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City of Vidalia Approves Request for $75,000 Matching Grant

In its August 17 session, the Vidalia City Council approved a request by Vidalia Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Director Alexa Britton to apply for a $75,000 matching grant. The application to the Georgia Council for the Arts requires a match from the city not to exceed $37,500. The grant is intended for sound, lighting and rigging equipment for live performances at the Pal Theater in downtown Vidalia. City Finance Director Bill Bedingfield advised the council that $14,000 in SPLOST funds is already earmarked as a line item for equipment upgrades at the PAL. This $14,000 could be factored into the $37,500 in matching funds for which the city will be obligated. Britton also reported that a new kiosk has been installed at the CVB, and that the Vidalia Onion Museum and Welcome Center had 99 visitors in July. Year to date, the museum has had 454 visitors from 34 states, two countries and three Canadian provinces. The July visitation total is about 40% of the July 2019 visitation. She also reported that the Vidalia Onion Festival Committee began meeting by zoom this month to begin making plans for the 2021 festival.

President of the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce Michele Johnson reported that the Leadership Toombs-Montgomery orientation is scheduled for August 20 and 21. The Chamber held a ribbon cutting for new business Keis Testing, LLC (mobile drug testing) at 506 Donovan St., on Monday, August 17. A ribbon cutting for another new enterprise, Jodi’s Kustoms Auto and Truck Ac­continued from page

cessories, 625 East First St., Vidalia, was scheduled for Friday, August 21, at 4 p.m.

Under Development Authority items, Johnson announced that proposals for the Spec Building #4, TCC, Lyons project, were due on August 20 and estimated completion of the project is by January, 31, 2021. The Project Managers Tour for Toombs County, scheduled for September 15-16, has been postponed due to the format change of the GEDA annual meeting to virtual because of COVID-19 and travel restrictions of statewide project managers. Meeting organizers will attempt to reschedule in 2021.

Bedingfield reported that the city has collected 95% of property taxes thus far. Sales taxes are vigorous at 4.31% of the budgeted amount YTD. Alcoholic beverage sales taxes are up 11.08 % YTD. Hotel and motel taxes are slightly down at 10.94% YTD. The general fund is healthy and funds from the CARES Act have bolstered the economy, Bedingfield said, adding, recreation revenue is 51.6% of the budgeted amount and the airport shines at 62.93% of the budget with fuel sales robust.

City Manager Nick Overstreet advised the Council that the city has received $163,000 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economics Security Act (CARES). The funds must be used to defray expenses associated with COVID-19 precautions and their use must be validated. The city has also received $30,000 in federal funding for improvements at the lo­continued from page

cal airport which is part of $9 billion being made available to airports across the country through CARES.

Overstreet also told the city council that 10 proposals have been received from engineering firms interested in undertaking the $1 million sidewalk improvement project in the vicinity of Sally Meadows Elementary School. Last year, the city submitted an application for a grant from the Department of Transportation for the project. The city’s share will be $250,000.

The next step is narrowing the candidates for the project to three and conducting interviews. Once the project is awarded to one of the three candidates, work can get underway. The project takes in several blocks surrounding the elementary school, the Boys and Girls Club, the Vidalia Housing Authority, Vidalia Heritage Academy, and two churches. The proposed work would be ADA compliant and feature a cement walkway with grass perimeter, solar-powered benches with charging ports for electronic devices, and trash receptacles. Heart of Georgia Regional Commission is the grant administrator.

In other business, the Council approved an engagement letter with McClain, Calhoun, McCullough and Clark for the city’s 2020 audit with an increase of $1,000 for the fee. The first reading of two amendments to the city’s Health and Sanitation Ordinance, Chapter 9, Article 2, was conducted. The first amendment (Section 922) deals with the accumulation of junk, trash and debris on private property and enables the city marshal to address this accumulation when it poses a nuisance. The second amendment (Section 923), deals with the overgrowth of grass, weeds and other similar vegetation that can be declared a nuisance.

The Council approved capital expense requests (SPLOST) from three departments: Fire, $21,839.13; Recreation Department, $56,446.09; and Public Works, $37,137.30.

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