty. The money for the repairs will be funded through SPLOST monies. Councilperson Sconyers seconded this vote and it unanimously passed between all councilmembers.
3. Council considered the bid for the airport Apron Rehabilitation project. Councilperson Parker made a motion to approve the funding of this project through the DOT grant with the city having to pay half. Quarterman seconded this motion with all other votes being unanimous.
4. Council considered the resolution for the creation of the airport authority. Councilperson Parker made the first motion for approval of getting it passed by legislation and Stafford seconded. The vote passed 6-0.
5. Council considered the intergovernmental agreement for the airport which addressed the establishment of the airport authority and its de-annexation so that the City could push them both through to the 2023 local legislation. Parker made the first motion for the approval of the intergovernmental agreement and Davis seconded. The vote passed 6-0.
6. Council considered proceeding with the de annexation of the airport property. Parker made the first motion and Davis seconded. The vote passed 6-0.
7. Council considered the adoption of the 2023 budget. Councilperson Stafford made the first motion to adopt the 2023 Budget and Councilperson Sconyers seconded.
1. Council considered for advertisement the game room application for Dirghayu V Patel
dba Sarvi Enterprise LLC. otherwise known as RACO, located at 202 East Main Street. Councilperson Parker made the first motion for approval of this advertisement and Councilperson Quarterman seconded. The vote passed unanimously.
3. Council discussed the downtown electrical issues that include over 119 receptacles that need replacing as well as numerous other issues including those that have been caused by LED bulbs not being installed correctly. Councilperson Sconyers made a motion to receive quotes for the restoring of the downtown electrical issues. Councilperson Collins seconded and all other votes passed unanimously.
4. Chief Mike Strobridge presented a quote for the purchase of their personal protective equipment or turnout gear for the Fire Department's newest two employees. He also explained that he has requested that they attend the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in February and that this gear is necessary for them to attend these training sessions. Councilperson Parker made a motion for this approval and Councilperson Collins seconded. All other votes passed unanimously.
5. Chief Randy Ellison presented a quote from West Chatham Warning Devices for the newest patrol cars equipment. Councilperson Parker made a motion for this approval and Councilperson Collins seconded. The vote passed 6-0.
6. Building Inspector Bruce Kirby presented a request for a used truck. A motion was made by Councilperson Davis for the purchase of a new Chevrolet with 212 miles at the price of $46,000 through the funding of the American Rescue Plan. This was the low bid of those presented. Councilperson Parker seconded the vote and it passed unanimously.
7. Council considered the quote in the amount of $49,500, from MW Collins Inc. for inert material grinding at the inert landfill. Councilperson Collins made a motion to spend the money for this project from the Public Works fund. Councilperson Quarterman seconded. The vote passed 6-0. Councilperson Davis made a motion to get a quote for a security gate with a keypad for the landfill and Councilperson Parker seconded the vote.
8. Council considered the approval of the Ponce Electric, Inc. quote in the amount of $16,800 for electrical repairs at the airport. Councilperson Collins made the first motion and Councilperson Stafford seconded. The vote passed 6-0.
9. Council considered advertising to increase council fees with an effective date of January 1, 2024. Councilperson Davis made a motion to increase fees paid to council members to $800 a month. Councilperson Parker seconded the vote and it passed unanimously.
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