March 13-- It's been seven months since Hurricane Irma damaged six streets in Vidalia and at least one citizen wants to know why it's taking so long to get them repaired.
Former Vidalia City Councilman Kay Stafford addressed the council's March meeting Monday night and suggested the city spend its own money to fix the streets. He said waiting on the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funding could take forever.
City manager Nick Overstreet reports the city has already awarded a contract for $421,000 to McLendon Enterprises of Vidalia to do the work once the federal dollars are released. The city has already received $140,000 from the Georgia Department of Transportation to partially fund the project. On the radio program "Vidalia Today," he apologized to city residents for the inconvenience, but said, "If we are patient and do not disturb what has been messed up, FEMA will come in and give us money to fix those things and fix them the right way. If we were to go ahead and disturb those areas, they want give us anything."
Stafford also called for a citizens' oversight board for the Vidalia Regional Airport, suggested term limits for city office holders, wanted to know the city's plan for use of the Ezra Taylor Road sports complex, and questioned the location of the new city swimming pool and the number of vehicles the city furnishes elected officials and employees.
According to Overstreet, the city furnishes vehicles to eleven individuals in leadership positions including the mayor, city manager, city clerk, fire chief and assistant fire chief, recreation director and assistant recreation director, police chief and assistant chief and two police captains.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police granted re-certification to the Vidalia Police Department and noted it is one of only 126 in the state to be certified.
Dwayne Orrick, Assistant Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, right, presents the re-certification to Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon, center, and Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits.
Chief Frank Waits thanked clerk Lawanda Beasley for her certification efforts and Assistant Chief Roger Callaway for his assistance in the effort.
In other news from the council meeting:
*Tourism Director Alexa Britton reported "The Atlanta Rhythm Section" will perform at this year's July 4th celebration and that the city has hired a manager for the renovated Pal Theater, Michael Harden of Lyons.
* Development Authority Director Michelle Johnson said another food processing firm has expressed interest in the vacant spec building in the industrial park north of Lyons.
*The city is seeking bids from engineering firms to provide support at the airport. It also noted recent work installing a heliport at the airport did not include sufficient minority representation as required by the contract.
"The council agreed to transfer $200,000 from the general fund to the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax fund to pay for projects. The money will be returned to the general fund upon receipt of sales tax distribution from the Georgia Department of Revenue.
*The council allocated $62,891.11 to replace the city's outdated computer server system.
*A resolution was passed affirming the city's support of a Macon-Bibb County bond issue that will generate funds to renovate public housing around the state including $4.3 million for the Grove Apartments in Vidalia.
The city manager urged citizens to take advantage of the city's new web page at www.vidaliaga.gov.