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February 15--  The city of Vidalia is working its way through a long list of abandoned houses which need to be restored or demolished to improve the appearance of city neighborhoods.

City Marshal Sean Oliver oversees the program and gave the city council a status report at Monday night's council meeting.

"Over the years we've had a lot of houses that have become vacant and dilapidated.  Many of the folks who own these houses don't have the money to demolish the houses so the city came up with a plan and money to get some of these houses down.  Over the past six years, we've demolished about 160 houses," Oliver says.

In 2003, the city council allocated $250,000 to remove the old buildings.  However, Oliver says owners have to repay the demolition charges.

"The owner is billed and must pay a quarter of the cost within 30 days and thereafter must pay 25 percent each year until it is paid for," he reports.

Oliver says the city currently has 29 active cases and is prepared to pursue others.

"We get a lot of phone calls and complaints about houses.  Also we make our own rounds looking for these kind of houses," he says.

In other actions, the council agreed to discuss a trade of property with Toombs County.  The newly formed North Toombs Volunteer Fire Department would like to move the former Vidalia fire department building on McIntosh Street to Old Normantown Road.  The city said it may be interested in trading the building for the county-owned voting precinct building on Morris Street.

The council also appointed Anthony Miller to the board of the Vidalia Housing Authority.