Lyons City Council Hears About County Workforce Strategy Project
The City Council of Lyons, at its first meeting of 2021 on January 5, received notice from Toombs County Development Authority Director Michele Johnson that the Authority has engaged the assistance of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia to facilitate and document a Toombs County workforce strategy project. The undertaking will launch in February.
Johnson explained that the availability of a skilled workforce is a key ingredient for attracting new jobs and supporting existing businesses. The workforce strategy will also help the community navigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and create a roadmap for workforce development efforts in Toombs County. Specifically, the strategy process will identify gaps, develop priorities, create strategies for meeting the talent needs of existing industry and prospective employers, set workforce development goals, and tell the Toombs talent story, Johnson said.
The inclusive planning process will involve key business, community, and education stakeholders, and will conclude in summer 2021. The project’s outcome will be a community-wide strategy for strengthening the community’s workforce and a plan for implementing the new strategy.
Chicken of the Sea, Dot Foods, Georgia Power, Meadows Health, Southern Nuclear and Trane Technologies have joined the Authority in sponsoring the project. A steering committee made up of key leaders, including Lyons Mayor Willis NeSmith, will lead the project.
City Manager Jason Hall presented an action item for approval of an import/wholesale alcohol license, applied for by AME Imports LLC, for the purpose of storing the business’s product at 714 S. State Street. AME Imports owner, nor the manager, were able to attend the Council meeting, but Lyons businessman Mark Montford was in attendance to advocate for the application.
Montford is the landlord and manager of the facility where AME Import’s product will be stored. He gave assurance that the alcohol product will be delivered with a strict chain of custody and stored under tight surveillance. Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker was also in attendance to verify that due diligence was taken to vet the company. He and Montford agreed that the company and its owners have checked out as clean businessmen and hard workers who only need a short-term storage place half-way between delivery at the port of Savannah and a distillery in Richland.
Hall also affirmed that the storage location is sufficient distance from schools, churches and alcohol rehabilitation centers to meet zoning requirements.
During discussion regarding the absence of the owners from the meeting, and of the licensing process, NeSmith said, “They have come to us wanting to get this business going, and we need to look at it. We need to give them the benefit of the doubt. I consider us a business-friendly community; and when someone comes to us to apply for an alcohol license and Walker does due diligence and they come out clean, then there’s no reason we shouldn’t allow it.” NeSmith hopes such action will give the City of Lyons a foot in the door for more business growth.
Councilman Larry Griggers said that since, to his knowledge, there has never been a wholesale liquor establishment in the City of Lyons, he would like a copy of the state license when it is granted, to be sure the company stays accountable. Licenses for alcohol are first issued by the municipality where retail or wholesale sales will occur, then application is made for a state license.
A motion was made by Councilman John Moore, Jr., to accept the license application, and Councilwoman Sonja Eason seconded the motion. The motion passed with the approval of Moore, Eason and Councilman Ivey Toole. Griggers and Councilman Rick Hartley abstained.
In other action items, Hall presented the following and each were approved by the Council: The 2021 qualifying dates for candidates seeking election to the Council will be August 16 through 20. Qualifying fees will be $108 for persons seeking election in Wards 1, 2 and 4.
The Mayor was authorized to establish a franchise fee to holders of cable and video franchises issued by the State of Georgia. A 5% fee will be required of any holder’s gross revenue generated within the boundaries of the City of Lyons.
The Mayor was authorized to complete documents necessary to enroll the City in the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) Workers Compensation self-insurance fund. Volunteer firefighters, certified police officers and elected officials will be covered under the GMA self-insurance fund while performing their duties for the City. Regarding workers compensation, Hall gave credit to City employees for doing a better job last year in taking personal safety precautions and in making sure their work areas are safe. Mayor NeSmith concluded the meeting by also giving kudos to the employees of the city. “I’d like to recognize Lynn Rowland (City Clerk), Chief Wesley Walker, and Jason Hall for their work this past year. We've had a lot going on, a lot of unknowns with the pandemic, and having to shut down City Hall twice in the year. I feel like things went very well with no major problems. We’ll have a lot going on this year, too. Things look good, let’s keep it going. Thank you.”